Some lawyers are criticizing a judge’s decision to close his misdemeanor courtroom for a day to protest the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judge John Lipscombe of Travis County, Texas, closed his court on Oct. 8 and draped black funeral bunting over the entry door, the Austin American-Statesman reports. The television station KVUE had noted the shutdown in a tweet. Kavanaugh was confirmed on Oct. 6 after denying a sexual assault allegation.
As a result of Lipscombe’s decision, 135 out of 137 cases had to be rescheduled.
Defense lawyer Sidney Williams told the American-Statesman that Lipscombe sent him a text indicating he would be closing his court to honor “survivors.” Williams said he initially thought Lipscombe was promoting breast cancer awareness.
Williams, who was president of the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, posted a message about the court closing to an online mailing list. But not everyone got the message.
Defense lawyer Deniz Kadirhan told the American-Statesman that the mother of one of her clients took time off work to drive the client to the courthouse. “The judge is the king of his own court, but I think it would be best practice to give us more notice,” Kadirhan told the publication.
Other lawyers went further, questioning whether the move was too political or an indication of bad judgment.
Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County’s top elected official, told the newspaper that the protest was inappropriate. She said the decision cost $58,000—the cost of running a courtroom for a day.
County Court at Law 3 Judge, @JohnLipscombe, draped funeral bunting over his door and shut down his court today as a form of “silent protest.” He says he felt the need to something after Kavanaugh’s confirmation, calling it a big step backwards for the country. @kvue pic.twitter.com/96OnrtxsHI
— Jenni Lee (@JenniL_KVUE) October 8, 2018