Judge Escapes Discipline for Handing Out Acorns Stuffed with Condoms

This from a judicial friend who prefers anonymity: a disciplinary action against a judge who likes to hand out acorns. Sound odd? It gets odder. The acorns contained condoms and he handed them out to women he didn’t know. Here’s the story:

A Pennsylvania magistrate judge from Intercourse, Pennsylvania (that’s right, Intercourse) attended a continuing education course in nearby Harrisburg. While there, the judge approached two women, neither of them known to him, and presented them with some acorns. He encouraged them to try them and to return the following day to let him know how they liked them.

The women subsequently cracked open the nuts and discovered that the judge had hollowed them out, inserted condoms (foil removed), and resealed the acorns. The distressed women called the police.

The police cited the judge for disorderly conduct. When questioned at the station, the judge told police he intended his actions as a joke.

The criminal charges were dismissed, but the police lodged an ethics complaint. While the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline said the conduct was “not funny” and that the judge’s preoccupation with acorns was “mystifying,” the court—made up of one judge, two lawyers and three laypersons—found that the conduct did not violate the canons of ethics by bringing the judiciary into disrepute.

Part of the court’s reasoning was “we cannot ignore … the fact that condoms are regularly given out to children by our government.”

My friend was surprised the judge wasn’t disciplined, but I also find it strange that he was arrested. Unjudicial conduct to be sure, but a crime?

In re: Isaac H. Stoltzfus, Pa. Court Of Judicial Discipline, Case No. 4 JD 11, Aug. 17, 2010.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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