Don’t Judge A Judge By His Cover

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Though we are admonished not to judge a book by its cover, most of us do, in fact, judge people by their cover, i.e., their clothes. In “Hamlet,” Shakespeare penned the famous and applicable line, “For the apparel oft proclaims the man….” In today’s jargon, that probably translates to “clothes make the man.”

Objectively it is easy for one to agree that it is not right to prejudge the worth of someone by their outward appearance alone. However, in practical application, first impressions are often based on one’s clothing because that is what is visible and easily assessed. An interviewer isn’t likely to initially be inclined to hire the bedraggled job applicant in torn jeans, a dirty t-shirt, and worn out flip flops. But behind that poor wardrobe may be a well educated individual with a keen work ethic(and woeful fashion sense).

Interestingly, not judging someone based on his cover has been a recent issue in the judicial arena where justice is supposed to be blind. Lady Justice is pictured as being blindfolded so that she has no sense of what the petitioner in court looks like. Tables have now been turned because the focus has now been switched to what the judges are wearing to court. What do the litigants think of thee dispensers of justice based on the judge’s attire?

The Florida Supreme Court has addressed this crucial issue and just this month adopted a new rule regarding what a judge is authorized to wear when presiding over proceedings in the halls of justice. Their pronouncement states that: “during any judicial proceeding, robes worn by a judge must be solid black with no embellishment.” The highest court in the Sunshine State believes that this wardrobe choice will promote trust and confidence in the judicial system.

Cough! Cough! Excuse me, but I hardly think that any litigant is that concerned about what the judge is wearing so as to have it become the basis of an opinion about the judicial system as a whole. Based on my own practice, I can tell you that judicial temperament, the speed in announcing a decision and the time it takes to get a hearing set on the judge’s docket are far more persuasive to a litigant than the color of a judge’s robe.

In my personal opinion, a judge’s fashion style is not necessarily indicative of his or her impartiality or biases. If a female judge chooses to add a lace collar to a black robe, a la U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, will male litigants really feel that this frill on the judicial robe signifies a bias for women because the judge adds a feminine touch to her judicial attire?
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Obviously, there are limits to what a judge should wear. For example, a cammo robe might signify a gun rights bias to an NRA member appearing before a judge. A robe of many colors might lead a litigant to believe that the judge was a religious conservative with a dim view of lawbreaker. And what if the judge chooses to comply with the new rule by wearing a simple black bathrobe to court? That’s technically within the meaning of the rule as written. Permitted and comfy, but not a professional looking selection.

The issuance of this new Florida Supreme Court rule leads me to conclude that the Sunshine State justices sitting in their ivory tower in Tallahassee have way too much time on their hands and way too little common sense. Are judicial wardrobe choices such a big problem that we have to take the time (and use my hard-earned tax dollars) to promulgate a rule about what is appropriate, non-biased attire that will not give litigants a bad impression should they decide to judge the judge by his/her cover? Just wondering, but isn’t the fact that the judge is on the bench presiding over the court proceedings with the power to send those appearing before him/her to jail, divest them of their property or separate them from their children more of statement of judicial authority and focus than the color or embellishment of the robe the judge happens to be wearing that day? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if common sense was as big a concern as fashion sense?

Bad Reporting On Baa-d Baa-d (Duggar) Black Sheep

Whether you have an inquiring mind or not, the media apparently thinks we want to know all about the latest Josh Duggar scandal.  Unfortunately, methinks inquisitive skills are lacking in the reporting.  What I’ve read has left me wondering.  Some of the burning questions I’d really like the answer to have not been addressed.

In case you have been living under a rock, eldest son and clear black sheep of the supersize Duggar family, Josh Duggar, was outed for having not one, but TWO, accounts with Ashley Madison.  He publicly admitted a porn addiction and to having cheated on his sweet wife, Anna.  This information has been repeated ad nauseum, but I am thinking some additional information digging into the Duggar disaster is warranted.

