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Sad Case of a Troubled Judge

A jury yesterday convicted the former Oklahoma judge who may forever be known as "the penis-pump judge." The trial was characterized by awkward moments and courtroom giggles and elicited wink-of-the-eye headlines such as Penis Pump Judge Faces Stiff Sentence. Slate even devoted an article to answering the question, Do Penis Pumps Work?

But as we were elbowing each other in the ribs, we seemed to overlook the obvious tragedy and pain of this case. Throughout, Judge Donald M. Thompson maintained his innocence, insisting that the device was a prank gift he never used. The testimony strongly suggested otherwise, revealing a troubled man who should have found help before throwing away his career and his reputation. And what of those who witnessed his behavior? Lisa Foster, the former court reporter who was a key witness in the trial, was reported to have been in tears as she testified that Thompson's actions shocked and scared her.

This was the case of an emotionally damaged man causing emotional damage to others. Such cases are not uncommon, unfortunately. But given that the man at the center of this case was a judge, we as lawyers should be asking how it happened and how it can be prevented elsewhere. How did so troubled a man continue to serve on the bench without detection or intervention? Should the justice system do more to weed out troubled judges? When we're all done guffawing, let's consider what should be done.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on June 30, 2006 at 04:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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