From the Wall Street Journal Law Blog:
Clipboards Had Minnesota Judge Seeing Red
October 25, 2010
By Michael Rothfeld
Judges can get persnickety, you might say, about certain kinds of behavior in their courtrooms. Witness intimidation would bother just about any jurist, for example. Forgetting to silence cell phones probably would, too.
And then there are red clipboards.
Jack Nordby, a judge in Hennepin County Minnesota (pictured), apparently felt so menaced by the red clipboards carried by WATCH, a courtroom watchdog group that focuses on cases of violence against women and children, racial disparities and other issues, that he read aloud a courtroom speech comparing the hue of the clipboards to gang colors worn by the Bloods or the Crips. An ABA Journal post on the issue is here. Click here for a story from the Minnesota Star-Tribune. A Civil Society blog post here quotes from Nordby’s statement: “We have encountered in recent years an occasional problem with gang members allegedly using gang signs and insignia to influence or intimidate witnesses. The dynamic of the phenomenon is essentially the same.”
He called the red clipboard “an ingenious device,” which “says, principally to the judge but to others as well: ‘We are watching you. We do not trust you.’”
In WATCH’s subsequent complaint to the Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards, the group said Nordby had accused the group of having a sexist agenda, and a “nefarious influence” in justice system, among other failings.
In a formal complaint made public last week, the Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards accused Nordby of misconduct for publicly airing his disdain for WATCH in his courtroom.
Representatives for Nordby disputed those charges; he is appealing the complaint to the state Supreme Court.