Darrell Brooks, accused as the killer in the Waukesha Christmas Parade massacre (yes, he did it), has been defiant and combative throughout his trial, in which he is serving as his own defense attorney. This time, he slammed his fist on the table and stared menacingly at Judge Jennifer Dorow. As Count Floyd (Joe Flaherty), the cheesy host of Monster Chiller Horror Theater in a recurring SCTV skit used to say, “Ooooh! Scary!” So the judge fled the courtroom.
“I need to take a break,” Judge Dorow said. “This man right now is having a staredown with me. It’s very disrespectful, he pounded his fist, frankly, it makes me scared and we’re taking a break.”
It made her “scared’! As the judge, she has all of the power, and the criminal defendant has none. Judges have faced evil glares from maniacs, murderers, cannibals, rapists and the worst dregs of humanity for centuries, but I’ve never heard of one being so tender and faint-hearted that she couldn’t take the metaphorical heat and had to hide.
Dorow’s weenie act is a straight-up breach of the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct. It says that “A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining and enforcing high standards of conduct and shall personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary will be preserved.” It commands that judges “shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” It requires judges to “maintain professional competence” and “require order and decorum in proceedings.”
What a disgrace. Running from the scary man making faces at her denigrates the court system, judges, and women in authority. It also may prejudice the trial and give Brooks a basis for an appeal. Judge Dorow has made it clear that she doesn’t have the fortitude to do her job in this trial, and should recuse herself. I would recommend that a judicial panel seriously consider whether she should remain a judge at all.