Not for anything she did to a defendant, unfortunately. No, the hammer came down on Ms. Cline because she intemperately criticized a judge.
You know, decorum has its place. It would be nice if the legal profession and the judiciary observed the gentlemanly standards we imagine it once did, but that’s a mere sentiment at this point. There is a reality underneath that has chipped away and eroded the foundations of all that, and whether or not the professional courtesies and protocols were ever as scrupulously observed as we might imagine, surely that moment has long since passed.
No use crying over spilled milk. Like a lot of things that are wrong with the legal system in the 21st century, there is plenty of blame to go around.
I see no reason at present why judges should be exempt from public criticism by lawyers, who after all are in a position to know when something a judge does should be criticized when others aren’t. And I see no reason why judges can’t respond and defend themselves. The only problem, of course, is that their conduct is so frequently indefensible – but then that’s their problem, not the lawyer’s. If that makes their position too difficult for them, there are always ambitious others who are willing and anxious to take their place.
On the other hand, if the profession would ever like to restore itself to its former gentility and grace I am all for it. Judges first, though. Return to being honest arbiters of disputes following consistent rules applied regardless of the status of the litigants and lawyers, and I can see some rationale for restraint imposed as a matter of professional ethics. But make a mockery of it, where the only consistent rules are 1) the government wins, 2) the bank wins, and 3) the insurance company wins, don’t expect a pass from the lawyers on the receiving end.
You want to be treated like a judge, or at least the way you think judges used to be treated? Act like one. You’ll have to cross the powers that be from time to time. You know, the people who put you in your position. That’s the job, the hard part. It pisses big important people off, but no one’s forcing you to wear a robe.
Do your job and maybe others will do theirs. In the meantime you have no moral standing to seek punishment of a lawyer who is basically trying to make up for your failure. He’s not a threat to the sound administration of justice – you are.