15 Oct 2005
The Dumbest Judge Ever
Is District Court Judge Richard A. Palumbo the dumbest judge ever, or is he just a major-league asshole? You decide. Here’s what happened:
Three weeks before Yvette Cade was doused with gasoline and set on fire, allegedly by her estranged husband, a Prince George’s County judge dismissed the protective order Cade had against him, despite her objections that he was violent.
During a Sept. 19 hearing, she told District Court Judge Richard A. Palumbo that her husband was intimidating and had been violating the protective order, according to an audio recording of the proceeding.
She said she had pictures of some property he had vandalized. “I want you to look at these pictures because I don’t want him to continue,” she said.
Palumbo suddenly interrupted her, saying, “Uh, this case is dismissed.”
Her estranged husband had asked the judge to lift a restraining order so that the couple could go to marriage counseling; she wanted a divorce and warned the judge that her husband was violent. He told her where to get off, basically:
At the Sept. 19 hearing, which lasted about 10 minutes, Cade, 31, told the judge she wanted “an immediate and absolute divorce,” according to the recording.
“I’d like to be six-foot-five,” Palumbo responded. “But that’s not what we do here. You have to go to divorce court for that.”
Note: she didn’t want the judge to grant her a divorce then and there, she was telling him she didn’t want to go to marriage counseling (the putative reason why her husband wanted the protective order lifted), and in fact didn’t even want to be married to the guy. The judge went ahead and lifted the order, telling her, “[Marriage counseling] might not be a bad idea if you want to save the marriage.” Guess what happened next, readers?
On Monday morning, Hargrave walked into the crowded T-Mobile store in Clinton where Cade was at work, threw gasoline on her and set her on fire with a match, police said. Half her upper body, including her entire face, suffered third-degree burns, the most serious level. A customer in the store extinguished the fire with a towel.
Way to go, Judge Asshole! Way to go!
(UPDATE, 2008/07/02) — Even after two and a half years, this post is still getting comments. If you’re interested, please note that there was a follow-up to this post: Judge Palumbo, sadly, attempted to explain that it was all a “clerical error.”