/ November 11, 2007

Judge’s Fate Decided by Coin Toss

Engaging in a coin toss is a simple, efficient and completely arbitrary way of settling an issue. Practicing such a method is usually reserved in arenas without legal ramifications and in situations where one does not have access to hundreds of years of judicial precedent. Judge James Shull, however, thought flipping a coin was good enough to solve a custody dispute over which parent would have their child during Christmas.

Another subject of controversy was Jude Shull’s request to have a woman her pants in front of the court to showcase a wound that was the result of a domestic dispute. The woman was encouraged to do this even though Judge Shull knew of her history of mental issues.

These two incidents, coupled with prior instances of judicial censure resulted in his removal from the bench following a unanimous vote of the Virginia Supreme Court. According to one of the deciding Justices, Barbara Keenan; “Unless our citizens can trust that judges will fairly resolve the disputes brought before our courts, and treat all litigants with dignity, our courts will lose the public’s respect and confidence upon which our legal system depends.”

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