Pet hate

With all the recent problems about conflicts of interest, it’s strangely reassuring that the Americans are at it as well.

Newfane Town Court Justice Bruce Barnes, of Niagara County, has just been recommended for censure by the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct for failing to disclose the fact that he was the claimant in a case he was hearing in his judicial capacity.

Many a high-minded US judge has tut-tutted at not only Judge Barnes’s alleged misconduct, but also the impact it had on the life of a poor little pooch.

Back in 2001, Judge Barnes had complained to the relevant canine authorities that the dog, which belonged to one of his neighbours, was wreaking havoc in the neighbourhood. A claim, initiated by Judge Barnes, was brought against the mutt’s owner for allowing the beast to run amok and for not having a dog licence.

After the discovery that Judge Barnes was both judge and complainant, the case was reheard. As a result, as well as paying a $25 fine, the owner now has to also ensure the poor beast is kept under control.

Surely at the very least he should be able to roam freely around Judge Barnes’ garden as punishment for his failure to erect Chinese walls.