February 23, 2007

"Every Case Gets the Judge That It Deserves."

David Lat says that about the Anna Nicole Smith case. Wouldn't it be weird if that were a general principle.

ADDED: Judge Larry Seidlin's wife doesn't quite say he was auditioning for his own reality show.
"People who know him, and people who meet him on the street all say the same thing, 'You should have your own television show,'" Seidlin's wife, Belinda, said Thursday night....

As he read his ruling Thursday — giving custody of Smith's body to a court-appointed guardian for her 5-month-old daughter Dannielynn — he wept.

Earlier in the week-long hearing, Seidlin told one high-strung blonde lawyer that she was beautiful, and took cell phone calls from his wife. He shared his morning exercise routine with the courtroom and the cameras....

At one point, referring to a dress being made for Smith's burial, Seidlin's face soured as he expressed his general discomfort over funeral details.

"This is the one area I always ran away from — the death," Seidlin said.

It prompted amused attorney Stephen Tunstall to note wryly, "But you're a probate judge," referring to the type of judge whose job is to deal with wills.

"I don't think him to be crazy at all,'' said Belinda Seidlin. "I find him to be brilliant, and that's tough to say when you're married to someone for a long time."


Leland said...

That only works in the viewpoint of Anna Nicole and the "adults" in her life. The situation with the surviving daughter certainly deserves a much better judge. This is a child without family (I don't see grandmother ending up with the baby based on Anna's comments) whose only value to interested parties is her dollar value. This little girl is a bone to a pack of deprived wolves, and she needs someone to help her.

Richard Fagin said...

If the case of the Katy cross burner is any indication, cases do indeed get the judges they deserve. A young man from Katy, TX was sentenced to 10 years in Federal prison for burning a cross on the lawn of a black family. The kid really deserved it; sentencing recommendation invstigators turned up some really ugly stuff about him. At the sentencing hearing, the young man pleaded for leniency on the basis of, among other things, the judge being a "brother in Christ." Presiding Judge David Hittner, who is Jewish, laughed afterward with me that the kid "got the wrong judge, Bubbie."

American Liberal Elite said...

Seidlin is a perfect example of the Heisenberg principle and a persuasive argument for keeping cameras out of courtrooms.

Bissage said...

"Every Case Gets the Judge That It Deserves."

I confess I'm not really sure what that means. It reminds me of "Apocalypse Now": “Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one.” (Was that in “Heart of Darkness”?)

Maybe Mr. Lat is saying the judge and the case deserve each other, but I never knew what that meant, either.

Professor Althouse asked: “Wouldn't it be weird if that were a general principle.

Bissage answers: Yes. Yes, it would, indeed. It would mean that we all have much less to complain about in this world than we presently believe. It would also mean we should all make much more of an effort to be GOOD PEOPLE.

That's kinda weird.

PatCA said...

Attorneys in his jurisdiction say he's like that all the time!

I've known many an eccentric judge in my time working in court. Something about being high up on the bench?

reader_iam said...

Ringmaster Seidlin has managed to make Lance Ito appear, in retrospect, sober as a judge.

Quite the achievement, in its own way.

(I watched quite a bit of the hearings this week, so my reaction is based on observation.)

Fen said...

What a farce. The judge was an embarassment, playing up to camera's, perhaps hoping to add the real to his Judge Whopner screen test. Another reason why cameras shouldn't be allowed in the courtroom.

And its sad that so many are still exploiting Anna Nicole. Even after she's dead. Casts the entire Marlyn Monroe story under a different light. No wonder she off'ed herself.

Fen said...


perhaps hoping to add the reel to his Judge Whopner screen test.

DNR Mom said...

Embarrassment is the key here, as in embarrassment to the judicial system. I cringed every time I saw Larry Thursday. What judges will be next? Curly & Moe?

Nadine said...

People should really go and watch what goes on in courthouses - this would not seem that unusual.

Judges lose control and display "negative" or "undesirable" personality traits - whether it be by being cruel, overtly biased, stupid, irreverent, rude, or emotional. They are no different from the rest of us. I can name (maybe) 5 judges in my jurisdiction who are truly (and consistently) impartial and dignified.

Law school does not teach you how to deal with judges who make fun of your hair in front of a jury, or those who sabotage your case out of personal or political (but unprovable) dislike of you or your case. But it's something lawyers have to deal with every day.

I'd rather have a judge cry, but care, than be nasty and disrespectful to the system and the people involved.

Randy said...

I realize that Lat was being tongue-in-cheek, and have admired his often irreverant writing over the years, and it is sadly in keeping with almost everything to do with this unfortunate woman in her life and death.

Yet, each human life deserves at least some small shred of dignity, even if almost all those involved in it or remarking upon it prove woefully incapable of even the most basic tenets of common decency. That so many have demonstrated time and again a complete lack of compassion is appalling. (Unintentionally self-relevatory about them, I think.)