Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
A domestic-relations judge in Montgomery, Alabama, faces a 127-page civil complaint alleging that she acted corruptly in more than two dozen cases.
The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) served the complaint yesterday on former Montgomery County Circuit Judge Patricia Warner, who abruptly announced her retirement last week after being elected to a second term in November.
The 74 charges repeatedly use the term "bad faith" to describe Warner's actions. The legal definition of bad faith is "the fraudulent deception of another person; the intentional or malicious refusal to perform some duty or contractual obligation." (See the full complaint through a link at the end of this post.)
Warner repeatedly ignored instructions from higher courts, according to the complaint. She has 30 days to respond to the charges. From the Montgomery Advertiser:
"Her disregard of (legal) standards, although given specific notice by the appellate courts, further evidences her bad faith and her intentional disregard of her duty to decide cases based on the law and the facts presented to her court in handling the matters alleged (in this complaint)," according to the complaint served Monday.
Of 29 cases where Warner's judgment was questioned, the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed only two, according to the complaint.
"The other twenty-seven appellate opinions all pointed out major flaws requiring reversal in Judge Warner's handling of each case. In most cases, Judge Warner's legal errors were clear and obviously warranted reversal," according to the report.
We had three reactions upon hearing that an Alabama judge might actually be held accountable for gross misconduct:
(2) What took you so long?
(3) When are you going to start inquiring into the dozens of other Alabama judges who can match Warner step for step in the corruption department?
Our delight at seeing a bad judge outed is tempered by several doses of reality. The Alabama JIC is a notoriously toothless watchdog. I have filed multiple complaints with the JIC, only to receive a form letter stating that my allegations would not even be investigated. I know of numerous individuals who have received similar responses. So why is the JIC taking action against Patricia Warner? Our guess is that her corrupt acts were simply over the top, she pushed the wrong political button at the wrong time, or she ticked off the wrong person or institutional body. Let's address these three possibilities: