Talk to just about any judge who has served on the bench and most of them will readily admit they've handed down rulings from time to time that made them want to take a very long shower afterward.
But being a judge isn't a popularity contest. Nor is a judge something akin to a game show host, like the bloviating, foaming-at-the-mouth, make-believe anchorman Bill O'Reilly, of FOP News.
O'Reilly, who has made a career of being more clueless than Hulk Hogan roaming the aisles of Brooks Brothers, got his hoop skirt in a wad over a decision by Hillsborough Senior Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett to allow Richard Martin Chotiner, who was convicted of lewd and lascivious battery on a 23-year-old mentally challenged man, to remain free on $50,000 bail pending the outcome of an appeal.
Did this make people thrilled at the prospect of a convicted sex offender being allowed to remain on the street? Hardly.
But Padgett didn't release Chotiner because, well, he was feeling frisky that day and thought it would be a hoot to permit Chotiner his freedom for the moment, because after all, the judge has a soft spot for criminal defendants, especially those convicted of sexual offenses.
Rather, as a matter of that irritating, nagging, annoying thing called the law, Padgett had a legal responsibility to release Chotiner as long as he didn't pose a flight risk. As well, that mother of all party-poopers the United States Constitution, under the Eighth Amendment, stipulates that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted."
Perhaps there's a copy of it laying around O'Reilly's employer Rupert Murdoch's Wolf's Lair. Look under the cocktail coasters.
Unpalatable though it may be, Padgett performed his legal duty. And for that he incurred the wrath of Fiddlesticks News' Joe McCarthy-lite.
Ted Baxter 2.0 dispatched one of his Glare and Imbalanced goons to stalk Padgett after the judge declined to appear on the Morton Downey Jr. wannabe's nightly Torquemada mosh pit.
Was Padgett likely intimidated at the prospect of squaring off with the Moe Howard of the Heritage Foundation? Please. Regardless of what you may think of his ruling in the Chotiner case, Rogers Padgett is one of the state's more respected, erudite and thoughtful jurists.
This would have been like Carrot Top trying to debate economics with John Kenneth Galbraith. More to the point, Padgett took a pass on appearing with Rush Limbaugh's cabana boy because he is prevented — and here's that vexing law stuff again — by statute from discussing pending cases before him.
Apparently neither O'Reilly, nor his Mike Wallace pretender apparatchik understood that. And thus Padgett found himself accosted by the anchor's Feeble News gofer in a parking lot demanding the judge explain his ruling.
Padgett pointed out to O'Reilly's factotum his ruling was readily available in the court transcripts.
With all the intellectual honesty of a Nuremberg defendant, O'Reilly and his yes-man suggested Padgett should be "railroaded" out of town.
So it wasn't bad enough this silly man had had his minion stalk a sitting judge. Now these two yahoos were planting the seeds to do him harm on a national television show — simply because Padgett (and go ahead Bill, move your lips if it will help you understand this) fulfilled his legal obligations.
This is an old and common tactic by the poster child of the far-fright. Merely because someone has the good sense not to show up on O'Reilly's nightly eating of the young, they open themselves up to have Lurch dispatched to their doorstep to atone for their commendable judgment.
Interestingly enough, while Bill O'Reilly was getting more lathered up than Old Yeller over Padgett's reluctance to answer questions about his ruling, the Fluster News anchor has hardly been forthcoming in releasing details of his own 2004 sealed out-of-court settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him by a former employee Andrea Mackris.
The allegations included some pretty salacious stuff, including a claim by Mackris that in a woozy late-night phone call O'Reilly, who loves to promote himself as a family man, told her he wanted to do the "falafel" thing with her.
Hmmm, wanting to commit a sex act with a Middle Eastern concoction of fried chickpeas? How kinky, in a Jacques Pepin kind of way.
O'Reilly wants public accountability from everyone but himself and he was willing to drag a decent man who did his job through the video mud for the sake of a few cheap shots.
Just another dark day at Schlock News.