First, Ashley who? promotes what?  Media reports blithely skip over the existence of this site in their haste to nail Josh for his (admitted) hypocrisy. I’m sorry, but let’s get this straight.  There’s an online service that married people pay money for to facilitate them having affairs?  And there are MILLIONS of account holders?  Where is the moral outrage that this commercial activity is legal and that MILLIONS of people are cheating (or at least attempting to cheat) on their spouses?  Why is Josh the only one being condemned and publicly dragged through the mud?  My inquiring mind is wondering about that.  .

Second, what does TLC, the network which aired “Nineteen Kids And Counting” before axing it due to a previous Josh scandal, think about this turn of events?  The network’s presumed goal was to present a reality show that would draw lots of viewers. Hey, you can’t get more real than this Duggar family fiasco.  Just how many folks do you think would turn in to see Josh face Anna and confess his trespasses? (You can’t see it, but my hand is raised.)  Josh’s got some serious ‘splaining to do.  How does the Duggar family react when their world is turned upside down and their hearts are broken?  I would be much more interested in watching the true life family drama unfold than to turn into some matchmaking “reality” show that provides unmarried participants a fantasy suite in which to do who knows what.  (OK, we have a pretty good idea, and Josh might like to watch it…)

Third, what is at the root of Josh’s problems with not controlling sexual impulses?  Will he claim that it is merely the result of a learning disorder? According to his sisters’ book, Growing Up Duggar:  It’s All About Relationships, the male Duggars avoid impure thoughts by using the buzzword “Nike.”  When the alarm word is given, they stare at the floor and clear their minds.  Could Josh have misunderstood and thought father Jim Bob’s saying, “Nike” mean to “Just Do It?”  Or maybe Josh was just doing his (now former) job for the Family Research Council.  He may have needed firsthand data on the deterioration of the family in our modern society. Perhaps he will merely state what should be plain to the rest of us–he is human and screwed up big time–literally as well as figuratively in his case. Funny, I must have missed the “Nineteen Kids And Counting” episode on TLC where Josh claimed to be perfect since he was a Christian.

Fourth, who is this “adult film star,” Danica Dillon, that Josh allegedly had sex with on two separate occasions?  What are her credentials beyond, of course, the obvious movie credits (of which I mercifully have no personal knowledge)?  She must have a professional counseling degree since her advice to Anna on how to handle the situation (leave Josh) was given attention in articles in which her liaison was addressed..  Of course, she (who purportedly agreed to have sex with Josh for $1,500 after picking him up in a club) would be morally outraged at his betrayal of his wife.  And, GASP!  She didn’t know he was married.  Because certainly she would not sell herself to any man other than an unmarried one.

Fifth, why is Josh’s cousin Amy Duggar (now blissfully King as a result of her recent wedding) currently front and center in media reports?  Amy says says she’s “furious” with Josh, Amy couldn’t wait to change her last name from Duggar, etc.  While “Nineteen Kids And Counting” was running, Amy was an afterthought.  Other than an episode where she took off for Nashville to seek fame and fortune as a country singer, she was relegated to cameo appearances on the series..  Now, the media apparently can’t get enough of her.  If she’s still into country music, she could have a hit on her hands.  The sad situation with her cousin Josh should give her ample fodder to pen a hit country song, “His Cheatin’ Heart.”  Then again, maybe not.  She’s too busy giving interviews to People magazine and snapping pics from her Cancun honeymoon to have much time for songwriting.

Sadly, the media’s narrow focus is on Josh’s sins and making him pay publicly for them. Reporters don’t seem to inquire about anything else but his misdeeds.  We get “Umpteen Sins And Counting” ad nauseum,  If you wonder about anything else but that topic, you will be left still wondering.  Sure Josh screwed up, but the media is screwing up by pounding on his sins only and not providing information on related issues which inquiring minds like mine and hopefully yours want to know.

ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN

11896117_10203260258587036_6247115123293905753_nSometimes life seems to be going along wonderfully, and then something tragic happens to really make you wonder. My daughter and her young family experienced the heartbreaking loss of their beloved dog, Athena, a 3 year old Golden Retriever, over the Labor Day weekend. The overwhelming loss and grief made my daughter declare that she never wants to get another dog.

