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Philly Judge Dishonors Murdered Officer

By Wyatt Earp | February 17, 2009

<i>The 35th Police District Headquarters.</i>

The 35th Police District Headquarters.

The next time you hear someone say that Philadelphia’s judicial system cares about Philadelphia police officers, show them this post. I was there for this, and I don’t ever remember being so angry at work than I was today.

PHILADELPHIA – An altercation was reported Tuesday between members of the Philadelphia Police Department’s 35th District, which lost an officer in the line of duty last week, and a judge holding hearings inside the district’s headquarters.

Police sources tell Fox 29 News that Municipal Court Judge Craig M. Washington had been using a police roll call room at the headquarters for hearings and asked police to remove a memorial to fallen Officer John Pawlowski.

Ridiculous, since the police officers and detectives in my division have bent over backwards for this judge on several different occasions. We showed him plenty of professional courtesy; a courtesy he obviously chose not to return.

When officers refused, the judge went to the district captain and a police inspector.

When the higher-ups wouldn’t comply, they say Washington returned to the area and took down a memorial picture of the officer, saying that it was inappropriate for his courtroom.

The captain of the 35th District refused Washington’s inane request, and rightly so, since it has only been four days since Officer Pawlowski was gunned down!

A Fox 29 News phone call to Washington seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Because he’s a frakkin’ coward.

The Fraternal Order of Police, on the other hand, put out a statement Tuesday afternoon that calls the judge’s request “a ridiculous demand” and says he “brazenly” overturned two of the officer’s pictures.

The police union is asking the president judge to remove Washington from the hearing list pending a full investigation, take appropriate disciplinary action for “what amounts to vandalism of a police facility,” and suspend all hearings at the Broad and Champlost facility.

In my opinion, there is no way that Washington should be allowed to convene court hearings in the 35th District ever again. To say that we are none too pleased with him is the understatement of the century.

“It’s bad enough that Police Officers are being murdered by violent repeat offenders released by the judiciary. We now have to face a direct threat from the bench,” the FOP statement reads. “There is not a police facility in the City that does not contain a Memorial to a slain officer. If that offends the ‘judge’ he should pack up and hold his hearings elsewhere. (H/TFOX29)

And, of course, Philadelphia’s president judge Marsha Neifield defended Washington’s actions because he preserved the “proper decorum” necessary for the courtroom.

With that kind of thinking, I certainly hope Neifield and her fellow judges do not need a favor from a police officer or a detective any time soon. They all should be ashamed of themselves.

UPDATE: For the record, here is the video from CBS3. They were there when this “judge” was arguing with members of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police.

Topics: The Job | 48 Comments »

48 Responses to “Philly Judge Dishonors Murdered Officer”

  1. RT Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    “It’s bad enough that Police Officers are being murdered by violent repeat offenders released by the judiciary. We now have to face a direct threat from the bench,”

    That about says it all.

    I’m very sorry that your bad week has been made worse by an idiot with no heart.

  2. kaveman Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    “Washington had been using a police roll call room at the headquarters for hearings”

    “he preserved the “proper decorum” necessary for the courtroom.”

    If a memorial is appropriate for a roll call room, it shouldn’t matter what a guest is currently using the room for.

    If Judge Washington wants to borrow real estate in the future, I suggest the bathroom.

  3. Pam Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Jerkoff. And if he needs the police in future, he will probably wonder why it takes them so long to arrive…

    Curious, though, why judges need to use space at a police station to hold their hearings?

  4. Snigs Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    If that offends the ‘judge’ he should pack up and hold his hearings elsewhere.

    I’ve got a better place for him to move and hearings aren’t involved.

  5. Wm T Sherman Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I also would like to know why a hearing was held in a police station instead of a court.

  6. DS Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    If photos aren’t allowed, how come there are so many Phillies and Eagles photos on so many of the walls in numerous courtrooms?

  7. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    RT – The bad week? Much worse now.

    Kaveman – Just so those not in Philly know, the excessive amount of court cases in this city makes it necessary for us to have preliminary hearings in police districts. They are actually held a few times a week in every divisional HQ. It’s been going on for a long time, but Washington is the only one who has had a problem with the photos of murdered police officers to my knowledge.

