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US Judge Kicks Muslim Woman Out of Courtroom

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    Two judges scolded for behavior in court Karen Hucks News Tribune 8/8/06 http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/crime/story/6010692p-5279742c.html The Washington
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2006
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      Two judges scolded for behavior in court
      Karen Hucks
      News Tribune
      8/8/06
      http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/crime/story/6010692p-5279742c.html


      The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct has admonished two
      local judges, one for leading a football cheer before sentencing a man
      for manslaughter and one for forcing a Muslim woman out of the
      courtroom when she wouldn't take off her head scarf.

      Superior Court judge Beverly Grant, who led the cheer, and Tacoma
      Municipal Court judge David Ladenburg, who removed the Muslim woman,
      agreed with the commission and promised not to err again.

      An admonishment, written advice from the state commission overseeing
      judges' behavior, is the lowest form of punishment the commission can
      give.

      Reiko Callner, the commission's executive director, said neither of
      the judges has had conduct problems in the past.

      "The behavior in the Grant case was well-intentioned, but a misstep,"
      Callner said. "The conduct did not materially affect her ruling as a
      judge in the case."

      With Ladenburg, "as soon as his error was pointed out, he apologized
      and changed his behavior," she said.

      Both judges cooperated with the commission, and Grant even filed the
      formal complaint against herself.

      Grant, who was appointed a judge in April 2003, was about to sentence
      Steve Keo Teang for first-degree manslaughter Feb. 3. He had killed
      Tino Patricelli, 28, on Feb. 5, 2005, outside a Milton tavern.

      When Grant came into the courtroom, she instructed approximately 100
      onlookers – mostly family members of Teang and Patricelli – to cheer
      for the Seahawks, who were to play in the Super Bowl that weekend.

      "Before you sit down, and I know this is rather unusual, but we have a
      great football team today and I just wanted you to give one holler for
      the Seahawks," Grant said. "So, let's say, `Go, Seahawks.' You can do
      better than that. Let's try it again. One, two, three: `Go, Seahawks.'"

      The story became international news.

      Patricelli's stepmother said she was offended in part because the
      Super Bowl would take place on the one-year anniversary of her
      stepson's death.

      The following Monday, Grant publicly apologized and said she just
      wanted to ease the tension in the courtroom.

      "Although my intentions were to defuse the courtroom situation, I
      realize now the inappropriateness of my opening comments," she
      explained to the commission. "My invitation to salute the Sea-hawks
      was misplaced and under the circumstances made me appear insensitive
      to the victim's family, friends and supporters. … I humbly apologize."

      Grant and the commission agreed that she violated canons requiring
      judges to uphold the integrity of the judiciary and to maintain order
      and decorum in the courtroom.

      The agreement states that Grant's comment was particularly
      inappropriate because the case was a serious one and because the
      upcoming Super Bowl was indeed the anniversary of Patricelli's death.

      But the agreement says Grant's actions were spontaneous and were an
      isolated incident, motivated by legitimate concerns.

      Grant agreed to reread the Code of Judicial Conduct and to not repeat
      her behavior in the future.

      In Ladenburg's case, the commission received a complaint that he
      required a Muslim woman Jan. 25 to either remove the head scarf she
      wore for religious reasons or leave the courtroom.

      After an investigation, the commission said Ladenburg had created an
      appearance of bias or prejudice against the woman.

      After the woman left, the judge explained in open court that he had
      "invited many people in the past to present me some evidence" about
      whether the Muslim religion forbade the removal of head coverings in
      court and had concluded that there was no such prohibition.

      In May, Ladenburg admitted to the commission that he had a policy that
      everyone in his court must remove their head coverings unless they
      could present evidence that removing them was prohibited for religious
      or medical reasons. He acknowledged that he had not fully considered
      that his policy might infringe upon their religious rights.

      Ladenburg and the commission agreed that he violated canons requiring
      judges to uphold the integrity of the judiciary, to be faithful to the
      law and maintain professional competence in it and to perform duties
      without bias or prejudice. Although evidence indicated Ladenburg
      wasn't motivated by bias or prejudice, his ruling made him look
      biased, the agreement states.

      Ladenburg, who has been a judge for three years, agreed not to repeat
      his conduct, to study the Code of Judicial Conduct and to compete a
      course on cultural competence at his expense within a year.

      "I would like to emphasize that the commission found – based on
      lawyers and other people who appear regularly before him – that Judge
      Ladenburg is fair and respectful to all people appearing in his court,
      regardless of their ethnic and religious background," said Ladenburg's
      attorney, Rick Creatura.

      Neither Ladenburg nor Grant could be reached for comment Monday
      afternoon.


      Karen Hucks: 253-597-8660
      karen.hucks @ thenewstribune.com

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