The Due Process Clause of the Constitution safeguards the right to impartial judges

and requires recusal of judges who are or who appear to be biased.
                                                                    -- Hon. Michael L. Bender, Colorado Supreme Court justice1

     If the judge in your case would lose his home if he ruled in your favor, you probably wouldn't expect to get a fair hearing in his court.  Well, that is precisely what happened to me in Smith v. Mullarkey, No. 05-SA238 (Colo. Oct. 17, 2005) (per curiam) -- arguably, the most brazen act of arrogance ever seen in an American court.  In that case, justices of the Colorado Supreme Court purported to decide a lawsuit in which they were defendants in their individual capacity.
 
     "No man can be judge in his own cause."2  This foundational principle of law was acknowledged in the Federalist Papers,3 and in the English common law two centuries before that.4  As the Colorado Supreme Court explains:
[t]he first ideal in the administration of justice is that the judge must be free from bias and partiality.  Men are so agreed on this principle that any departure therefrom shocks their sense of justice. … We are equally certain that when … a judge is prejudiced or otherwise incompetent to hear or try a cause, but nevertheless, proceeds in that regard, the issues are not likely to be determined and the rights of the parties properly protected and enforced in a court over which he presides.5   
     As Colorado law expressly provides that judges of the Court of Appeals can sit on the Supreme Court in their stead,6 there is no conceivable reason why a Colorado judge should ever hear a case in which he is a defendant.   But this tale is about the arrogance of power -- and the pervasive belief among American judges that they are somehow better than you, and that laws are made for lesser men.

     In theory, judges can be removed from office and even criminally prosecuted for criminal acts committed on the bench.  But in the real world, prosecutions are exceptionally rare -- mostly, because prosecutors and disciplinary agencies are loath to do the jobs they are sworn to do.  As evidence, I offer the following:

         Letters to Attorney General John Suthers
                  October 24, 2005 (reformatted in html)
                  March 9, 2006 (hand-delivered to an aide)

          Complaint to Denver District Attorney
                  Original letter to DA Mitchell Morrissey
                  Draft complaint listing judicially noticeable facts
                  Correspondence with ADA Pat Wegner
                  Second letter to DA Morrissey

          Colorado Commission on Judicial Performance
                  Original Complaint
                  Follow-up letter to Commission chair Mike Norton
                  Chairman Norton's response (he actually blocked my address with a spam filter)
                  Reply to Chairman Norton

           Other correspondence to and from the Commission's Executive Director
                  Sean Harrington to Rick Wehmhoefer, Mar. 31, 2006 (asking RW why his agency didn't have authority to do
                      what it specifically said it had done in its annual report, as published in the Colorado Lawyer)
                  Rick Wehmhoefer's response to Sean Harrington, Apr. 12, 2006 (assiduously avoiding his question)
                  Sean Harrington to Rick Wehmhoefer, July 3, 2006 (reiterating his point with regard to delayed judicial rulings)
                  Rick Wehmhoefer's response to Sean Harrington, Jul. 12, 2006 (again, not doing his job)
                  Sean Harrington to Rick Wehmhoefer, Jan. 4, 2007 (asking RW why he still hadn't done anything)

(other documents may be added as space is made available)
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1.
People v. Julien, 47 P.3d 1194, 1202 (Colo. 2002) (Bender, J., dissenting; citations omitted).

2. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Ch. 23, reprinted at, e.g., http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/h/hobbes/thomas/h68l/chapter23.html.
3.
Federalist 80 (Alexander Hamilton), reprinted at, e.g., http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=763.

4. Earl of Derby's Case (1614), 12 Co.Rep. 114, 77 E.R. 1390.
5. People ex rel. Burke v. District Court, 60 Colo. 1, 4, 152 P. 149 (1915).
6. Judges of the court of appeals "may serve in any state court with full authority as provided by law, when called upon to do so by the chief justice of the supreme court."  C.R.S. § 13-4-101.