February 6, 2015 By Wallin & Klarich

What do you think would happen to you or your case if you show up late to a court hearing? You may reasonably expect to be sanctioned by the judge and be required to pay a fine, or you may expect to have your case be rescheduled for review at a later date.

On the other hand, what if the judge is late to your court hearing? Should he or she receive a penalty for being late as well? If so, who should be responsible to sanction the judge for not showing up on time? What punishment would the judge face?

San Diego Judge Fines Himself $25.00 for Delay

judge fines himselfRecently, a judge in a San Diego court arrived 10 minutes late to a telephone conference. For his delay, the judge opted to order himself to pay a $25 fine. Have I ever seen any other judge impose a fine on him or herself for not being on time to a court hearing? The answer is simple: no.

I have heard of attorneys that have been imposed fines for showing up late, yet I have never encountered a situation where the judge chooses to fine himself in order to set an example for others to follow. In this case, the judge decided to hold himself accountable for his inability to show up on time. This is a noble thing to do, but it leaves me questioning whether the fine is equal to those who fail to appear on time in the judge’s court.

Should Judge’s Action Set a Precedent for Other Judges?

The judge’s attempt to set an example by showing that he is not above the law may be deemed a respectable act by many of us. Not only does it set a shining example for other judges, but it also serves as an example to lawyers and defendants who appear before the judge that he respects their time. However, does he impose the same $25 fine to other individuals who are late to his courtroom? If a defendant is late, would he or she be subject to the same fine or would the defendant face harsher penalties? If he does, then he really is showing with his actions that he is not above the law.

We Want to Hear Your Thoughts

At Wallin & Klarich, we want to hear your thoughts on this controversial issue. Some of us may hold leadership positions, but how many of us actually lead by example? Do we really make an effort to abide by the same rules that we expect others to follow? What are your thoughts about the judge’s decision to fine himself? If you were in the judge’s position, would you have done the same thing to hold yourself accountable for your actions?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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