“Are you Satisfied With the Assistance of Your Attorney”? That was the question Fort Lauderdale Judge Kathleen McHugh asked former NFL star Chad Johnson after telling him the terms of his plea deal for violating his probation which included no jail time. Johnson responded by saying “absolutely”, and giving his attorney an “atta boy” lightly slapping him on the behind.
Here’s the Video:
First of all, what kind of judge in their right mind asks a defendant “Are you satisfied with the assistance of your attorney?” What an immature, and inappropriate question for a judge to ask. Could you imagine if someone was just convicted of first degree murder, and then the judge asking the defendant if they were pissed at their attorney? (Imagine possible responses in a situation like that) As a judge, it’s something you just don’t do, and shouldn’t care about. Why does it matter to the judge if the defendant is satisfied with their attorney? C’mon Now.
Is there an appropriate way to respond to that question in a court of law? Chad Johnson did so by saying absolutely and congratulating his attorney. Others in the court room naturally laughed, McHugh got offended, and sentenced Johnson to 30 days in jai.
If McHugh was doing her job correctly, she would have read Chad Johnson his plea deal, used her gavel, and that would have been the end of it. Instead, she asked a very wise question putting him in a vulnerable position. I wonder what McHugh would have considered the right way to respond to such a question. Maybe a simple “yes” would have been enough, but still, she created a mood that should have never been created.
Everyone else in the court room besides Chad Johnson is really at fault. If they had composed themselves and not laughed, McHugh probably ends the case. In reality, it wasn’t Chad who got himself in trouble, it was everyone else for laughing.
Johnson isn’t completely off the hook here though. He could have at least worn a suit to court which would have shown he was taking the proceeding more seriously, which McHugh used against him. He also has to know that in a court of law, you have to treat the judge like a Ruler. You have to do exactly what they say, and can’t make any jokes or funny gestures. There’s a reason you address a judge by saying “Your Honor”.
What should happen in the next few days is McHugh should lose her ability to be a Judge, and Johnson should be released from Jail immediately. The plea deal should be brought back and accepted. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this will happen.