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Originally published April 10, 2009 at 1:53 PM | Page modified April 10, 2009 at 2:39 PM

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King County judge again punished for rudeness

The state's Judicial Conduct Commission censured Judge Judith Eiler today and suggested that the state Supreme Court suspend her for 90 days without pay.

AP Legal Affairs Writer

King County's own "Judge Judy" is once again being punished for rudeness.

The state's Judicial Conduct Commission censured Judge Judith Eiler today and suggested that the state Supreme Court suspend her for 90 days without pay.

The commission says Eiler frequently cut off defendants when they tried to speak, belittled them and didn't allow them to present evidence — the same conduct that drew a reprimand for Eiler from the commission in 2005.

"Witnesses ... testified that they left the judge's courtroom with little respect for the judiciary or the judicial process," the opinion said. "They felt they did not have the opportunity to present their case; that they were scolded, intimidated, mistreated and threatened that their case would be decided not upon the facts, but upon how they responded to the judge."

Eiler, who works in a courtroom in Issaquah, completed sensitivity training following the earlier reprimand.

Her lawyer, Anne Bremner, says she's just a no-nonsense judge with an extremely high caseload and that people appearing before her are sometimes upset when she won't dismiss their traffic tickets.

"Her name is Judge Judy, but she's not like 'Judge Judy' on TV," Bremner said. "She's a very tough, old-fashioned judge and she loves what she does. She wants people to be better for having appeared before her."

Bremner said she was pleased the commission only recommended a suspension; the commission's counsel had recommended removal from the bench.

One commission member, Pierce County Superior Court Judge John A. McCarthy, issued a dissent in which he disagreed with the call for a suspension. He said that while Eiler was often loud and intimidating, there's no evidence she made incorrect decisions or that her integrity was in question.

"This case is about how she delivers justice and communicates with litigants in a fast-paced, high-volume court with limited time to listen to people, decipher the evidence and make a correct decision in small claims and traffic cases with a couple of minutes to hear each case," McCarthy wrote.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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