    And yes, I am still pissed, so if I do not measure my words, I apologize.

    Pam – See my above. It’s necessary because our Criminal Justice Center doesn’t have enough rooms for every single case.

    Snigs – Someplace really hot with fire and brimstone?

    Wm – The district roll call rooms double as court rooms a few days a week because of the sheer volume of cases. But, it is our house first, and judges should respect it.

    DS – My thoughts exactly!

  8. Moe Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Sorry that you and your co-workers were subjected to that.

  9. Formercorpsman Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I would suspect I don’t even have to tell you, but this is salt in the wound.

    Interesting stuff by Dave Schratwieser, and the jailhouse jihad behind the fallen officers.

  10. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Moe – Thanks. And for the record, I realize that people are pissed. Lord knows that I am. having said that, I will not allow comments that contain the use of the N-Word. I attribute it to anger, but if I allowed that kind of stuff, I become the racist cop that the thugs already think I am.

    Formercorpsman – I stayed up after 24 to watch that. Damned good report.

  11. RT Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    That video was infuriating.

  12. mary ward Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    These Judges are a disgrace in the city of Philadelphia. How dare they do this, they should be removed from the bench!!

  13. Sully Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Snigs, you nailed it!!! WTF was that asshat thinking!!

    He was looking for a fight for no good reason. Frikin coward to boot.

  14. USA_Admiral Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 7:00 pm


  15. Bitter American Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    I heard about it on Dom G’s show tonight. My hands were sore by the time I got home from gripping the steering wheel so tight! It’s getting sick to live in this town!

  16. Pam Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    I thought that might be the case, but just wanted clarification. Wyatt – material for you-know-what?

  17. Alan B Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I know we should show respect for a Judge but what a prat!!

    I would have hoped a Judge would have some sensitivity in a situation like this. Surely he could have found a compromise that showed the right level of respect to the police whose building he was using.

    Could he not, for example, have made a short formal acknowledgment of the what had happened to the officer, his family and the Force at the start of procedings with the picture in place. Maybe even stopped procedings for a short period of silence, then he could have respectfully asked for it to be moved to an honoured place in the “Courtroom”, but off the bench. It could then be replaced, equally formally and respectfully, at the end of the day.

    To have ignored the refusal he had just heard from the officer in charge and just turned the picture of the deceased officer on its face was bound to create a serious problem in an emotional environment.

    I am sure the cops have continued to do a thoroughly professional job in their relationship with the public. They expect to have to do that. But to be dishonoured by a Judge is beyond the pale and was bound to stir up emotions.

    Most things can be handled with respect and consideration on both sides. It was not up to the cops to initiate that – he should have taken charge of the situation with respect for the feelings of those for whom this is “home”.

  18. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    RT – Yeah, the officers downstairs were yelling so loudly that we heard them in our squad room. Rightly so.

    Mary – I’ll remind everyone when he is up for retention.

    Sully – “His Honor” showed he has none.

    Admiral – Unfortunately, in Philadelphia this is very believable.

    B.A. – You can say that again. Dang.

    Pam – Absolutely!!!

    Alan – My captain had a terrific point. If it was a “distraction,” why couldn’t the judge just have everything moved to the side? Don’t clear the courtroom of the items because he thought they were inappropriate.

  19. wagonsux Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Maybe you should explain some of the “Professional Courtesy” that’s been extended to the Judge(?). After today, I think it would be appropriate to post in a pubic forum.

    Rich Costello was the perfect person to send to argue our case to the Judge. He doesn’t get enough credit for what he does for us. We’re lucky to have him.

  20. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Wagonsux – Since you asked . . . A few weeks ago, the judge came to our window personally with a request. he asked that we handle a fraud case involving his daughter. Normally, this would sit on the back burner – after all, it’s a fraud and not a stabbing. Our squad gladly took the case as a courtesy to Judge Washington.

    He called many times for updates and we always accommodated him and gave him the respect owed the position. The case is still active.

    Today – a few minutes before this incident – he came upstairs to out squad room and asked to use our bathroom because the one on the first floor “was nasty.” Our custodians do a good job, so we usually have the best rest rooms in the building.

