Sunday, March 31, 2013

Judges pretending to be Jesus.

As Easter dawns, young children will get up and search for candy.  Legally-minded people may ponder the question, can a Wisconsin state court judge play the role of Jesus in a living version of Da Vinci's The Last Supper. One can be forgiven for being surprised to learn that the Wisconsin Supreme Court Judicial Conduct Advisory Committee has answered this question.

It turns out that the answer to the question is "yes." Or, to quote Reverend Lovejoy, "Yes if." 

It seems that in 1999 a newly-minted judge asked the committee if he-making the assumption it was a he-could appear in a theater production entitled "The Living Dramatization of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper." The opinion describes the performance as a one hour program of "drama, music, and worship."  The drama comes from a series of soliloquies by actors playing the Apostles and the music is was provided by a choir. It appears that donations were accepted but no admission price was charged to the event.  The judge had played the role of Jesus prior to getting on the bench and wanted to continue performing the non-speaking role. It may not have been the most challenging role in drama. The opinion describes says that the part "requires the actor to remain still . . ." while the Apostles do all the talking.  On the other hand, if I sat still for an hour without talking I would probably fall asleep. In any event, the judge wanted to continue performing the part.

The committee said the judge could continue performing in the production as long as the purpose of the production was not to raise funds. I believe this means selling tickets as opposed to having a donation basket.  Also, the judge could not let his job title be used with the production in any way.  Since it sounds like the judge was doing this before he ever became a judge, I assume the second requirement was not a problem.

Sadly I was unable to find any websites promoting this event in Wisconsin this year.  So, I can't really speculate as to which judge might have wanted this opinion. 

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