Local ‘Judge Judy’ suspended for ‘rude’ behavior

August 5, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

UPDATED — 4:10 p.m. Aug. 5, 2010

The state Supreme Court has suspended Judge Judith Eiler — the brusque King County District Court judge who has drawn comparisons to TV’s “Judge Judy” — from the bench without pay for rude behavior.

In a decision issued Thursday morning, Supreme Court justices ordered Eiler to be suspended for five days without pay. Several of the incidents occurred during her stint at district court’s Issaquah Courthouse.

“Several litigants — and even some attorneys — reported being ‘embarrassed’ by Judge Eiler’s ‘degrading’ treatment, and feeling ‘mocked,’ ‘attacked’ and ‘uncomfortable’ in her courtroom,” the opinion states.

Eiler has since been reassigned to the Seattle courthouse.

Justices cited “voluminous testimony at trial documenting Judge Eiler’s rude, discourteous, undignified and demeaning treatment of the attorneys and pro se litigants who appeared before her, we find that clear, cogent, and convincing evidence” against her.

Anne Bremner, the high-profile Seattle attorney representing Eiler, could not be reached Thursday afternoon.

The state Judicial Conduct Commission censured Eiler in April 2009 for disrespectful behavior. Commissioners asked the Supreme Court to suspend her for 90 days without pay.

Commission Executive Director Reiko Callner said a judge should not use his or her power to bully litigants, because people appearing before a judge cannot respond in kind.

“What the code is there to uphold is the independence and integrity of the judiciary,” Callner said.

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 April.

“Judge Eiler’s misconduct is not isolated, but rather is evidence of a pattern of impatient, undignified, rude, demeaning and discourteous behavior in the courtroom,” the Supreme Court opinion states.

Lynnwood resident Paul Seiler, a mechanical engineer and former Issaquah resident, appeared before Eiler in the summer of 2008 after a state trooper caught him speeding on Interstate 90 in Issaquah. Seiler told the judge he had been going with the flow of traffic; he said she responded with a sharp, “You have your own speedometer.”

“Her tone was very condescending,” Seiler said.

Bellevue attorney David Mason recalled appearing before the judge during a civil case at the Issaquah Courthouse. Mason said Eiler made condescending remarks to attorneys. In the end, she ruled against Mason and his client.

“I will never, ever appear in front of her again after that nightmare,” he said.

South King County voters elected Eiler to the bench in 1992; she faces the electorate again in November. Des Moines Assistant City Attorney Susan Mahoney is also campaigning for the seat.

Justices referenced the upcoming election Thursday.

“Indeed, if Judge Eiler fails to improve her conduct and demeanor on the bench in response to this disciplinary action, as she did with respect to the last one, removal may be warranted,” the opinion states. “Of course, if King County voters prefer not to wait for further offense, they can achieve the same result at the next election.”

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Comments

4 Responses to “Local ‘Judge Judy’ suspended for ‘rude’ behavior”

  1. sleeplessdreamer on August 5th, 2010 10:55 am

    That lady should be fired. Me and everybody I know that has had her for traffic violations and whatever else say the same thing “she’s rotten”. I dont know what her problem is she needs to relize she’s not on tv. If you see her out and about give her the same courtesy she would give you NONE!

  2. Harry Rag on August 8th, 2010 1:06 am

    Anne Bremner has vigorously campaigned for the release of Amanda Knox. She has repeatedly misled the media and the public with a number of false claims.

    She may be able to suppress the truth about what happened when she was arrested by blocking the release of the investigative reports and video. However, she won’t be able to suppress the truth about Amanda Knox.

    Judge Massei’s 427- page report will be published in English on Monday 9 August. It will be available for download from PMF and TJMK.

  3. sleeplessdreamer on August 9th, 2010 12:45 am

    Hey Harry that has nothing to do with “Judge Judy”. Stay on the subject when posting a comment, Amanda Knox has nothing to do with this story. If you want to spam about something do it elsewhere. Thanks!

  4. Tonetare on August 10th, 2010 3:53 am

    she probably is trying to get her own court show. I shudder to think actual judges are acting like television judges. They need to understand that TV is for ratings and be respectful.

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