Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

9 Judges Who Disgraced the Bench

Judges are leaders who are expected to exercise good judgment when presiding over cases. For the most part, judges have no problem using good judgment in and outside of court, but by no means are they perfect. These men and women do not have legal immunity, and when they break the law, they pay for it like every other citizen. Here are 9 judges who disgraced the bench:

  1. Judge William Adams

    Texas Judge William Adams disgraced the bench when a video was released of him viciously lashing his then-16-year-old daughter because she was illegally downloading from the Internet. Hillary Adams, now 23, posted the clip on YouTube to show her father’s true colors and prevent him from being re-elected as the Aransas County court-at-law judge. To make matters worse, Adams presides over child abuse cases. The family law judge could not be charged with injury to a child or assault because the five-year statute of limitations has passed since the incident.

  2. Clarence Thomas

    Before Clarence Thomas was appointed to the High Court, he was accused of sexual harassment by his former assistant, Anita Hill. The controversial Senate hearings were largely a matter of "he said, she said." Hill said Thomas subjected her to graphic discussions of pornography and made unsolicited sexual advances. Thomas denied all of the allegations and called the incident "legal lynching." He received his commission and became a member of the Supreme Court.

  3. Judge Samuel Kent

    Texas Judge Samuel Kent disgraced the bench when he was indicted for allegedly sexually abusing his former case manager in 2008. The next year, Kent was accused of sexually abusing another court employee. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison. Kent is the first-known federal judge ever charged with a federal sex crime.

  4. Judge James Heath

    Judge James Heath found himself in deep water when he was arrested for drunk driving. The Warren County common pleas judge had been arrested for the same charges months before and a video of his first arrest leaked onto the Internet. Heath pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving and attended a three-day counseling program, but 18 hours after his second such arrest, Heath committed suicide.

  5. Mark Ciavarella

    Mark Ciavarella, a Pennsylvania juvenile court judge, disgraced the bench when he got caught accepting money to send minors to juvenile prison. The scandal became known as "kids for cash." Ciavarella accepted nearly $1 million to send kids to the private detention facility on minor or questionable charges. In 2011, Ciavarella was convicted of several charges, including money laundering and racketeering conspiracy, and was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

  6. George R. Korpita

    New Jersey Judge George R. Korpita disgraced the bench when he was arrested for drunk driving and allegedly told the police officers to "get the Vaseline out and bend over." Korpita was suspended from practicing law for three months after the incident, but he ultimately decided to resign in 2007. Korpita pleaded guilty to threatening a public servant and his drunken driving charge.

  7. Judge John Suddock

    Superior Court Judge John Suddock violated judicial rules when he approached a state commissioner outside of court and discussed the case. The Alaska judge argued that he was simply alerting the commissioner that it was a prime time to delegate his statutory representative, but this conflict of interest did not sit well with the defendant’s attorney.

  8. Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson

    Gerald Garson is a former New York Supreme Court Justice who found himself in the hot seat when got caught accepting bribes to settle custody in a divorce case. Garson was convicted of taking $1,000 cash "referral fee" and other gifts from the divorce lawyer he appointed. Garson’s violation of judicial conduct got him disbarred as an attorney and he spent more than two years in prison.

  9. Judge Thomas Porteous

    New Orleans Federal Judge Thomas Porteous disgraced the bench when he kept his relationship with a lawyer in a federal case a secret. In addition to perjury, Porteous was also accused of taking bribes from lawyers and a bail bond company, which included money and expensive meals. This kind of misconduct meets the Constitution’s "high crimes and misdemeanors" criteria for impeachment and he was impeached in March 2010 by the House of Representatives.