Boxing Judge Judith C. Chirlin!
Industry-insiders may recall that Kim Basinger agreed to appear in the feature - "Boxing Helena" - by virtue of a "memo", and later, subsequently found herself hauled into court by the producers for damages when she bowed out of the project.
Unfortunately for the Hollywood beauty, her case was referred to a disreputable female jurist, Judge Judith C. Chirlin.
From the get-go, rumors abounded once Chirlin's courtroom shenanigans commenced.
Some whispered that the gruff Judge was a lesbo with the hots for Basinger.
To others, the horsey woman with the overblown sense of self-importance, was - quite simply - jealous of the starlet, her stunning looks, and the rich trappings that were part 'n parcel of her fame.
But the showdown really came to fore when Judge Chirlin manipulated the proceedings in a deceitful effort to grab the brass ring for herself.
In fact, after ruling in favor of the producers on the breach of contract suit, Chirlin had the audacity to attend the premiere of "Boxing Helena" which - to some - appeared to rub salt in the wound.
The Commission on Judicial Performance was inclined to issue a much harsher rebuke.
After reviewing the facts, the Commission publicly admonished Judge Chirlin for improper conduct within the meaning of Article VI, Section 18 (d) of the California Constitution based on the following facts:
"In 1993, a jury trial in the case of Main Line Pictures, Inc. v. Kim Basinger et al, was conducted before Judge Chirlin.
The case involved an action for breach of contract based on defendant Basinger's alleged withdrawal from Main Line's movie "Boxing Helena" which was completed and released with a different female lead.
The case attracted significant media attention due to the subject matter and the celebrity of the defendant.
There was a verdict for plaintiff Main Line Pictures, Inc. on March 23, 1993.
A notice of appeal was filed by defendants Kim Basinger, et al. on July 16, 1993.
In August 1993, Judge Chirlin attended the world premiere of "Boxing Helena" at the invitation of the movie's producer, the plaintiff in Main Line Pictures, Inc. v. Kim Basinger, et al.
The premiere consisted of the showing of the movie followed by a reception at a local Los Angeles restaurant.
Judge Chirlin's attendance at the event was noted in the media.
Judge Chirlin's attendance at the premiere was improper in that it contributed to an appearance of bias.
Due to Judge Chirlin's role in the trial of the lawsuit, the judge was seen as joining in the plaintiff's celebration of the movie's release and the plaintiff's celebration of its legal victory.
An appearance of bias or partiality erodes public confidence in and respect for the judiciary.
Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge's activities; Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct requires that judges perform judicial duties without bias; Canon 4 requires that a judge's conduct (even extrajudicial activities) do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge's capacity to act impartially as a judge.
On January 2, 1994, while the appeal of judgment in Main Line Pictures Inc. v. Kim Basinger, et al. was still pending, an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine about the case.
Judge Chirlin was interviewed for the article and asked about allegations that her rulings during the trial exhibited bias against defendant Basinger.
Judge Chirlin was quoted as saying:
"The fact of the matter is that throughout the trial, a significant portion of my rulings were in favor of Kim."
The commission found that Judge Chirlin's comments to the reporter about the Main Line Pictures. Inc. v. Kim Basinger, et al. case were in conflict with the provisions of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which states in part:
"A judge should not make any public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court."
At the time of the remarks, an appeal of the judgment was pending.
The requirement that judges refrain from commenting about cases continues during any appellate process until final disposition."
In arriving at their finding, the commission noted that the judge recognized and acknowledged the impropriety of her attendance at the premiere and of her public comments regarding the case.
But, Chirlin proceeded to thumb her nose at the Commission - and in a handful of cases that followed - abused her power, manipulated court documents, and on one occasion made inappropriate direct communication with Justice Klein in the 2nd Appellate Court (Division 3) which adversely (and unlawfully) affected the Appellant's right to a fair hearing on the appeal.
For example, in a case involving a dispute over damages in a civil suit, the defendant's attorney submitted a "Motion" to the court asking that the plaintiff be declared a "vexatious litigant".
In support of the arguments set forth in the moving papers, the dishonest attorney not only misrepresented the facts - but also misinterpreted the Civil Code - in an underhanded attempt to prevail at the hearing.
Notwithstanding the fact the Plaintiff was not served with any notice of the hearing (and subsequently did not appear in court), Judge Chirlin proceeded to grant the motion in spite of the fact the Plaintiff did not meet the stringent requirements of applicable California Code.
