Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Philadelphia Judge Controversy: Cover-up of Bedroom Connection


The controversial acquittal of a Philadelphia policeman caught on video violently punching a woman at a Puerto Rican Day parade last fall quickly produced a second stink bomb.

The Philadelphia judge who freed fired Lt. Jonathan Josey during a non-jury trial where that jurist brushed aside compelling evidence recorded on that video is married to a Philadelphia policeman.

The wife of Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Patrick F. Dugan was among the 100-plus police officers who jammed Dugan’s courtroom during Josey’s one-day trial in mid-February.

Judge Dugan neither revealed his marital relationship nor removed himself from the case – formally known as recusal.

Dugan presiding at Josey’s trial seemingly flaunted provisions of Pennsylvania’s Code of Judicial Conduct, particularly provisions prohibiting the “appearance of impropriety” by judges and judges not allowing “family to influence” their judicial judgment.

Dugan issued his acquittal verdict two weeks after Josey’s trial. When ruling, Dugan said he was troubled by Josey’s conduct captured on a cell phone video but he was impressed by the testimony from other police officers plus character witnesses for Josey who supported his claims of innocence.

Judge Dugan’s ruling favoring Josey, and his unwillingness to consider the video evidence contradicting Josey’s courtroom accounts, continues an infamous judicial tradition across America of jurists bending both law and logic to excuse police misconduct, giving breaks to cops generally withheld from civilians facing comparable criminal charges.

Last September, weeks before the assault producing Josey’s arrest, Arizona Judge Jacqueline Hatch sparked outrage when sentencing a policeman to probation after a jury had convicted that officer of sexually groping a woman in a bar while off-duty and drunk. When refusing to impose the possible two-year prison sentence, Judge Hatch bashed the victim for being in a bar.

Months before Hatch’s ruling, New York City judge Gustin Reichbach gave a disgraced NYPD detective probation for planting drugs on an innocent couple after that officer cried during his sentencing and begged for mercy.

In 2009 Chicago Judge John Fleming sentenced a fired policeman to probation following that burly, 250-lb officer’s conviction for beating a female bartender half his weight for her refusal to serve him more alcohol.

Ironically, Philadelphia Judge Patrick Dugan declined to comment on either his ruling or his failure to reveal his wife’s occupation by citing a provision of the same judicial ethics code that he had just trashed.

One section of Pennsylvania’s Code of Judicial Conduct does require judges to abstain from public comment about court cases. However, the core of that Code insists that judges avoid “impropriety and the appearance of impropriety,” stating clearly that public confidence in the judiciary is “eroded by irresponsible and improper conduct by judges.”

Reactions to Dugan’s acquittal and his wife’s occupation among members of the public and civic leaders showed eroded confidence in the judiciary – the problem that the code was intended to eliminate.

Zack Stalberg, president of Philadelphia’s civic watchdog Committee of Seventy, told a local television station that it was “inappropriate” for any Philadelphia judge to hear the Josey case. He said an out-of-town jurist should have presided during the trial over an incident that had sparked protests and public criticisms.

Judicial code prohibitions in Pennsylvania against judges serving as character witnesses in criminal trials resulted in part from the practice of Philadelphia judges vouching for police in brutality cases.

Lt. Josey’s videoed assault on Aida Guzman, a woman less than half his size, led to his firing and it produced an unusual public apology to Guzman from Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael Nutter, who termed the officer’s conduct, as displayed seen on the video to be “particularly appalling.”

During a raucous period at Philadelphia’s annual Puerto Rican Day Parade, the video showed Josey taking steps toward Guzman, who was not threatening him or any other officer, and then punching her with force enough to knock her to the ground, where he then grabbed the bloodied woman and slapped handcuffs on the clearly dazed Guzman.

Although Guzman’s only “offense” appeared to be spraying foam streamers, police arrested her for disorderly conduct, but later dropped that charge when the video of Guzman’s assault and arrest went viral last September. Police later charged the arresting officer who had struck her with simple assault, discharging him from the police force.

At trial, Josey maintained that he was trying to smack a beer bottle from Guzman’s hand and inadvertently punched her in the face. He declared his hitting of Guzman was an accident not assault.

Pennsylvania’s simple assault law is real simple: a person is guilty of simple assault if that person “…recklessly causes bodily injury to another.” But in this case, it was Guzman, not the officer or anyone else, who sustained injuries.

Josey attempting to swat a bottle from Guzman’s hand in any event violated Philadelphia police procedure. Such an act posed a reckless endangerment to Guzman and others from a flying bottle and/or broken glass if Josey had knocked the bottle to the ground as he claimed he was attempting to do.

Josey’s handcuffing arrest of Guzman contradicts normal handling of an accident which prompts a quick apology, a point raised by Guzman’s lawyer, who plans to sue the City of Philadelphia for Josey’s assault.

Judge Dugan said he believed Josey’s testimony about what he called an “accidental” punch, and he dismissed the video with the assertion that “this is not a social media contest.”

Dugan is not the first Philadelphia judge to embrace contradictory contentions from a police officer facing brutality charges.

In 1987, for example, judges dismissing charges in three police abuse cases in a ruling which triggered outrage from Philadelphia’s then District Attorney.

“I know that judges will bend over backwards to use whatever reasons they can to throw a case out against a police officer…It’s been historical,” said then DA Ronald Castille, who later became the state’s presiding top judge.

Interestingly, a year after Castille’s outburst, his office issued a report absolving police of any criminal misconduct charges arising from a May 1985 police bombing and burning during a shootout with the MOVE organization that left 11 MOVE members dead, including five children. 61 homes were destroyed in the ensuing fire, leaving 250 people homeless.

And nearly a decade after Castille’s 1987 criticisms, when he was serving on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, Castille voted to reject evidence of egregious brutality and abuses by Philadelphia police in the contentious murder case involving Mumia Abu-Jamal.

In voting in 1998 to reject Abu-Jamal’s second appeal of his internationally denounced murder conviction for killing a Philadelphia policeman, Castille rejected legal requests for his recusal that cited a Conduct Code provision that required removal of a judge who “served as a lawyer in the matter in controversy.”

As Philadelphia, DA Castille had fought to sustain Abu-Jamal’s conviction, yet as Supreme Court justice Castille claimed, improbably, that while DA he had been unaware of any facts about Abu-Jamal’s conviction, and had simply signed legal papers to sustain that conviction as an administrative duty.

Lt. Josey has the full support of Philadelphia police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, in seeking to regain his position in Philadelphia’s Police Department, an effort Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner vows to oppose.

LINN WASHINGTON, JR. is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper. His work, and that of colleagues JOHN GRANT, DAVE LINDORFF, LORI SPENCER and CHARLES M. YOUNG, can be found at

Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future