comScore

Rochester attorney William French not OK with Mark Dayton's 'female judges'

Linkedin

Linkedin

Maybe sometimes you wonder if women are good at judging things.

If so, you're probably just a sexist. Despite tales of Laura Ingraham being a racist, Sarah Huckabee Sanders being a liar-for-hire, and Melania marrying a manatee-shaped geriatric with a brain consisting entirely of expired dollar store cookie dough... some women can judge things.

Think Judge Judy or Judge Hatchett. Good at judging! Or think back to Paula Abdul's glorious run on American Idol, or Tyra Banks telling young women they're not doing enough "smizing" on America's Next Top Model.

See? Women: capable of good judgment!

That fact evidently runs contrary to the thinking of William French, a Rochester-area attorney who's currently on a two-month suspension for comments made in and out of court during his defense of a client facing a harassment restraining order. French's client, a man (imagine that!) was assigned to appear in front of Judge Karen Duncan, a former public defender appointed to the bench in 2013. 

As an attorney, Duncan had been an outspoken advocate for how overworked public defenders are, and once asked a judge to relieve her fellow attorneys from dozens of cases, arguing they simply did not have time to adequately represent those clients. A bold move, and it later landed Duncan in hot water, but may also have put her on the radar as a serious and considerate jurist.

On the October 2016 date when French and his client were to appear in Duncan's courtroom, the civil attorney confronted his opposing counsel and said he didn't approve of the judge handling the harassment case. He explained: "[Governor Mark] Dayton only appoints female judges."

This statement must've come as a shock to Supreme Court Justice David Lillehaug, a Dayton appointee who had in all previous accounts been represented as a member of the male gender. Lillehaug's signature is the one on the order suspending French from practicing law for a couple months; this little temper tantrum about lady judges is not his first brush with discipline.

In fact, French has been hit with discipline five different times in his nearly four decades practicing, most often for failing to adequately represent a client or keeping clear communication with them. Whether the accused harasser who hired him was aware of French's messy past is unclear.

What we do know is French's complaining also included his saying Judge Duncan "hates" him, and continued in the courtroom, where he told Duncan to her face: "I tried a case over here. You were very unfair. I had vowed when I left the courtroom I would never appear in front of you again."

And yet, there he was, claiming he hadn't known Duncan would be the judge in his case until that very day, despite court staff producing a hearing notice dated almost a month earlier indicating Duncan would take the case. If this oversight unnerved Duncan's alleged harasser client also isn't spelled out in the Supreme Court's decision.

"[T]he Court apparently has no knowledge of the Rules of Civil Procedure," French stated, in reference to Duncan, showing his ability to exaggerate extends to both all-judges-are-women and you-don't-know-anything. Quite an impressive skill set, if you ask us. 

If you'd like to retain the services of a petulant exaggerator like that, you'll have to find another, or wait until June, if not later: French's suspension as a lawyer extends "at least 60 days" beyond its effective date of April 22. So, technically, you could still call up William French today and ask if he could handle a one-day court appearance if it's on Monday, and not before a judge 1) French has a history with, or 2) was appointed by former Governor Mark Dayton, or 3) lacks a penis. 

Good luck with your case, fellas!