Likelihood of Success

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The Honorable Bill Mathesius simply doesn’t give a hoot

Posted by Ron Coleman on June 11, 2007

And thus he self-destructs his judicial career in style. Judge Bill Mathesius, who was Mercer County, New Jersey’s king for what I thought was life when I was spending the second half of my childhood there, is flaming out big time on the New Jersey state bench. You just don’t see a judge write stuff like this:

I authored the opinion – “opinion” being what I thought the operative word – known as State v. Harris in October, 2002 where I was indiscreet enough to question our State’s and court’s muddling of the death penalty. I indecorously took note of the court energy and millions of taxpayer dollars which are wasted on a dysfunctional morass. Don’t try to look my opinion up because it has been deemed “wholly devoid of any function in the judicial discourse of our death penalty jurisprudence” [4] by Justice LaVecchia, the author of her very own State v. Harris “opinion.” She also allowed “[t]he balance of the court’s statements contain what only can be described as outrageous [5], sarcastic [6], and pejorative [7] comments about this State’s death penalty system and this Court’s capital jurisprudence [8], including gratuitous personal attacks against current and former members of the Court.” [9] Consequently, she proclaimed, “such statements deserve no place in the published decisions of this State.” [10][11] The Justice’s caustic and anti-intellectual comments belie the fact that with her own 100-plus additional pages of deathless prose, she affirmed my conclusions regarding the substantive issues of Harris.

[12]Notwithstanding, with Harris, I painted the bull’s-eye on my own back – no one else to blame.

I failed to sufficiently take into account that there are those justices and judges whom, as the result of little more than political happenstance, become inured to a daily showering of reverence such that it mutates into an entitlement. In judiciary circles, independent thought which deviates from the ex cathedra from above is unwelcome. [13]

By the Justice’s decree, I became then, and as far as I know, the only judge in the United States who has had a written opinion stricken (imperiously, in my view) from the “judicial discourse,” [14] such as it is. [15] For a court – never mind the Supreme Court of New Jersey – to so indulge was, at the very least, a violation of democratic etiquette, if not a rather disingenuous expedition into censorship [16], seemingly antithetical to any notion of the First Amendment [17] of the Constitution of the United States of America [18]. This is, by the way, the very same Court that regularly (and proudly) expands Constitutional rights or discovers new ones lying here and about [19].

So it goes.

And so I was brought up on charges by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct (ACJC) [20], a judicial swat team of scolds led, interestingly enough by former Justice Alan Handler [21], mostly alleging my bringing of the “judicial office into disrepute.” [22][23] Moi?? Say it isn’t so.

Ouch. And, lastly, she determined that my statements “reveal a disdain for defendant.” Disrepute?

He actually has a valid point in there, but he’s a very bad writer, and that does not help. Via Above the Law (to whom I myself sent the original item a while ago).


4 Responses to “The Honorable Bill Mathesius simply doesn’t give a hoot”

  1. craig mclaughlin said

    I think that trumps Judge Walton’s footnote. Do Judges in New Jersey have life tenure or must they be reappointed or reelected?

  2. jaymaster said

    We need to rethink this idea of tenure.

    Whether its judges or professors or artists or whomever,

    the results of the last 20-30 years aren’t encouraging.

  3. horatio said


  4. Bob Miller said

    There should be a a seamless phase-out from the bench to the mob. It’s all one organization, which should simplify matters.

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