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Judge James Michael Shull Removed from the Bench Following Bizarre Behavior in Courtroom

Judge James Michael Shull  of Virginiawas recently removed from the bench following some bizarre behavior in the courtroom. The Virginia Judicial Inquiry & Review Commission issue this opinion. Some of the major criticisms of Judge Shull’s behavior including him forcing a woman in a custody hearing to remove her pants to show him a wound she claims her husband inflicted.  According to the opinion, Shull order the woman to remove her pants in open court not once, but twice.  The Commission also pointed out that in a previous custody hearing Shull had decided a visitation issue by flipping a coin in open court.  It seems that this wasn’t Judge Shull’s first time in from of the Commission for improper conduct.  In 2004, Shull was brought before the commission on allegations he called a 14-year old a “mama’ boy” and a “wussy.”  The 2004 panel also determined that during a domestive violence hearing Shull had told a woman she should marry the man accused of beating her.In taking a step that had only occured once before, the Commission removed a sitting judge from the bench by holding: “We further conclude that Judge Shull’s violations of the Canons were grave and substantial. A judge’s act of tossing a coin in a courtroom to decide a legal issue pending before the court suggests that courts do not decide cases on their merits but instead subject litigants to games of chance in serious matters without regard to the evidence or applicable law. Such conduct may have a profoundly negative impact, not only on the parties’ ability to accept the “rule of law” imposed in their particular case, but also on the public’s confidence in and respect for the judiciary. In order for our justice system to maintain the confidence and respect of the public, judicial decisions must be based on the evidence and pertinent law. The contrary actions of Judge Shull, reduced to their essence, were actions that denigrated the litigants whose case he decided and subjected our justice system to ridicule.”
Kentucky’s Judge are held to Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct.

Hans Poppe

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