U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Federal Judge Makes Sexist Remarks, Gets Reversed

Judge Lynn Hughes' federal district courtroom may have earned itself a reputation as one litigators want to avoid. Simply put, wild-card judges often cause appealable issues, and appeals are expensive, and Judge Hughes is proving to be one such wild-card.

Judge Hughes isn't yelling for attorneys to get off his lawn, though based on the remarks the Fifth Circuit is blasting him over this time, he probably would. Apparently Judge Hughes actually said the following to a woman prosecutor:

"It was lot simpler when you guys wore dark suits, white shirts and navy ties ... We didn't let girls do it in the old days."

Judge Hughes also berated the attorney over her management of the prosecution, and dismissed the underlying criminal matter with prejudice due to delayed discovery production. As the appellate court explained, his actions and statements were both an abuse of discretion, in error, and disgraceful.

What Happened Here?

The underlying case involved a criminal prosecution for fraud by the United States against an adoption agency owner that would allegedly match multiple adoptive parents up to the same birth mothers, and would then go incommunicado after accepting payments.

The prosecution struggled to get the evidence in a timely fashion via third party subpoenas, and had to find alternative means to secure the electronic evidence. As noted by the appellate court, the prosecution did turn over everything before trial, and another continuance would not have been out of the question, even despite the age of the case. In fact, as the appellate court explained, the procedural posture almost required another continuance, and defense counsel refused, which the appellate court further explained meant that time cannot be used by the district court as the basis of prejudice to the defendant.

Judge Hughes in the News

Judge Lynn Hughes is no stranger to making headlines. Almost ironically it seems, just a couple months ago, the Fifth Circuit had to order him to actually rule on a motion that had been pending for two years. The litigants actually had to go up to the Fifth Circuit to get an order forcing the judge to rule. Waiting a couple hours for a jury can be hard enough, imagine a two year wait!

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