    We gladly let him in and showed him to the bathroom. Why? Because we felt it was necessary to respect the position.

    Apparently, Judge Washington thinks professional courtesy is a one-way street.

  21. Mrs. Crankipants Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Wow, that’s like having an anvil dropped on your head after being punched in the gut.

  22. Crankipants Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    When is this lowlife up for re-election?

  23. ajh1957 Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    The Judges behavior was uncalled for & should be punished for having disrespect for the fallen who died to
    protect this city.

  24. Vanman Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    If P/O Pawlowski’s picture was such a distraction now, why had this “judge” not complained about all the other pictures on the walls being distrctions? Kaveman was right. Maybe he should hold his hearings in the bathroom because his compassion is certainly in the toilet.

  25. Karen A Cook Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    How disrepectful of this Judge with a President’s name!He was in their “house” and disrepected them. Throw the BAST@#* off the bench!May he or his family NEVER need the assistance of the Phila. police department.I am sick to my stomach over this blatant irrereverance of one of PHILLY”S “Finest”taken down by a thug that probaly was let out by a Judge such as this.My thoughts and prayers go out to the Powalski family. Thank you for giving us your little angel for such a short time.
    With My Sincerest sympathy and Thanks
    Most sincerely,
    Karen Cook

  26. PhillipC Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    This person is a good example of the type of people that want control over other people, but shouldn’t have it. Funny how that type seems to be attracted to positions like Judge, Mayor, etc.

  27. dragonlady474 Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    I wonder how the judge would like it if a guest came over to his house and took down all of the pictures of his family because they were offensive?

  28. Jonathon Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    As a professional courtesy you chose to devote resources to his daughter’s fraud case when you wouldn’t prioritize such a crime for an ordinary citizen?

    That is not professional. Professional policing would be blind to the status of the victim. It’s a sad state of affairs when the police extend favors to the rich and powerful then ask the public to be outraged that the rich and powerful fail to reciprocate.

    You should be ashamed to publicly admit that in Philadelphia, the police fail to pursue justice impartially.

  29. MPG 1959 Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    This so called “Judge” is a disgrace to what is already a disgraced judicial system and deserves to be disbarred for being a total, disgraceful piece of garbage…..FIND ANOTHER LINE OF WORK WASHINGTON…….

  30. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Mrs. Crankipants – 100% correct.

    Crankipants – I don’t know, but I will find out.

    AJH – He should, but he won’t.

    Vanman – And our bathrooms are rather small, so the stench will be greater than normal.

    Karen – It’s bad here, but it will get worse – especially when Mayor Nutter lays off more police officers.

    PhillipC – Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    DL474 – Yep, and he would call us.

    Jonathon – Yeah, I probably should, but I’m not. Especially after getting a lecture from the likes of you. What color is the sky in your world, by the way? And while we’re at it, where did I say that we devoted resources to his daughter’s case that we wouldn’t devote to a regular citizen? We handle all fraud cases, you tool, and the fact that we handled his a little earlier than another makes us no less professional.

    To compare that courtesy with an expectation of common decency shown toward a police officer murdered protecting the citizens of Philadelphia is hardly unprofessional. We do not expect Judge Washington to rule cases in our favor. We do not expect Judge Washington to sing our praises. We do not expect Judge Washington to fix our parking tickets.

    We DO expect Judge Washington to show some Gad-damned respect to an officer – and the district in which he worked – when he is a guest in our house.

    Now please, take your idiocy and shove it up your ass. I’m not in the mood to tolerate your assholery anymore. Dick.

    MPG – He won’t – at least not until he is voted out.

  31. CB Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    I think everyone in attendance should wear t-shirts with Officer Pawlowski’s photo on them.

    Something has got to give. Too many of our finest have been sacrificed because of irresponsible sentencing. We need to take a stand. These animals should be treated like the scum of the earth they really are!

  32. Deanna Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Wonder how much it costs to rent a billboard to memorialize Officer Pawlowski and then put “Thanks to Judge X who lives at ________” and put his address. Then I think all officers should avoid his address for the next couple of days and see how he feels about it.

