The problem: At a lake home I recently visited, I was told that the guy across the lake is a county judge. When he or his kids parties, nobody calls the sheriff because everyone is afraid of him and his connections. I’ve heard several stories of his family’s Jet Skis running close to the shore where swimmers are, as well as them using other people’s stuff, burning garbage without permits and just being obnoxious. This doesn’t seem right, but who do you call?
Low road: Drop off several overflowing bags of your own garbage at his lake manse, with a “Thanks for taking care of this!” note attached.
High road: Pity there isn’t a law against being obnoxious. Our roads, and lakes, would be far less congested.
If these examples are true — and you do need to confirm any accusation before taking action — you’re witnessing a bully judge who has lost sight of his profession’s code of conduct. That code demands that he avoid “all impropriety and appearance of impropriety,” in both his professional and personal life. In other words, he must not act above the law whether he’s wearing his robe or his swimsuit.
You’d do him a favor to step in, as intimidating as that sounds. How kind do you think people will be if one of his family members skis into a child swimming near the shore and injures him, or worse? What if his burning garbage gets out of hand and starts an uncontrolled fire?
Focus on one issue, instead of the laundry list. Call the sheriff’s office, identify yourself as a “concerned citizen” and explain what you saw, when you saw it and why you are worried. If nothing changes, consider filing a report with the state’s Board on Judicial Standards. Feel good knowing that you are doing the right thing by letting this man know he misjudged his power.
Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad.