Judges might be appalled to know how much parties theorize that the judge ruled against them because “the other side got to the judge” or “the fix was in.” It doesn’t happen all the time. But it’s not particularly unusual either.

People don’t like to contemplate that their side was wrong on an issue or the case as a whole. So naturally, the judge comes under suspicion with folks who don’t trust the judicial system. The best way to handle this is to shoot it down. Immediately and emphatically:

Lawyer: We lost.

Client: They got to the judge.

Lawyer: No one got to the judge. The judge just ruled for the other side.

Client: So the fix is in, right?

Lawyer: The fix is most definitely not in.

Client: How many times have you seen this?

Lawyer: Every time I’ve lost.

Unfortunately, there have been a few occasions (not my cases) where the fix was in. Like in the recent case of this Arkansas judge with a Mississippi connection.

From the ABA Journal:

A former Arkansas judge waived indictment and pleaded guilty Friday to a federal criminal information (PDF) charging him with accepting a bribe for reducing a nursing home negligence verdict from $5.2 million to $1 million.

Michael A. Maggio, 53, admitted being “improperly influenced” in the nursing home case by campaign contributions in 2013 for his planned run for an appellate court seat, according to Arkansas Business, the Log Cabin Democrat and the Times Record.

The plea agreement identifies a lot of phone calls and text messages between the briber and the bribee. The briber is not identified. But it probably wouldn’t be that hard to figure out.

My Take:

I thought all improper communications with judges were supposed to take place at Shoney’s?

Seriously, things like this are rare. But still, here’s more evidence for an appointed appellate judiciary.