Judge Sensitive To Criticism
- View SourceJ.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles - March 28, 2001
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$5.35 Million Libel Lawsuit Against Clerk For Criticizing A Judge In Virginia!
Court's clerk responds to suit, Gives reasons for opposing judgeBY ALAN COOPER
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Chesterfield County Circuit Court Clerk Judy L. Worthington said yesterday her only motives in opposing the reappointment of Circuit Judge Timothy J. Hauler were to provide better judges and protect the interests of county residents.Worthington was responding to a $5.35 million libel lawsuit filed against her by [Judge] Hauler. The lawsuit in Charlottesville Circuit Court is based largely on a Dec. 29 letter Worthington wrote to the chairmen of the General Assembly's Courts of Justice Committees, eight additional legislators and one other person.In yesterday's formal response, Worthington said she wrote the letter only to correct "false and misleading impressions left by anonymous sources" in an article in Virginia Lawyers Weekly in mid-December.The article attributed her opposition to [Judge] Hauler to a dispute over who should be chief judge of the circuit. Before that article, Worthington said, she limited her opposition to Hauler to private meetings with Richmond area legislators or their staffs. She also attempted to confine initial circulation of the Dec. 29 letter to those she believed might have seen the article in the Virginia Lawyers Weekly. ....The letter described the court as "a dysfunctional organization that has done little to address the needs of the public or administrative issues that beg for attention." She wrote that [Judge] Hauler is "impatient, vindictive, ill-tempered, ill-mannered and publicly profane" and challenged his record as a judge on several fronts.The executive committee of the bar association endorsed [Judge] Hauler for reappointment before and after Worthington's letter. The legislature reappointed him to a second eight-year term without a dissenting vote.County voters elected Worthington to a second eight-year term as court clerk in November 1999.[Judge] Hauler's suit alleges, "Ms. Worthington formulated and carried out a plan to deny Judge Hauler re-election to the Twelfth Judicial Circuit because of decisions made by Judge Hauler and actions taken in his official capacity that displeased Ms. Worthington."The letter was the culmination of that plan and "was motivated by Ms. Worthington's personal spite, ill-will and malice toward Judge Hauler," his attorney, Charlottesville lawyer Thomas E. Albro, said in the suit. In her response, Worthington acknowledged she was disappointed about the hiring and title of the person designated as the court administrator. ....Worthington denied misusing a computerized legal research service to research [Judge] Hauler's record in the appellate courts and defended her assertion that Hauler is the most lenient of Chesterfield judges in
sentencing criminal defendants. She repeated her assertion that Hauler is in part responsible for the lack of speed with which the court handles criminal cases and contended her criticism of Hauler's work habits is based on his frequent absence from the courthouse in the afternoons. ....
Contact Alan Cooper at (804) 649-6649 or acooper@...
This is just the type of lawsuits the judiciary advises trial judges to avoid. It embarrasses the judicial system as a whole, and as I have said, the judicial system, at all costs, tries to avoid embarrassment. A certain California judge sued because the defendant asserted that the judge consulted a crystal ball before rendering his decisions. This allegation hit, as I recall, 20/20, and the judge sued over the bad publicity that discredited his name. The appellate court, in effect, said in its published opinion, that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones, and that this was a prime example of why judges should have thick skins and take it on the chin, before they affirmed throwing out the judge's lawsuit.Here, we have political infighting between a judge and the Clerk of the Courthouse. There is no way the judicial system can gain anything beneficial to the sanctity of their judicial position of rising above the riff-raff. I would think that the judicial system would like to see this judge's lawsuit dismissed as quickly and quietly as possible, lest they all become a laughing stock of a judicial system out of control in bringing lawsuits, and in this case, over childish and petty issues. Here, this judge places himself in a position of being placed on the witness stand before jurors and being asked extremely embarrassing questions he will not want to answer before the jury.J.A.I.L. is an acronym for (Judicial Accountability Initiative Law)
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