During a restraining order hearing yesterday, a judge in Fort Lauderdale failed to show restraint himself.
As this courtroom video shows (about 40 seconds in), Judge Ian Richards was informing the defendant that he was going to jail for violating the restraining order, when the defendant John Charles Reasee suddenly attacked the complaining witness. The defendant yanked his ex-girlfriend over to the bench, and landed at least one blow with a closed fist.
Although court officers and a lawyer reacted fast to try to pull Reasee off, the judge joined them in the fray. Judge Richards swiftly clambered over the bench, getting to the defendant at about the same time as the bailiff.
Now, judges certainly are in charge of enforcing courtroom decorum. And he was certainly doing a good deed by rushing without hesitation to the aid of a woman being attacked. But judges aren’t supposed to get personally involved, and his assistance wasn’t really needed. We think it was a significant error of judgment for the judge to jump in, instead of letting the officers do the job they’re trained to do.
Still, the new judge has certainly earned a reputation that we’d expect to last for the rest of his time on the bench.