The Memphis Flyer has learned that a special investigating committee of the Judicial Council of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, after meeting in closed session Wednesday with U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla has placed Judge McCalla on six-month administrative leave during which he will receive “behavioral counseling” for “improper and intemperate conduct” toward lawyers appearing before him. A statement concerning the finding was issued by Boyce F. Martin Jr., chief judge, US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and chairman of the 6th Circuit Judicial Council, who further said that Judge McCalla had acknowledge “the factual accuracy and validity of the complaints” and had apologized to the lawyers, the judiciary, and the bar. Judge Martin’s statement was as follows: Statement from the 6th Circuit Judicial Council Regarding Judge McCalla “The special investigating committee of the Judicial Council of the 6th Circuit met today in Memphis to conduct a hearing as a part of its investigation into complaints of judicial misconduct filed by several attorneys against U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla of the Western district of Tennessee. “Although the committee was prepared to receive testimony and other evidence and witnesses, Judge McCalla personally assured the committee that he acknowledges the factual accuracy and validity of the complaints of improper and intemperate conduct toward some lawyers who have appeared before him. In addition, Judge McCalla publicly apologized to the lawyers whom he has offended, as well as to the judiciary and the bar. “In light of Judge McCalla’s acceptance of the validity of the complaints and the wrongfulness of his conduct the committee found it unnecessary to conduct a hearing to determine the factual basis for the complaints. “Upon consideration the committee will recommend to the judicial council that Judge McCalla be placed on administrative leave for a period of no less than six months, during which time Judge Mccalla will continue to receive behavioral counseling. “Judge McCalla has accepted these recommendations and agreed to abide by them.” Boyce F. Martin Jr., chief judge, US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and chairman of the 6th Circuit Judicial Council. An earlier story, posted Wednesday on the Flyer website, follows:
In an extraordinary secret session closed to reporters and the public, a panel of federal appeals court judges met in a courtroom in Memphis Wednesday to consider whether U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla is fit to be a federal judge. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a court order closing the proceedings on the ninth floor of the federal building to public scrutiny. Reporters were turned away outside the elevators and told that they could not even be on the floor, much less inside the courtroom. Even in secret grand jury sessions, reporters are allowed outside the jury room and free to try to interview witnesses.Trials, whether they involve the president of the United States or paupers, are normally held in open court. The McCalla matter -- the vagueness is due to the federal courts’ refusal to disclose any information whatsoever about what is going on -- is not a trial as such but a special proceeding to look into complaints about the judge’s temperament. Neither the U.S. Marshall’s Office in Memphis nor the U.S. District Court Clerk’s office was able to provide a reporter with a copy of the Sixth Circuit Court order Wednesday. Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas E. Thompson referred questions to Sixth Circuit Executive James Higgins. But Higgins’ office in Cincinnati said he was unavailable until next Tuesday because he is in Memphis. McCalla has been presiding over a number of high-profile local cases including the Shelby County Jail case. The judge got himself in hot water in other trial hearings where he repeatedly scolded attorneys and questioned their professionalism. Now it is McCalla’s professionalism that is at issue. But the public isn’t getting so much as a peek. (Grunt work on this story performed by Chris Przybyszewski, Jackson Baker, and Kenneth Neill.)

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