Sunday, February 22, 2015

Judge Reprimanded For Questioning Defendant Over Religious Head Covering

In In re Ladenburg, (WA Commn. on Judicial Conduct, Feb. 20, 2015), the Washington Commission on Judicial Conduct in a consent order reprimanded municipal court judge David Ladenburg for challenging a criminal defendant wearing a fedora in the courtroom for religious reasons. The facts, as stipulated by the parties, showed that the judge told the defendant who said the hat was worn as part of his Jewish belief that he must bring evidence supporting his decision to wear that particular kind of head covering.  The judge threatened otherwise to have it removed.  In defense of his actions, the judge said he was unfamiliar with wearing of a fedora instead of a yarmulke. In 2006, the same judge had been issued an admonishment by the Commission for requiring a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf for religious reasons to remove it or leave his court room. (See prior posting.) The Tacoma News Tribune reports on yesterday's Commission action.