#2. Paul "Taj MaHawkes" Hawkes Scams Florida into Building a Costly Judge Palace
Some judges are unhealthily obsessed with upholding the law. Others are more concerned with spending millions of taxpayer dollars to make sure their own bathrooms are soundproof. Tallahassee, FL, Judge Paul Hawkes belonged to the latter category.
His evil twin is known for respecting humanity and giving money to worthy charities.
While other courts across the county were laying off staff and cutting back on building maintenance to meet the bills, Judge Hawkes and some of his friends apparently decided they didn't have enough to do and took on a little project: They would come up with the most absurdly lavish courthouse building ever conceived, and then they'd trick the state into forking over nearly $50 million to pay for it. Hawkes' dream palace included a completely pointless massive glass dome over the main courtroom, granite desks and countertops, 60-inch flat-screen televisions for all 15 of the judges' chambers, spacious private kitchens for everyone, a gym and, yes, soundproof bathrooms.
Oh yeah, and they really built this thing.
This is actually just the bathroom.
So how the hell was this approved? By using the judges' legal experience and complete lack of shame to weasel in a last-minute amendment to the yearly budget. Buried in the middle of a 142-page transportation bill was a four-line request to fund the courthouse -- legislators approved it without even knowing it was there. Presumably they realized something was off when the judges started high-fiving each other for no reason.
That was just the beginning, though: When a member of the staff questioned the wisdom of Hawkes' spending spree, the judge simply had him fired. He reportedly "humiliated and browbeat" other members of the court and employees of the Department of Management Service (the folks tasked with actually building the monstrosity) when any dared to suggest that he may possibly be going slightly overboard with his requests.
"Sir, we just don't think it's possible to 'build Snoop Dogg into the waiting room.'"
Then there's the matter of rent: $1.7 million a year, to be exact, which is $1.7 million more than the old rent-free courthouse. An investigation into Judge Hawkes' activities by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission found that, as the pressure on him mounted, he ordered a sheriff's deputy to destroy a filing cabinet filled with incriminating documents. And even though he vigorously denied any wrongdoing on his part regarding the "Taj Mahal" scandal, he strategically resigned just a few weeks shy of an impending ethics hearing.
We're just sayin'.
#1. James "The Rudest Man in Washington" McReynolds
The early part of the 20th century saw numerous steps forward in American society: Women were finally allowed to vote, African-Americans were finally getting closer to being allowed to, um, exist and the hard road out of the Great Depression led to profound and positive changes in the country. Judge James McReynolds was present throughout all these changes ... because he was the man trying to stop them.
Judge McReynolds, the only known living enema.
Known for being a bitter, sadistic bastard who "seems to delight in making others uncomfortable," McReynolds was part of Woodrow Wilson's cabinet until 1914, when President Wilson assigned him to the Supreme Court simply to get rid of him. McReynolds stayed there for 27 years, using his power to fight every law coming his way that smelled of progress. For example, when attorney Charles Hamilton Houston came before the Supreme Court to represent the plaintiff in one of the most important civil rights cases in history, McReynolds rose to the occasion by ... swiveling his chair around 180 degrees to turn his back on Houston. The reason? Houston happened to be black.
Plus he graduated cum laude from Harvard, which is like not even going to school at all.
McReynolds was never subtle about his hatred for blacks or Jews, regardless of their social stature. When Louis Brandeis became the first Jewish Justice appointed to the court in 1916, McReynolds refused to speak to him, sit next to him or even acknowledge his existence for years. He wasn't that polite to Benjamin Cardozo, the second-ever Court nominee with a dash of Hebrew -- while Cardozo was being sworn in, McReynolds took out a newspaper and began reading it in the middle of the ceremony, probably planting his feet up on the bench, then muttering something about "another one." This was after he had already broken the rules by writing then-President Hoover about Cardozo, begging him to not "afflict the court with another Jew."
The reason this painting looks so real is because it was painted with horse shit.
When it came to hiring legal clerks, McReynolds had a policy to automatically reject any application submitted by "Jews, drinkers, blacks, women, smokers, married or engaged individuals." Yep, McReynolds was also a dedicated misogynist with an irrational hatred of red nail polish, who would often get up and walk out of the court when a female lawyer rose to present a case. In the same decade that women were given the right to vote, McReynolds was there to remind them that people still suck.
He ended up retiring in 1941, and died five years later. Not one Supreme Court Justice attended his funeral.
"Here lies James McReynolds. This plot also doubles as a public restroom."
For more "good guys" that terrify us, check out 6 Real-Life Vigilantes Crazier Than Batman and 9 Acts of Vigilantism Straight Out of a Comic Book.