'Frequent flyer' Judge Bruce Morrow gets a break in sexual taunting case – Detroit Free Press

wp header logo 1139
Spread the love

In the end, Judge Bruce Morrow got a break.
The twice-disciplined judge got to keep his job after the Michigan Supreme Court on Thursday suspended him without pay for six months for making crass and sexual comments in court — behavior that could have gotten him removed from the bench.
The Judicial Tenure Commission had recommended a 12-month suspension — which would have ended Morrow’s judicial career in Wayne County Circuit Court — concluding he committed judicial misconduct when he sexually taunted female prosecutors during a 2019 murder trial.
According to the JTC complaint, Morrow’s misconduct included: talking about the “climax of sex” with one prosecutor; using an F-bomb to describe sex; mocking the defendant over the size of his penis in chambers; asking a prosecutor during a trial break, “Would you want foreplay before or after sex?”; and asking a prosecutor her height and weight.
Morrow asked the Supreme Court to reject or modify the commission’s recommendation, arguing, among other things, that he was immune from discipline for comments he made from the bench and that he had been denied due process.
Morrow’s lawyer also accused the judicial panel of “twisting the facts” and using “inflammatory language and false statements” to “make Judge Morrow appear monstrous.”
“Bruce Morrow used sex in a few analogies, just as other lawyers, judges and legal scholars have done,”  Donald Campbell,  one of Morrow’s lawyers in the case, argued in a court filing. “He also used the word “f —-d” during an in-chambers discussion to describe sex —and one of his listeners was the prosecutor who had just used that word twice in open court and allowed a witness to take the stand with that word on her shirt.”
Morrow’s lawyer continued: ” And he asked two prosecutors about their height and weight, just as he raised a male attorney’s height when talking to a jury about bias.  Those actions were not judicial misconduct. And that is why (the) disciplinary counsel tries to twist the facts to turn Judge Morrow into a sexual predator.”
He denied Morrow “hit on” a prosecutor.
More:Complaint: Detroit judge sexually taunted prosecutors: ‘You want foreplay?’
More:Detroit man freed from life sentence after investigation shows trial was unfair
“The truth is that Judge Morrow used words that some find distasteful. That is all. And that is not judicial misconduct.”
The Michigan Supreme Court disagreed, concluding that Morrow had engaged in judicial misconduct.  But as for punishment, the high court held that a six-month suspension was more appropriate for Morrow “given the severity of (his) conduct relative to that in other judicial discipline cases.”
The high court also noted that Morrow’s conduct did not affect the rights of the person on trial.
The six-month suspension triggered a blistering dissent from Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra, who told the disciplinary panel that Morrow is a “frequent flyer” who has “failed” to learn “anything” from his past and should have lost his job.
“This is not the first disciplinary proceeding in which (Morrow’s) inappropriate courtroom behavior has been the subject of discipline,” Zahra wrote. “Given (Morrow’s) history of judicial misconduct, his lack of remorse, and the absence of any assurance that (he) will conform to the rules of judicial conduct in his waning days in office, I strain to find any rational basis to reward (him) with a lesser suspension.”
Zahra added: “It is rare for any judge of this state to have been publicly found to have committed judicial misconduct … (and) to have twice committed misconduct without having resigned or been removed from office.”
According to the complaint, here is what led to Morrow’s six-month suspension:
On June 11, 2019, during a break in a homicide trial, an assistant prosecutor asked the judge for feedback on her direct examination of a witness. The judge said he would come down from the bench to talk to her personally “because what he was going to say to her would make her ‘blush.’ “
Morrow came down from the bench, sat next to the assistant prosecutor, “placed his head very close to her head” and started asking her questions. “So when a man and a woman are close, they start by holding hands, rubbing elbows, kissing, foreplay, then that leads to sex?” 
The judge continued: “You want the foreplay before the sexual intercourse. That’s what we call cuddling. No, you start with holding hands.”
The judge, the complaint said, was making an analogy to the prosecutor to the effect that “the climax of sex is akin to getting the medical examiner to state the cause and manner of death after getting the details of his examination of the body.” 
The judge continued: “You start with all the information from the report, all the testimony crescendos to the cause and manner of death, which is the sex of the testimony.” 
The judge also suggested to the prosecutor that “you want to tease the jury with the details of the examination … lead them to the climax of the manner and cause of death.”  This discussion caused the prosecutor “to feel ‘frozen’ and afraid to move,” the complaint states.
Then came jury deliberations, and the misbehavior continued.
While the jury deliberated, Morrow invited defense lawyers and prosecutors to join him in chambers, where he chastised a female prosecutor for presenting evidence to the jury that the murder suspect’s DNA was found on the victim’s vaginal swab.
“All you did was show they f—–!” the judge allegedly told the prosecutor.
Then he “made fun” of the defendant’s testimony that he and the victim did not have sex in a normal manner because she was pregnant and he did not want to hurt the baby.
Morrow is also accused of asking female lawyers about their appearance. 
In the 2019 homicide case, for example, the judge allegedly approached the prosecutor’s table and asked an assistant prosecutor how tall she was and how much she weighed. He asked the other assistant prosecutor whether she weighed 115 pounds. When she responded with respect to her weight, the judge said, “Well, I haven’t assessed your muscle mass yet.'”
This isn’t Morrow’s first run-in with the disciplinary panel.
In 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court suspended Morrow without pay for 60 days for “continually doing what he wanted regardless of the law.” The JTC had filed a complaint alleging that Morrow had committed misconduct in 10 cases, including many in which he was allegedly overly friendly with defendants. The misconduct claims include: 
Morrow could not be reached for comment.
Contact Tresa Baldas: tbaldas@freepress.com

source

Read Previous

Ondo Records 32 Cases Of Lassa Fever, Two Death In One Week

Read Next

Gunmen Attacks Police College, No Abduction -Abdul Umar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.