Judge Censured And Sued For Illegal Arrest of Courtroom Spectator

January 8, 2010

A  judge in Dickson County, Tennessee took a courtroom spectator into custody and forced him to submit to a drug test, all based on the judge’s “hunch” that he might be high on drugs.  Well, the man passed the drug test, and then he filed a complaint against the judge.

Judge Durwood Moore was censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Judiciary Court on May 1, 2009, the highest form of punishment short of seeking a judge’s removal from the bench.  The court also ordered Moore to “never violate a person’s constitutional rights as he did to the Plaintiff.”

Now Judge Moore is being sued in Federal Court for his actions.

As a criminal defense lawyer, I was happy to see the Tennessee Supreme Court punish this behavior, but I cannot understand how this man can be permitted to remain on the bench.  As a lawyer and a judge, Mr. Moore was sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the State of Tennessee.  In response to the complaint, he admitted that “plucking suspicious spectators from his courtroom and screening them for drugs was ‘the routine policy of the court’.”

It is impossible for me to accept that a judge presiding over criminal trials in the United States would think this is permissable.  The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads as follows:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Judge Moore had to have been aware of these rights. As a criminal court judge, hearings are regularly conducted raising just these issues.

Either Judge Moore is mentally incompetent, or he is arrogant to the point that he believes he is above the law.  Either way, he shouldn’t be granted the privilege  of judging others and deciding whether a citizen’s constitutional rights have been violated.

It is not unusual for lawyers to witness judges who have allowed the substantial power they wield go to their heads. Here on Long Island, I had the unpleasant experience of seeing first hand the damage an out of control judge can cause. Judge B. Marc Mogil spent his time on the bench making life a living hell for criminal defendants and their lawyers.  The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct had the good sense to remove him from the bench.  Take a moment to read the court’s decision. It makes for very entertaining reading, and it’s all true.

These instances seem to me to be examples of a fundamental misconception of  open legal proceedings. Judges commonly refer to the taxpayer supported space they preside over as “my courtroom.”  This culture allows the courthouse powers that be to subject spectators to arbitrary rules that defy logic.  For instance, spectators and lawyers are not permitted to read(!) while a judge is on the bench in New York.

The whole purpose of public courtrooms is to allow the people to keep an eye on their government, not the other way around.

{ 1 comment }

DSchneider June 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm

The Constitution of the United States is the:

1) Supreme Precedent — an opinion or holding of any court not “in pursuance” is void,of no effect.

2)Supreme Rule of Pleading — no part of the Constitution may be placed in issue, except by a Article VI majority.

Any judicial officer who intentionally and repeatedly tresspasses on the Liberty of any person commits the

Supreme Crime –Treason (or Insurrection) against the United States (or a state).

That judicial officer is levying war by murder, capture of persons and territory, and seizure of personalty.

A defense attorney can defend himself only by defending the Constitution. Defense of the Constitution requires PRESENTMENTS for TREASON.

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