Don’t Mess with the Lohan

Some people think that high-profile trials are more circus than trial, but despite the additional challenges of maintaining the integrity of the judicial system among a throng of reporters and TV cameras, the same basic rules apply.

The Los Angeles Times provides the latest example in a recent story detailing disciplinary actions against two different judges based on their actions in the infamous Lindsay Lohan DUI case. According to the report, the complaint was filed by a former court spokesman who was fired for allegedly leaking information about the Lohan case to the media. The former spokesperson responded to the firing by alerting the California Commission on Judicial Performance about alleged improprieties on the part of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judges Marsha Revel and Elden Fox. 

According to the complaint, Revel had an ex parte meeting with famed Hollywood defense lawyer Robert Shapiro about the latter’s desire to represent Lohan. Revel eventually recused herself after prosecutors complained about the ex parte contact.

Fox was targeted for not allowing Lohan’s attorney to present arguments for bail after the judge ordered that Lohan be jailed without bail after she failed a drug test. Fox’s order was overturned the same day, and Lohan’s bail was set at $300,000 by the supervising judge. The Times story says the former court spokesperson was notified in December that the California Commission on Judicial Performance had taken actions against both judges, which were likely in the form of “advisory letters” based on details included in the commission’s annual report.

This obviously isn’t the first time that judges – particularly California judges – have been accused of letting the Hollywood lights affect how they run their courts.  (Remember Judge Lance Ito?)  However, our courts are expected to get the job done equally for every plaintiff and defendant, and the fact that the defendant is rich and famous – or obnoxiously rich and famous – will not protect even a judge against violations of the rules.   


 

Posted: 8/3/2012 12:00:00 AM by On the Merits Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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