In the spring, real inroads were made for quipping Judges everywhere, when one Harry Stone-wannabe poked giant holes in a suspects defense with the sheer force of his jokes. But now a newly-banned upstate Judge may have set back quipping Judges centuries, thanks to an embarassing series of encounters with one young woman with a turtle-emblazoned shirt.
Saratoga County Family Court Judge Gilbert Abramson is accused of denying at least six people hearings or lawyers, "forgetting" to read them their rights, and sending them to jail for 21 to 268 days. Abramson resigned in late October after he lost a Republican primary, and when disciplinary charges were first being explored; he was banned from the bench yesterday. But while Abramson's lawyer defended his due process gaffes as "mistakes," and not violations of constitutional rights, he had a harder time explaining Abramson's 2008 Family Court encounter with a female defendant who had a turtle on her t-shirt that Abramson thought looked more like a penis with a face.
"It's very phallic, and it's a penis with a smile on it...That's a turtle on Viagra. It's erect, it's smiling. And you never see a sad Mrs. Turtle, because they're fully satisfied," Abramson told the woman, in court for using her child as a lookout while shoplifting, from the bench. The shirt depicted an illustrated turtle with the caption, "Cranky but adorable so I'm worth it." "You can't look at your shirt without feeling aroused," he told her. He just couldn't control the jokes! Abramson was brought before a conduct board for the remarks, and said he vowed to be more careful next time he saw the defendant.
The woman returned to his court a few months later, wearing the same turtle t-shirt. And Abramson was struck with amnesia: "Another great shirt. All of (her) shirts are phallic. Look at the turtle. It's a pornographic turtle," he said. He later defended his second outburst as a way to lighten the mood in the court, and added that the defendant "was welcoming of the attention, and I thought that was appropriate."