Somewhere, Steven Bochco Is Smiling…

In Steven Bochco TV legal dramas—the immortal “Hill Street Blues” was the best of them—everyone was sleeping with everyone else in the judicial and law enforcement system. Police chiefs were having affairs with defense attorneys, prosecutors were having affairs with judges, judges were having affairs with defendants. It was ridiculous, if entertaining, but gave an absurdly misleading impression to the gullible public about the legal system. Later, as Bochco’s star was waning, writer-producer David Kelley continued the myth with his many legal dramas

However, this is not to say that such unethical relationships don’t occasionally occur. Bochco, who died in 2018, would like this story, since he could have written it.

Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission on Tuesday filed a complaint against Coffee County District Judge Christopher Kaminski, alleging that he has been carrying on a romantic relationship with an attorney who frequently practices in his court.

According to the complaint, which automatically suspends the judge with pay pending a hearing, Kaminski and the unnamed attorney began a romantic relationship around June 2017 and that it continues. During the time of their relationship, the judge appointed his girlfriend to cases, ruled on them, entered judicial orders for her to receive legal fees, and did not  disqualify himself from cases for which she was attorney of record.

 Kaminski  resigned as soon as the complaint was filed,  claiming  that it was not “financially feasible” for him to fight the allegations.

Right.  As you can tell from reading the complaint, they have him dead to rights. One characteristic of an unethical judge who would behave this way is that he would also have no problem with lying . As for the lawyer-girl friend, she can expect a hearing herself, this one from the Alabama Bar’s disciplinary committee.

What always bothered me about Bochco’s legal Lotharios and Lotharias is that they were usually his  series’ good guys. Deliberate creation of professional conflicts of interest is not the act of “good guys.” It is the act of unprofessional, untrustworthy, undisciplined and unethical hacks.

Also reckless and stupid ones—what could have led the judge and lawyer to think they could ever get away with this?

3 thoughts on “Somewhere, Steven Bochco Is Smiling…

  1. Well, the heart wants what the heart wants, right?

    I have this theory that television doesn’t really reflect the culture as the bigwigs say it does; rather, what we see on television has an impact on culture and cultural norms. The problem is that they don’t want to acknowledge that.

    The same people that celebrate how television brought Americans together during the moon landing and after the Kennedy assassination, broke racial barriers by showing the first interracial kiss and helped steer American public opinion against the Vietnam War by its endless negative coverage are the same people that don’t want to accept responsibility for a coarsened culture, desensitization to extreme violence or the objectification of women.

    Or, as Michael Scott said, “I want all of the credit and none of the blame”.

    So we shouldn’t be surprised. But we should fight the negative influence by making sure that those around us understand concepts like conflicts of interests and appearances of impropriety.

    And, hey, let’s be careful out there.

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