Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Dumb judge of the day: Via XRLQ comes this gem from Judge Ellar "I'm an arrogant moron who doesn't listen" Duff of Madison County, Missouri.
An Alton woman embroiled in a divorce case spent more than four hours in jail for contempt of court after she refused a Madison County's judge's order to return a handgun to her ex-husband, a convicted felon.
Elizabeth "Beth" Ritchie, 30, said that complying with Associate Judge Ellar Duff's order, delivered at a hearing on Thursday, would have required Ritchie to commit a crime herself.
It is a felony in Illinois for a felon to possess a firearm, and for anyone to transfer a gun to a felon.
Duff said in an interview Friday that she did not learn until after the hearing that Ritchie's ex-husband was a felon, and that she then ordered Beth Ritchie released from the Madison County Jail.
Ritchie said she tried to explain the situation to Duff in court but was ignored.
"I was being ordered by the law to break the law," Ritchie said. "And when I wouldn't, I got thrown in jail."
Read the whole thing. I started thinking to myself how I would deal with this situation if it were me in the courtroom. The answer: I'd probably still be in jail. One of my flaws is that I do not suffer fools lightly. Judge Duff is Grade A Prime fool.
I would've patiently explained to the judge why I couldn't hand over a gun to a convicted felon. If she refused to listen and persisted -- even to the point of ordering me held in contempt -- I'd have turned to the bailiff and demanded the judge be placed under citizen's arrest for conspiracy to transfer a firearm to a felon.
I'm sure it would've gotten me hustled into jail even quicker.
However, Judge Duff should be reprimanded for abuse of power by Missouri's judicial oversight body. It's no more than a slap on the wrist (it should be a slap across the face), but it's the least Dumb Duff deserves.