January 2013 - Private Justice
by Richard W. Millar, Jr.
According to my usual in-depth research lasting at least 15 minutes, Freud used the term “penis envy” to describe a girl’s early development when she realizes she doesn’t have a penis. The masculine corollary for young boys is what he referred to as “castration anxiety,” a term which brings chills down my spine even as I write this. Suffice it to say that if I had suffered from it, I think I would have remembered, but I digress.
That said, I have the temerity to suggest that Freud had it all wrong—not the phrase, but the explanation. I suggest that the phrase “penis envy” more appropriately describes a man who has an unnatural attachment to his . . . attachment.
As you, my readers, know, I have from time to time reported on the peccadillos (a word which from its onomatopoetic qualities, if not its exact meaning, seems particularly apt in this instance) of lawyers and not as often on members (another apt word as you shall see) of the judiciary. Well, it is time to right this imbalance.
Besides, I just couldn’t resist.
By way of a not completely irrelevant preface, Judge Willie Singletary first came to the attention of the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline in 2008. He received a public reprimand along with two years probation because, according to the opinion, while he was campaigning for election to the Philadelphia Traffic Court he appeared at a gathering of, and I am not making this up, the “Philadelphia First State Road Rattlers,” a group described as a “motorcycle club.” Mr. Singletary who was not yet a judge, but who may have a religious bent, first offered a ceremony called the “blessing of the bikes.” After that was accomplished, he passed the hat, or, in this case, a basket, perspicaciously suspecting that this particular audience was one that would offer repeat business in his courtroom should he win election.
He stated, again per the opinion, “There’s going to be a basket going around because I’m running for Traffic Court Judge, right, and I need some money. I got some stuff that I got to do, but if you all can give me twenty ($20) dollars you’re going to need me in Traffic Court, am I right about that?” “Now you all want me to get there, you’re all going to need my hook-up, right?”
He collected $285, which was a tad short of the $15,000 he said he needed “by Friday,” and it was duly reported on his Campaign Financial Report. Not surprisingly, the court found that his conduct in offering favorable treatment in return for financial contributions brought the judicial office into disrepute.
That’s what they call these days “the back story.” Now the “front story.”
During a slow night in the “impoundment” court when Judge Singletary had no cases, he started chatting with a young female cashier for a company which provided collection services for the Philadelphia Parking Authority who also had no customers. He allowed that he found her attractive, that he “would like to go out with her,” and that they “might choose to have an ‘intimate relationship.’” They apparently showed each other photos which they had stored on their respective cell phones. Interspersed among the pictures the judge showed the cashier were two that, shall we say, were consistent with the idea that he was seeking an intimate relationship. Immediately.
The woman, identified only as “F,” complained to her supervisor, which, in turn, led ultimately to the Court of Judicial Discipline. Judge Singletary argued that he didn’t realize those pictures were on his phone—a position with which the court candidly disagreed, stating that “characterizations of these actions may challenge the adjectival repertoire; but they were surely intentional.” The court also observed that photographing one’s attachment while it was standing at full attention, so to speak, was most likely “a memorable event.”
The court warned that a “judge who intentionally grooms his [you know what] for photography, and then intentionally photographs [it] for the purpose of display to others, had better remember that the photographs are in his phone lest they ‘slip out’ at some inopportune . . . time.”
From a public perspective the court opined: “We think that the public—even those members of the public who register the lowest scores on the sensitivity index—do not expect their judges to be conducting photo sessions featuring the judicial penis and then to be sending the photos over the electronic airwaves . . . .”
That activity is best left to the politicians.
Richard W. Millar, Jr. is a member of the firm of Millar, Hodges & Bemis in Newport Beach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.