Was Chirlin ignorant about the specifics of the Statute and binding case law?
The fact that she didn't bother to research the issue not only established her incompetence, but her willingness to put the integrity of the court at risk.
Or, was there something more sinister underfoot?
Did Chirlin have associations with the defendants (a thriving business entity) that prompted her to "swing" the ruling in their favor?
In view of what transpired thereafter, it doesn't appear to be a far-fetched notion.
For example, after the ruling of the court was served on the plaintiff, he proceeded to lodge an appeal with the 2nd Appellate Court, which was promptly assigned to Division 3.
Pursuant to Rules of Court, the Appellant served a "Notice of Appeal" on Chirlin.
Shortly thereafter, Judge Chirlin contacted Justice Klein in the Appellate Court, and whispered in the Jurist's ear that the Appellant was a vexatious litigant.
It is important to note that Chirlin neglected to inform Justice Klein that the issue on appeal pertained to the Appellant's alleged "vexatious litigant" status declared by the lower court.
Subsequently, Klein assumed that because the Appellant was "allegedly" a known vexatious litigant in the environs of the court, that the appeal must be frivolous.
Henceforth, Klein dismissed the appeal without a proper review, and in direct violation of the Appellant's right to an appeal on the issue.
If a plaintiff is declared a vexatious litigant - and the allegations do not meet the stringent requirements of the Statute - he or she has every right pursuant to California law to lodge an appeal on the issue to determine if there was error in the lower court proceedings.
In sum, Judge Judith C. Chirlin willfully and wrongfully interfered with the Appellate process, misrepresented the facts to a Justice of the Appellate Court - and ultimately - abused her power.
All to the damage of the Plaintiff/Appellant.
In another incident at the courthouse, a man delivering paperwork to her courtroom at the downtown Los Angeles Superior Court facility, was detained, searched, and held against his will - without explanation - due to Judge Chirlin's skewered view of her Judicial reach.
The unsuspecting fellow innocently entered Chirlin's courtroom one fine morning with the specific aim of hand-delivering moving papers (and the documents in support) to the Jurist's clerk to meet a filing deadline.
Inside, Judge Chirlin was engaged in a discussion with an attorney.
So - as quickly and quietly as possible - the gentleman turned over the paperwork to the court clerk, turned on his heel, and exited.
About five minutes later, when he stepped off an escalator, two Sheriffs strode up and demanded that he halt.
In response to instructions on a walkie-talkie, the guards proceeded to frisk the startled citizen, search through his pockets at whim, and snatch up his wallet.
No explanation was forthcoming when the man expressed his outrage at what appeared to be an illegal search and seizure in direct violation of his rights.
Just as quickly as the ugly scene unfolded, it ended, when the guards permitted him to go on his way.
The shaken man later determined that Judge Chirlin ordered the demeaning detainment because she was put-off by the fact noise filtered into the courtroom during the proceeding when he innocently entered and exited.
In retrospect, it's obvious that Judge Chirlin not only has a vindictive streak - but without warning - is capable of striking out and abusing her power.
In spite of the fact Chirlin was in the middle of a hearing, and the man was hardly out the door, within minutes she articulated her rage by issuing an directive that the intruder be hunted down, detained, and humiliated with a body search.
And, to heck with her court proceeding, eh?
Chirlin has also been known to bully and belittle lawyers who appear before her, too.
Undoubtedly, the lady (and I use the term loosely) suffers from an inferiority complex.
A search on the Internet will also rustle up a handful of curious posts about Judge Chirlin, worthy of taking a gander at.
Glowing tributes appear to have been posted by friends and business associates (or, just maybe, by Chirlin herself) in a sly effort to rehabilitate her image.
I laughed out loud when I came across one news clip which reported that Chirlin narrowly missed a bomb blast when she was in war-torn Baghdad.
I just betcha she was the intended target!
After all, over the years Judge Chirlin has racked up quite a few enemies in the Judicial system, back-stabbing legal circles, and among the social-climbing set beyond those realms.
In the final analysis, Judge Judith C. Chirlin is a disgrace to the Judiciary, an inept Judge wallowing in a sesspool of corruption down at the courthouse.
Until the dragon lady is ousted from the bench, the integrity of the court will constantly be at risk.
Karl Kraus once opined:
"Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country."