While you want to protect yourself emotionally, did you ever wonder what life would be like without dogs in our lives? Well, without them it wouldn’t be quite as wonderful. If you’ve never had a dog, you don’t understand that a dog is not just a pet–he/she is a full-fledged member of the family. Moreover, dogs are our most faithful and loyal companions; they are truly man’s best friend. OK, for me, woman’s best friend.

Dogs love us unconditionally. They don’t care if we don’t have makeup on, haven’t showered or aren’t wearing the latest fashion. In fact, they could care less if we have clothes on at all. A caveat to that statement is that my dogs do care if I am wearing sneakers because that means that they are getting ready to go out for a walk with me. (Otherwise I am barefoot around the house.) Dogs don’t care if we go on vacation and leave them behind. Upon our return they are there to greet us with tails wagging furiously and slobbery kisses to bestow. Unlike humans, they won’t try to make us feel bad for not having spent as much time with them as they think we should. They don’t give us the silent treatment, i.e., “OK, so you went away for the weekend without me–see if I talk to you for awhile.”

Dogs are our protectors. They are the best home security system ever. No one gets anywhere near our house without us being alerted far in advance. My dogs would fight to the death to keep that vicious squirrel scampering about on the front lawn from getting anywhere near us.

Dogs get us. They sense when we are down or upset. When I cried copious tears for the loss of my precious granddog, Athena, my dog Oryo was all over me licking the salty drops from my cheeks and trying to comfort me. Dogs also understand that we need a boost at the end of a long hard day at work.  They are always there to greet us excitedly and enthusiastically at the door regardless of when we arrive home and what mood we are in when we do.

Dogs are our personal trainers. Sure you’d love to be a couch potato, but who can resist those big eyes and the whines of your four-legged family member who is longing to explore the world outside your yard? Resistance training is in. You’ll be tugging on that leash with all your might to prevent a close encounter with the neighbor’s cat on the evening “stroll.”

Dogs facilitate social interactions. The easiest way to start a conversation is to ask about someone’s dog. Ever been to a dog park? No one there is aloof and standoffish. Dogs always provide a common ground for conversation for pet owners. You also get to know your neighbors because your dog alerts you to the fact that the house by which you are walking has a cat or dog by his behavior, i.e., barking at their canine or straining at the leash to chase their kitty.

Dogs know that you love a good laugh. That’s why they do outlandish things like steal your roast off the kitchen counter or climb up on your roof when you aren’t looking. Well, sometimes the humor is like fine wine–it improves with age, i.e., distance in time from the event.

Even though the grief of losing a dog rolls over you like waves threatening to take you under, it is the necessary flip side to the ocean of joy, smiles and laughter received from your furbaby. The sorrow wouldn’t cut so deeply if there wasn’t a deep, strong bond forged between the species.

Life, yours or a dog’s, has to end at some point. Then what? The survivor has to put one foot (or paw) in front of the other and move on. Life continues although with a cloud hanging over it. The pain and ache will dull, but the memories and love will always be there.

And I have to wonder if death is even the end. They (whoever “they”) are, say that all dogs go to heaven. No one can know for sure, but it is my firm belief that they do. Pope Francis apparently agrees with me. When trying to comfort a boy mourning the loss of his dog, the pope said that “paradise is open to all God’s creatures.” Moreover, he expressly stated, “One day we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ.” And why not? When God created the Garden of Eden, a paradise on Earth, He filled it with animals before he made man. What kind of paradise would heaven be without all of God’s creatures, animals as well as man? If there are no tears in heaven, it is because we are with the God of love and our loved ones, whether two-legged or four-legged.

For now, I mourn for our Athena. We loved her deeply, and she reciprocated. We may wonder why she was taken so tragically and so young, but we thank God for the wonderful times we had with her. Can’t wait to see you (and Beauregard, Belle and Sarah–all the dogs we’ve loved) again in heaven, sweet Athena. What a wonderful reunion it will be!