Can a Judge Really Release Details of Your Adoption Case?

charlizeadoptionLast month, Charlize Theron made the news. Which in and of itself is not surprising, her being a Hollywood actress and all. But what was surprising? Apparently the judge in her son’s adoption case was removed from the bench for releasing information about the case. After reading more about it, I started wondering … is my daughter’s adoption judge gossiping about us? Or what about the attorneys? Or the court bailiffs? We’re certainly not celebrities, but maybe there’s something in our record that might lead to ridicule?

Oh. My. Gosh. I’m going to try to not freak out. I’m going to try really, really hard.

The judge, Michael Maggio, was fired for sharing closed-case information about Theron’s 2012 adoption in an online forum, “tigerdroppings,” a Louisiana State University fan site. According to the commissioner’s report, Maggio wrote that a friend of his handled a single-parent adoption case involving Theron, and that she came to court wearing a “long brown wig [and] oversized clothes” so as not to be recognized. He also made an off-color remark that he “offered to be the baby daddy,” the document said.

But that’s not all. I downloaded the entire Judicial Discipline Commissioner’s report and was pretty horrified to read what Maggio, a father of five, wrote about the other cases he was presiding over. Sure enough, he was sharing details and reactions to non-celebrity cases as well. One written comment was, “Hollllleeeeee Craaaaaaaapppp. Think Maury and Springer together.” Ouch.

It’s scary — judges are human just like the rest of us but we expect to be able to trust people in positions of authority with our personal information. Perhaps we shouldn’t? I’ve decided to assume many people are indeed sharing confidential information.  Given the [wrongly] assumed anonymity of the Internet, it’s not going to stop any time soon. Did Maggio understand that he was jeopardizing his entire career? I doubt it. However, he did provide a service to remind me that almost nothing is private anymore.


Image courtesy of Pacific Coast News

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