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Tuesday
Feb122008

344. ABCs of judging

We met Florida's Judge Michael E. Allen in post 272.  He got in trouble with the otherwise-rational Florida Judicial Qualification Commission by poaching on its turf.  As the Commission explained in its complaint, it's unethical for a judge to let the public know about what goes behind the smooth blond wood paneling  of its appellate courts, because the judge is supposed to tell the Commission instead. 

Of course, there's larger issues at stake, too.  Like: letting the public know what really goes on in its courts would tend to diminish public confidence.  It's striking that the Commission doesn't contend that Judge Allen said anything false, or even inaccurate.  The supposed ethical violation is simply that he said it about his colleague, in contravention of the convention of unctuous displays of brotherly (well, brethrenly) esteem.

Anyway, ABC News has picked up on it with a story that quotes other court employees venting their feelings about Judge Allen's antagonist, Judge Charles J. Kahn, whose publicity photo seems designed to create the impression of someone who doesn't know how to relax.   The story reports that Judge Kahn "was described by his colleagues as acting, at times, 'volatile,' 'irrational' and 'schizoid.'"

Let's see.  The DSM list of symptoms for schizoid personality disorder include "Social withdrawal, or continual avoidance of social activities / Flattened emotions or lack of expressivity / Having little to say".   You can see where combining that with irrational volatility might be somewhat disorienting to coworkers.

But, hey, we only pay 'em to sound like they know what they're talking about when they use fancy words in their opinions.  I think what the speaker - Chief Judge Edwin B. Browning - meant was something more along the lines of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or perhaps Boopsie and Hunk-Ra.

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