Local judge may be suspended

April 13, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Judith Eiler

Judith Eiler

A King County District Court judge could be suspended for 90 days based on her conduct in an Issaquah courtroom. 

Judge Judith Eiler was censured April 10 by the state Judicial Conduct Commission for disrespectful behavior. Commissioners recommended to the state Supreme Court a 90-day, unpaid suspension for her.

The commission said Eiler belittled defendants and interrupted them while they were speaking. Her courtroom demeanor has earned her comparisons to TV’s no-nonsense “Judge Judy.” 

Her attorney, Anne Bremner, said Eiler maintains order in a fast-paced courtroom with a high caseload. Eiler handles small claims and traffic infractions — often dozens of cases each day.

“Every day in court, she’s trying to turn around a supertanker,” Bremner said.

The commission said Eiler addressed attorneys, defendants and witnesses in “an impatient, undignified, discourteous, belittling and demeaning manner.”

The commission cited Eiler for similar behavior in 2005. She completed sensitivity training as part of a reprimand then. Commissioners noted Eiler’s earlier discipline problems in the opinion issued last week.

“The commission is most distressed by the respondent repeating behavior that was the subject of a previous discipline,” the opinion read.

The opinion said Eiler “sees herself as a ‘vice principal’ who determines responsibility, imposes punishment and is required to do so ‘in a stern, firm, tough manner.’”

Bremner defended her client’s demeanor.

“There has to be order in a courtroom,” she said. “Judges should be tough.”

Bremner said she and her client were heartened by a dissent issued by a commission member, Pierce County Superior Court Judge John A. McCarthy. He disagreed with the suspension recommendation.

McCarthy wrote that although Eiler could be harsh, her demeanor did not affect her decisions.

“She agrees she should stop using sarcasm at all,” McCarthy wrote. “She doesn’t believe the limited sound bites, tapes and transcripts presented at this hearing are reflective of the thousands of cases she has heard in her career.”

Eiler was first elected as a district court judge in 1992 and repeatedly re-elected. She plans to run again for re-election next year, Bremner said.

Bookmark and Share
Other Stories of Interest: , ,

Comments

3 Responses to “Local judge may be suspended”

  1. Paul Seiler on April 14th, 2009 8:41 am

    Almost one year ago I sat in Judge Eiler’s court room for a session of traffic infractions, and witnessed first-hand how difficult and uncomfortable she made the experience for a number of defendants. At the time, I didn’t know that something could be done about to temper the situation, so I’m glad to see that the Commission has stepped in. I admit that all of us (the defendants) were probably in the wrong that day, having been cited for various traffic infractions, but that did not warrant the treatment that some of the attendees received. Several were made to feel that their decision to defer an infraction was mis-guided and stupid, while others were interrupted while trying to phrase their statements, sometimes repeatedly.

    The Judges of King County deserve the respect of the people in their courtroom, but those same people deserve to be treated with respect as well. Anything less is unfair and unprofessional.

  2. DM on April 15th, 2009 8:37 am

    As a former prosecutor and now private attorney in the Seattle area, I have had the opportunity to appear in front of at least one hundred local judges and I have to admit, Judge Eiler has a unique inability to maintain judicial decorum. I had to laugh when I heard her counsel excuse her behavior by comparing a local judge, in a small limited jurisdiction, to a ship captain turning around a supertanker. Give me a break. If the job is that difficult, how come all the other folks with robes and gavels can keep it under control? It is exactly that kind of attitude and ego that is the source of the problem. Judges play numerous roles from the bench not the least of which is providing example and guidance to young attorneys, defendants, and civil litigants seeking some assistance. Insults, interruption, and arrogance does very little to help those in need and even less for those who need to change their behavior.

  3. iwantjusticeincourts on April 30th, 2009 2:44 pm

    http://www.issaquahpress.com/2009/04/13/local-judge-may-be-suspended/

    I just read your article on this judge and my husband and I were also victims of her rudeness twice and unfair judgment. We were the plaintiffs and suited our landlord for harassing us none stop after we told him that we will not sign another lease, and not giving us our refundable deposit and accusing us of damaging the apartment when all we ever did was take good care of the apartment and cleaned it very well when moving out despite of also giving him $150 for cleaning, prior to moving in the apartment.

    The judge hardly let us talk and asked the defendant about the damages we are 100% sure he made up and he basically said we caused damage by a water leakage and caused damage to the carpet which are lies, because the carpet damage was reported in the move-in inspection. Also, the leakage was caused by his father who claims to be a handyman, but could not even unclog the bathtub, and all he did was to be pushy and tried to sell us his pyramid products.

    We have all of the proofs, he even was advertising the apartment for rent before he sent us the itemized costs, and in that ad he indicated that the apartment was clean ready for move-in. The judge did not ask him for receipts just simply believed everything he said, and not even saw the “estimates”. We had videos, voice recordings, pictures proving the defendant was dishonest and a liar and yet she did not care to see anything, nor allows us to show our proofs. She did not even give us time to explain all the case, nor even finish all our statements, and just in a couple minutes she gave the final verdict, without seeing at least 1 proof.

    The reason I am telling you all this is because I am wondering if the commission accusing her is looking for more witnesses of unfair judgment and wanted to see if you would be able to help us because this is so unfair and unbelievable. There should be a stop to these type of rude behaviors, and there must be justice in the courtrooms otherwise what’s the point of having a court system in WA? if dishonest people instead of getting punished, get rewarded by unfair and rude judges who do not even look at the evidence.

    What’s even worst is that we are not the only WA residents complaining about her rudeness and unfair verdicts: Just google her name and you’ll see all the comments in different sites.

Got something to say?

Before you comment, please note:

  • These comments are moderated.
  • Comments should be relevant to the topic at hand and contribute to its discussion.
  • Personal attacks and/or excessive profanity will not be tolerated and such comments will not be approved.
  • This is not your personal chat room or forum, so please stay on topic.