Odor! Odor in the Court

It wasn't impossible to find justice in Michael Dufficy's Marin County courtroom. But it was easier if you had been to one of his parties.

Shepherd found that out later, when by coincidence she took over the case from the attorney whom Cohen had described as a "madman" -- and found herself in negotiations she knew had already been tainted by what the judge had heard over dinner. She watched Dufficy and his underling ignore what she says was a mountain of evidence that showed her client deserved far more money than her husband was offering in the divorce case. She was so horrified by what she saw in court, she says -- including a complete disregard of evidence that her client's husband had illegally tried to conceal his income and assets -- that things could never be the same between the judge and her again. "It shouldn't have happened, but it did," she says, referring to how the judge's social life overlapped with his professional duties. "That's how things were done in Family Court. Nobody stood up and said, "We shouldn't be having this conversation.'"

Shepherd says she found herself reflecting back on the Karen Winner investigation. "When I first read the report, I thought it was poorly done," she says, "but after a while it would actually keep me awake at night."

She says she does not believe it was money that led the judge astray. Dufficy, she says, always had enough money. It was something else. Power maybe, or the need for love. "We were supposed to be friends, but there was always something strange about it," Shepherd says. "If Penny [Dufficy's wife] inquired about working at your office, you couldn't turn her down. Then she'd get in your files, and you just had the feeling that somehow the judge was nosing around in your business. It was creepy, really. And then, of course, you couldn't turn down an invitation up to the cabin."

Judge Michael Dufficy attributes his friendships to more than 30 years of practicing law in the same county. "Cronyism? I know everybody," he told a legal journal.
Jeremy Eaton
Judge Michael Dufficy attributes his friendships to more than 30 years of practicing law in the same county. "Cronyism? I know everybody," he told a legal journal.
Judge Michael Dufficy attributes his friendships to more than 30 years of practicing law in the same county. "Cronyism? I know everybody," he told a legal journal.
Courtesy of the Pacific Sun/Fred Mertz
Judge Michael Dufficy attributes his friendships to more than 30 years of practicing law in the same county. "Cronyism? I know everybody," he told a legal journal.

She says it dawned on her that frolicking with the judge was not just fun and games. And those affected by that behavior were not just disgruntled litigants but people in trying situations seeking help from the legal system.

Now the sun bleeds red through Shepherd's window. "I finally realized that what we were doing was wrong. It was not in the interest of justice. We were living a lie."

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