Thursday, April 17, 2003

Tall tales from judges' speech reported in Virginia Lawyers Weekly

This week's VLW was spiced by this report (subscription required) of judge tales told by two judges, Campbell County Circuit Judge J. Samuel Johnston Jr. and New Kent County Circuit Judge Thomas B. Hoover, including the following:

"Hoover told the one about the 17-year-old defendant who sat at trial and watched the surveillance tape of the drug deal he was charged with. The defendant said, "Hey! I'm on TV!" "The lawyer kicked him out of the way and said, 'Go ahead and just plead guilty now,'" Hoover recollected.


This one always bears repeating. Johnston repeated it:

A peeping Tom was on trial, and a handwriting expert was testifying about a note the accused had left, which said, "I want to have sex with you." The note was passed around the jury box until it reached a juror who had dozed off. Wakened, he took the note, read it, looked back at the female juror who had handed it to him, and put it in his pocket.

After which, Hoover chimed in, the judge said, "I need that note, please." "Oh no, judge," the juror said. "This is between me and her."


Johnston again: Farmer Jones was brought in to testify about the character of a litigant. He'd known her all his life, Jones stated. They grew up together, their families were friends. What, he was asked, was her reputation for truthfulness and veracity?

Jones pondered the question, then responded that he'd never known her not to tell the truth. "As for her veracity, some say she will and some say she won't," he said.


Johnston recalled a Judge George Abbott in Appomattox County, who found one of his former clients before him faced with criminal charges. The client was delighted — Abbott had gotten him off the earlier time. Now-Judge Abbott found him guilty. Disappointed, the defendant said, "You were a hell of a lot better lawyer than you are a judge."


And, finally, there was a request Johnston received for early release from jail. The reason? "My mother's dying of prostate cancer."

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