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WHEN LITIGANTS OWN THE JUDGE

The Miami Herald reported on August 20, 2014 that an insurance company through its political committee has spent over $227,000 supporting the reelection of two Circuit Court judges before which the carrier may appear on cases it regularly defends.  Spokesman for the insurer insist the political spending is legal and it may be.  But, is it appropriate?  Judges are under ethical constraints to avoid even the hint of impropriety.  There seems to be an obvious conflict, created by a judge receiving such substantial re-election support from a likely litigant.

WHEN LITIGANTS OWN THE JUDGE
(To the tune of “The Gentlemen is a Dope,” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II)

When litigants own the judge
It’s influence they buy
Opponents cry, and by and by,
They’ll get hung out to dry.
When litigants own the judge
It’s not even discrete
They’ll tell you it’s perfectly legal
As legal as selling bad meat

When Litigants own the judge
Say of relief they’ve sought
“Decision’s fine, the judge is mine
The order’s paid for, bought”
When litigants own the judge
What will you get at trial?
A play without any rehearsals
The ones in the know will smile.

Have we become like the junta?
Corruption’s so plain and bold?
Our courts like a streetwise Punta?
All favors are bought and sold?

When litigants own the judge
Decisions feel so raw
The judge will rule, and like a fool
You’ll think it’s on the law
When litigants own the judge
Justice is a lie
They’ll be only happy decisions
The best ones that money can buy

Lyric © 2014 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
All rights reserved

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