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Bob Dobbs’ Punch Out

Two weeks ago, just before we ran our story on villainous Orleans County troglodyte Judge James P. Punch, a WROC-TV report by Ty Chandler revealed Punch had skipped town for a bit. The judge has impeccable timing. If we were betting people—and our dire financial straits suggest we’re incorrigibly reckless prognosticators—we’d suggest he was evading blowback from the release of a full transcript of the now infamous custody hearing for 10 year-old Kohl Jary. Readers will recall His Honor distinguished himself in that proceeding with a tortured display of self-loathing projection: expressing disgust at photos of Kohl’s mother, Rachel Bevilacqua, provocatively and humorously attired, then retiring to his chambers with said photos in hand; and later squandering precious time snidely questioning Bevilacqua about those very same pictures, despite their blazing irrelevance. It’s doubtful that even James Punch can explain how this pointless, mean-spirited exercise—infinitely more offensive than any evidence proffered against Rachel—served the child’s interests.

Following the publication of our article, Rachel was courteous enough to furnish The BEAST with the full transcript, the completion of which she contends was suspiciously delayed by the court. How propitious for Judge Punch that its publication coincided with his recusal from the case and craven absconding. The complete record confirms Bevilacqua’s most startling accusations. In fact, after we’d read it for ourselves we agreed Punch’s conduct was much worse than she’d led us to believe.

Highlights include the testimony of Kohl’s father: Rachel’s ex-boyfriend, Jeff Jary. Jary proved to be a hostile witness of tragicomic ineptitude, asserting the Church of the SubGenius’ true motives are "hidden under layers and layers of BS" which obscure its "recurring Satan theme." Coming from a smarter man, this might reasonably be deemed a clever exploitation of "Satanic panic." Jary, however, overeager and totally artless, punctuates his absurd melodrama by claiming SubGenii "have orgies [with] children present." What’s frustrating, wading through his bullshit, is no one asked him to square his insistence that the Church’s meetings are sinister gatherings—"not a joke," he averred—with his admission that everything he knew about them came from skimming books and surfing the web. With standards like those, we shudder to think what that makes us experts on.

It’s unfair to expect Judge Punch would catch such a glaring inconsistency—his probing, sweaty-palmed focus was almost certainly on the photos, which were now being entered into evidence. Not to be outdone in his own courtroom, Punch called SubGenius humor "a transparent subterfuge" masking "a little sex club." The scariest implication of their common hysteria is that Jary could one day unseat Punch as a jurist.

Maybe Punch is deluded or maybe he’s just used to masking his prejudices. Confronted with a lying toad like Jeff Jary, Punch retains his unflappable judicial bearing. Passing scathing judgment on Rachel Bevilacqua, an equable witness by contrast, the judge tosses assertive words like "clearly" and "obviously" around pretty casually—even as he’s declaiming about things that have no basis in reality. His closing statement reads like Manson-meets-Falwell.

He refers to Rachel’s spouse, Steve, as "her apparent husband," says that Rachel was "clearly prevaricating" and "severely mentally ill," and observes that “it’s pretty obvious she does not believe what she’s telling us.” “If she wants to go and have some bizarre sex with some obvious anti-religious cult,” he says, “that’s her right.” Like all repressed freaks, he’s a volatile mix of sporadic tameness and frothing brute: "But when she posts those pictures on the Web and the kids at school or somewhere else it leaks out that your mother’s, excuse me, ma’am, but a pervert and you can see her on the Web naked doing her perverted acts, that is extremely damaging to the child."

Punch is such a prodigious scoundrel he manages in the space of a few seconds to, in our amateur estimation, violate multiple sections of the New York State Bar Association’s Code of Judicial Conduct. Some choice selections:

"An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining and enforcing high standards of conduct, and shall personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary will be preserved."

"A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."

"The test for appearance of impropriety is whether [a judge’s] conduct would create in reasonable minds a perception that the judge’s ability to carry out judicial responsibilities with integrity, impartiality and competence is impaired.”

"A judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers, and of staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.”

"A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice against or in favor of any person. A judge in the performance of judicial duties shall not, by words or conduct, manifest bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias or prejudice based upon age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, marital status or socioeconomic status…"

"A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where:

"(a) (i) the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party…"

"A judge must perform judicial duties impartially and fairly. A judge who manifests bias on any basis in a proceeding impairs the fairness of the proceeding and brings the judiciary into disrepute. Facial expression and body language, in addition to oral communication, can give to parties or lawyers in the proceeding, jurors, the media and others an appearance of judicial bias. A judge must be alert to avoid behavior that may be perceived as prejudicial."

Contrast this with the fact that Judge Punch stopped Jary’s lawyer more than once during the case to reassure him that he needn’t go on, because he had already decided the hearing’s outcome.

Rachel Bevilacqua declined to answer whether she was pursuing a disciplinary complaint against Punch. Proceedings of New York’s Commission on Judicial Conduct are confidential. Their website states that "A matter becomes public only if the Commission has determined that the judge should be admonished, censured, removed or retired, or if the judge under formal charges has waived confidentiality." Here’s hoping James P. Punch gets what he deserves: to be judged by an insensate boor like himself. --PJ



Idiot Box by Matt Bors
Big Fat Whale by Brian McFadden
Perry Bible Fellowship by Nicholas Gurewitch
Bob the Angry Flower by Stephen Notely
Deep Fried by Jason Yungbluth

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