09/22/04 — Decorum: It begins with judge’s example

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Decorum: It begins with judge’s example

We should expect — demand — a high code of conduct on the part of our judges. And we undoubtedly get that from the vast majority of them — both in the courtroom and in their private lives.

But Superior Court Judge Evelyn Hill of Raleigh already has been censured once and through her lawyer has agreed to a second censure by the State Supreme Court.

Judge Hill has been having difficulty controlling her tongue — and in one case, apparently, her hands — in the courthouse.

In one incident, she was accused of inappropriately touching a deputy. It later was relegated to insignificance as a joke.

There have been a number of complaints raising questions about her fitness to serve on the superior court bench.

A judge, like the captain of a ship, has immense authority. And just as we should be careful when selecting people to wear badges and guns, we should look closely at those chosen by election or appointment to the bench.

Some people can get carried away by the perception of their own power.

The courts are one of the great bulwarks not only of our form of government but of civilization itself.

People enter our courthouses looking for justice, not mockery. And certainly not to be insulted.

Judges should demand decorum in the courtroom. This should apply not only to the witnesses, plaintiffs and defendants, but to the lawyers. It has to begin with the tone set by the judges themselves.

Published in Editorials on September 22, 2004 11:37 AM