Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Nothing Wrong With Attaching Poem to Decision, Judge Tells CJP
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren E. McMaster has responded to the State Commission on Judicial Performance after it authorized a staff inquiry into his conduct for including a poem in a tentative ruling, his attorney said yesterday.
James A. Murphy, who insisted that neither he nor the judge authorized the release of the commission’s letter regarding the inquiry, a copy of which was obtained by the MetNews last week, said that McMaster complied with the commission’s Sept. 4, 2007 deadline to respond and that a determination by the commission as to whether to proceed remains pending.
Murphy, of Murphy, Pearson, Bradley & Feeney in San Francisco, contended that the commission’s letter was not an accurate description of what had taken place.
He said that the case arose after a woman brought suit against her neighbor for allowing a vine to grow on her property and damage her roof. When McMaster tentatively ruled that one count one count of intentional infliction of emotional distress be dismissed, he outlined his reasoning in an order, and merely summarized the reasoning in a poem appearing at the end.
Murphy did not think further action by the commission was warranted.
“If you punish a judge for that, then everyone considering wearing judicial robes will say ‘why should I go through the agony of this kind of scrutiny?’” he said.
The commission had notified McMaster in August of its vote to authorize a staff inquiry into his inclusion of the poem, which read:
Defendant planted a creeping vine
That crept and crawled and soon entwined
Itself in plaintiff’s roof, and made a mess
Causing plaintiff to suffer great distress
This lawsuit follows but leaves unsaid
Why plaintiff didn’t whack the vine instead
McMaster, who is assigned to the civil law and motions court, issued the order on Dec. 5, 2006 while presiding over the matter of Mendoza v. Deffner.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company