Above The Law’s David Lat weighed in on David Audlin’s statements from the Miami Herald earlier today, and he nailed it. Apparently, there isn’t much gray area, no matter how effective Audlin’s early spin may have been. A big thank you to ATL, since we now have the night off. Enjoy!
The following article by David Lat is found here at Above The Law, Copyright © 2014 Breaking Media, Inc. (Excerpts from Herald omitted):
In January, we brought you word of a Florida state-court judge who posted a sex ad on Manhunt. We covered the news, first broken by JAAblog, since we are fond of stories about sexy judges. But we did not judge. Instead, Staci Zaretsky wrote of Chief Judge David Audlin, “more power to him if [the photos are] real. Everyone needs to get some, even judges.”
Last week, Judge Audlin resigned from the bench, apparently because of L’Affaire Manhunt. With all due respect to the judge, this strikes me as a bad decision….
I’m not sure this is a true “invasion of privacy,” since Audlin had voluntarily injected himself into the public space that is Manhunt. Nobody hacked into his private email account to pull his photos; he maintained a public profile that was viewable by anyone on the site. But anyway….
Audlin did nothing illegal, and nobody was calling for his ouster — which is exactly why he shouldn’t have resigned. Even though he tells the Herald that he’s “not apologizing,” his actions speak louder than his words. He didn’t do anything wrong; why is he leaving the bench?
Instead of stepping down, Audlin should have told his critics to, in essence, suck his gavel. I’m inclined to agree with JAAblog’s view of Audlin as “a quitter who should have stood up and fought for what he believes in.”
His claim of being a privacy martyr is spurious. He posted a request for sex in a public place — to wit, the internet. Audlin’s reference to Manhunt as a “private” website is misleading. It might be privately owned, but profiles are available to anyone who signs up for the service — and pretty much anyone can (and does) sign up. As one JAAblog commenter said:
For a sitting judge not to understand that if you publicly (yes, Virginia, the Internets, as W would say, is/are a public place) advertise for random sex and then, when this public solicitation becomes known to members of the public whom you would like not to know, you claim that your “privacy has been wrongly invaded, then what you raise is serious, reasonable, valid concerns about whether you possess the legal analytical tools to even be on the bench.
In other words, Judge Audlin wasn’t wronged; he was just stupid. As Kashmir Hill noted when covering the Congressman Christopher Lee scandal, you should never include your face in your pics when trolling the web for sex. Here, Audlin should have a non-obvious screen name — instead of “DavidKW,” he could have tried “Gavelbanger” — accompanied by some photos of his body, “face pics available upon request.” That would have greatly reduced (although not eliminated) the likelihood of his being discovered. And it would have made his claim of privacy violation more legitimate, if his photos had been released by a single individual to whom he sent them via private message.
Audlin also seems to be trying to “play the gay card” here, claiming that he was mistreated on account of his sexual orientation.
Sorry, Your Honor, but this wasn’t a gay thing. We write all the time about judges’ sexual misadventures; click on some of the links in Staci’s original post about you for examples. If a sitting judge, gay or straight or bi, goes on the internet and announces his penis size, rest assured that Above the Law will be there.
You know how you should have responded to discovery of your Manhunt profile, Judge Audlin? You should have quoted the wise words of former judge Wade McCree, when he was accused of sending shirtless photos of himself to his bailiff: “Hot dog, yep that’s me. I’ve got no shame in my game.”
There was no shame in David Audlin’s game — until, well, Audlin acted like there was. If he really wanted to take a stand for the privacy rights of public officials, he should have returned to doing the people’s business, ignoring the critics, and staying in office until the bitter end.
Let’s hope that Audlin resigned not in a fit of pique but to pursue another opportunity — namely, so he could follow in the footsteps of many other Florida judges and become a television judge. As it turns out, Fox is looking for a current or former judge for a new reality show.
Please, Judge Audlin, respond to that casting call. Don’t make Fox go on a Manhunt to find you.
Let’s Get Sweaty! (1/15/14)
STATE OF DISUNION (1/23/14)
ATL: Judge’s Sex Ad Found On Internet Hookup Site (1/16/14)