Judge Again Accused of Being “Rude, Impatient, Undignified”

Is the Judge Judy Eiler show headed for reruns?

The state's Commission on Judicial Conduct has again filed charges against King County District Court Judge Judy Eiler for alleged misconduct, this time for "a pattern or practice of rude, impatient, undignified and intimidating treatment" of attorneys and defendants who represent themselves. She's accused of being condescending and demeaning, and in at least one instance told litigants not to talk to her court personnel or she'll fire them—"them" being the personnel. The CJC told the judge in February it was filing charges, and she responded to the complaint in March. The charges were then amended in April, but when she didn't respond, the complaint was made public last week. She's now been given three more weeks to respond, at which point a hearing will be scheduled. In its filing, the CJC cites 15 King County cases over the past two years in which Eiler, a district judge since 1992, demonstrated misconduct. But CJC Executive Director Reiko Callner says they are not yet releasing exact details of the judge's alleged intemperance. However, you can get a flavor of Judge Judy's conduct from audio clips posted on the CJC Web site (www.cjc.state.wa.us), which were used in a similar 2005 disciplinary action against Eiler that resulted in her reprimand. The tapes reveal a sarcastic, mocking judge who whistles to get silence. For example, during a family court hearing, she barks to an attorney: "This is not a divorce court! And I am not gonna hear your divorce proceeding! I'll send you back to Superior Court so fast that your head will swim!" Later, when the attorney tries to offer more information, she says: "Umpf [interrupting him], you've won here. So you might want to be real quiet before I give you a zero verdict [i.e., a dismissal, which is not the verdict the attorney is seeking]." Replies the attorney, defiantly: "You know what? I'll be given the verdict I expected." "Doesn't matter," Eiler fires back. The attorney again tries to interject, only to be cut off immediately by Eiler. "Sir, you wanna smirk, I'll just give you a zero verdict," the judge tells him. He tries to speak again, eliciting this response from Eiler: "Sir! You wanna push the button, we'll just give you a zero verdict...So you wanna change your attitude here or do you want a verdict?" In the end, she indeed enters a zero, taking away his client's win.

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