Chances are if you were caught sneaking off to a baseball game instead of doing your job, you'd get in trouble. And if your job was a position of great public trust, in which you were literally holding a person's life in your hands, and you refused to return to work after you were contacted at the ballpark, you'd expect a stiffer reprimand than just a firm talking to, wouldn't you? If you answered Yes to that question, then you're not Riverside County Superior Court Judge Paul E. Zellerbach, perhaps the biggest fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County of California of the Pacific Time Zone, and almost certainly the Angels' most irresponsible fan (non-beer-induced-behavior division).
Judge Zellerbach was “publicly admonished” yesterday by the state Commission on Judicial Performance for, as the Los Angeles Times reports, “refusing to return from an Angels playoff game [the October 4, 2004 Angels-Red Sox game] to handle a verdict in a murder trial and turning down the attorneys' request to allow another judge to receive the jury's verdict.” Zellerbach almost got off with a lesser reprimand, as the Times notes: “Six members of the commission voted for public admonishment, and four voted for a private admonishment.” Would the penalty for ducking out on the verdict in a murder case have been harsher if it hadn't been a playoff game? One imagines Zellerbach pleading his case before the commission– “But they were playoff tickets!” he whines passionately– seeing compassion in the eyes of the four who voted for a private “Tut-tutting”, only to suffer the sting of a public pronouncement of “Naughty” at the hands of the stone-hearted six.
Still, I'm pretty sure that Judge Zellerbach will be able to bear the burden of his public admonishment. For one thing, as the Associated Press explains, the admonishment “carries no consequences.” And more importantly, the Angels won last night.