U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Erotic Poem Gets Judge in Deeper Trouble

In Weber County, they call it "The Case of the Erotic Love Poem."

With a title like that, poetry reading might make a comeback in the Utah county. But it's not the kind of literature you would read to school children.

Craig Storey, a former judge, wrote it privately for a court employee. And that was the problem in Eisenhour v. Storey.

The Poem

It started in 2007, when Marcia Eisenhour worked for Storey at the county court. She said the judge rubbed his groin against her and told her a naked dream about her.

At one point, she discovered the erotic poem. In it, the judge wrote about her body and his desire to have sex with her.

She later sued, saying the judge harassed her and the county retaliated after she went to the press. A court awarded her $184,000 in damages, but threw out her punitive damages claim.

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals absolved the county, but said Eisenhour deserves a new trial on punitives.

Lyrical Fantasy

The appeals panel said a jury could conclude that Storey "knew that his conduct toward Eisenhour constituted prohibited sexual discrimination." He had received special, repeated training about sexual harassment, the panel noted.

In his defense, Storey argued that the poem was not intended to harass anybody. It was just a lyrical fantasy.

"But it reveals Storey's strong sexual feelings toward her, which could provide a motive for his conduct, making it more likely that the improper touching was intentional rather than accidental," the circuit court said.

Storey also said the poem never should have been read in court. Too late, the appeals court said, because it had ruled on that issue in a prior appeal.

Besides, it had already been published. Not here, but in Weber County.

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