  33. Code Monkey Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Jonathan – Why no criticism for the judge? By showing up at the window personally, didn’t he pretty much ask for special treatment? Is that professional?

  34. Old NFO Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Unbelieveable, but after following your blog for a couple of years, I’m really NOT surprised by the total lack of respect from the judge. I’m afraid I would have bitch slapped that SOB half way across the courtroom though…

  35. doubleplusundead Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 12:07 am

    but after following your blog for a couple of years, I’m really NOT surprised by the total lack of respect from the judge.

    Even a few months of reading SYLG will leave you with that impression. I read this site, and sometimes it seems like the Philly PD is just alone in there, with no support from the community or the judges.

  36. Ky Person Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 4:21 am

    I’m chiming in late as usual, but all I can say is that I am shocked and grieved that anyone could be so petty as to object to a memorial to a fallen brother officer, especially one that’s been put up to honor a man so recently slain.

    All I can do is pray for Officer Palowski and his family and all you all in his district. And maybe for the judge, that he might develop a bit of kindness and empathy.
    In the meantime, I’ll just say that he is an insensitive jerk.

  37. The Girl You Don't Bring Home to Momma Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 8:56 am

    This Judge should be barred from the bench, hell he should be barred from the City. What a disgrace. I’m surprised no one beat the hell out of him when he put the picture face down. How disrepectful. This is the same type of Judge who lets these murdering bastards back out on the streets over and over again. I have many friends who are Philadelphia Police Officers and to show such horrid behavior toward our force is unacceptable.

    Your site is excellent !!!

  38. CBS 3 Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Just wanted to share the link to the print version of this story — as you noted at the bottom of the article — we were there and are doing a follow up on this today …

    It is such an awful time for the department … our hearts go out to the families of the fallen as well as all officers who are out there every day so the rest of us can stay safe …

  39. HoosierHoops Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I am sorry for John and his family. May God grant them peace and comfort in this terrible time.

  40. The Man Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Way to keep on this scumbag Wyatt!

  41. Doghouse Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 10:36 am

    So, based on this, if a judge died – say, gunned down in a courtroom – they wouldn’t put any acknowledgment that the judge ever existed (much less gave his life on the job) in their offices? Same thing.

  42. Mike47 Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Time for the Police Department to tell the judiciary, “Go find another place to hold your hearings. It is no longer the responsibility of the Police Department to provide hearing space for what is a judiciary function and responsibility. Your presence has become disruptive and predjudicial to good order within the Department and is no longer acceptable.”

  43. MPG 1959 Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    I agree with you Mike47, find another place to hold court and if not, NEVER, EVER let this lowlife, disrespectful, no good SOB, so called “Judge” step foot in the 35th District “House”again….NEVER!! He should be ashamed to be associated in ANY form with ANYTHING associated with the word “Law”……..But as the old saying goes, “What comes around, goes around”……. F@#K Him……..

  44. Karen A Cook Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    I hate to be the one to say this BUT, would he have done that if it was a black police officer??I think not. If you look at yesterdays Daily news you will see the pictures of our fallen officers. Notice anything here???They were All white. Lets be fair and post a picture of their killers next to theirs and tell me what you see.My hats off to Philly’s finest be they black, white, brown , red or yellow. Thank you ALL for protecting us and putting your lives on the line every day. My prayers are with you that you may go home safely every night.

  45. bob (either orr) Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Every one of these lowlifes should go up in neon lights.
    Yeah, Wyatt, I mean the judges who let these skels walk away time and time again.
    Skels are skels and will always be skels. But when judges are skels, as this one and a ton of others in your unfair city are, they deserve to be blasted to smithereens.

  46. J Ringo Says:
    February 19th, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    I don’t have a problem with the Judge’s actions, but he definitely could have been more sensitive about it.

  47. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 19th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    J Ringo – Wow, I am shocked. Truly shocked that you would agree with Judge Washington. And you write that the day of John’s viewing? You go away now.

  48. Rocket Dodger Says:
    March 10th, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    As a former UK police officer I say all credit to the officers present in the roll call room that day.

    Personally, I would have pepper sprayed the asshole.