The controversial acquittal of a Philadelphia policeman caught on video violently punching a woman at a Puerto Rican Day parade last fall quickly produced a second stink bomb.
The Philadelphia judge who freed fired Lt. Jonathan Josey during a non-jury trial where that jurist brushed aside compelling evidence recorded on that video is married to a Philadelphia policeman.
The wife of Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Patrick F. Dugan was among the 100-plus police officers who jammed Dugan's courtroom during Josey's one-day trial in mid-February.
Judge Dugan neither revealed his marital relationship nor removed himself from the case -- formally known as recusal.
Dugan presiding at Josey's trial seemingly flaunted provisions of Pennsylvania's Code of Judicial Conduct, particularly provisions prohibiting the "appearance of impropriety" by judges and judges not allowing "family to influence" their judicial judgment.
Dugan issued his acquittal verdict two weeks after Josey's trial. When ruling, Dugan said he was troubled by Josey's conduct captured on a cell phone video but he was impressed by the testimony from other police officers plus character witnesses for Josey who supported his claims of innocence.
Judge Dugan's ruling favoring Josey, dismissing the video contradicting Josey's courtroom accounts, continues an infamous judicial tradition across America of jurists bending both law and logic to excuse police misconduct, giving breaks to cops generally withheld from civilians facing comparable criminal charges.
Last September, weeks before the assault producing Josey's arrest, Arizona Judge Jacqueline Hatch sparked outrage when sentencing a policeman to probation after a jury convicted that officer of sexually groped a woman in a bar while off-duty and drunk. When refusing to impose the possible two-year prison sentence, Judge Hatch bashed the victim for being in a bar.
Months before Hatch's ruling, New York City judge Gustin Reichbach gave a disgraced NYPD detective probation for planting drugs on an innocent couple after that officer cried during his sentencing begging for mercy.
In 2009 Chicago Judge John Fleming sentenced a fired policeman to probation following that burly, 250-lb officer's conviction for beating a female bartender half his weight for her refusal to serve him more alcohol.
Ironically, Philadelphia Judge Patrick Dugan declined to comment on either his ruling or his failure to reveal his wife's occupation by citing a provision of the same judicial ethics code that he trashed.
One section of Pa's Code of Judicial Conduct does require judges to abstain from public comment about court cases.
However, the core of that Code insists on judges avoiding "impropriety and the appearance of impropriety" stating clearly that public confidence in the judiciary is "eroded by irresponsible and improper conduct by judges."
Reactions to Dugan's acquittal and his wife's occupation from the public to civic leaders expressed eroded confidence in the judiciary -- erosions that the Code seeks to eliminate.
Zack Stalberg, president of Philadelphia's civic watchdog Committee of Seventy, told a local television station that it was "inappropriate" for any Philadelphia judge to hear the Josey case stating an out-of-town jurist should have presided during the trial over an incident that sparked protests and public criticisms.
Judicial code prohibitions in Pennsylvania against judges serving as character witnesses in criminal trials resulted in part from the practice of Philadelphia judges vouching for police in brutality cases.
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