Monday, December 10, 2007

Washington Trial Judge Disciplined for Slurs

According to an Associated Press news report, the Washington Commission on Judicial Conduct censured Clark County Superior Court Judge John P. Wulle. In a public training session in Los Angeles last year, Judge Wulle reportedly referred to one speaker as, "the black gay guy." At the same forum, when the Clark County team--including Judge Wulle--was awarded a star for their performance, Judge Wulle loudly declaimed that he didn't need a star because, "I'm not a Jew."

I imagine it's tough being a judge because you're held to a higher standard. But there's good reason for that. It's hard to imagine that if you're black, gay or Jewish, you would be eager to have Judge Wulle decide your case.

Judge Wulle was ordered to undergo alcohol evaluation--some witnesses at the conference suggested that he smelled of alcohol. Judge Wulle disputes that alcohol was involved, saying instead that he had taken cough medicine. I have to say that as a trial lawyer, I would have derived more comfort from an admission of alcohol abuse, as it seems a lot less chilling than thinly concealed racial, religious and sexual orientation prejudices.

According to the news report, Judge Wulle was initially dismissive of complaints about his conduct. While he has since issued an apology of sorts--as in I didn't mean to offend anyone--it seems like there's a shortage of insight and willingness to confront some nastiness. Judge Wulle must also undergo judicial ethics and diversity training. Here's hoping it opens his eyes, as everyone deserves a judge who can be fair.

David F. Sugerman
Paul & Sugerman, PC

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