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What’s that spell? Judicial misconduct!

A Washington state panel disciplined a Tacoma judge who ordered courtroom cheers for the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks before issuing a manslaughter sentence.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A state panel disciplined a Tacoma judge who ordered courtroom cheers for the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks before issuing a manslaughter sentence.

The state Commission on Judicial Conduct gave the judge an admonishment, the panel's lowest-ranking punishment, in a ruling released Friday.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Beverly Grant's discipline stems from a Feb. 3 hearing in which she sentenced Steve Keo Teang to 13 1/2 years for manslaughter in the 2005 shooting death of Tino Patricelli, 28.

Before the proceedings, Grant asked about 100 people in court to say "Go Seahawks" before taking their seats. Dissatisfied with the low volume of the response, she repeated the request.

The Seahawks played in the Super Bowl that weekend. Patricelli's stepmother said she was offended in part because the game fell on the anniversary of her stepson's death.

Grant, who was appointed to the bench in 2003, apologized the following Monday. She eventually filed the formal conduct complaint against herself.

"Although my intentions were to defuse the courtroom situation, I realize now the inappropriateness of my opening comments," Grant told the commission.

Grant agreed to review the state's Code of Judicial Conduct and to not repeat her behavior in the future.

"The behavior in the Grant case was well-intentioned, but a misstep," conduct commission director Reiko Callner told The News Tribune of Tacoma. "The conduct did not materially affect her ruling as a judge in the case."