I Guess Anyone Can Become a Judge?
A US jury has sentenced an Oklahoma judge to one year in prison for using a penis pump on the bench during three murder trials and a civil case in 2002 and 2003.
Donald D. Thompson, 59, was convicted Thursday and fined 10,000 dollars for each count. Thompson told the jury he would also lose his 90,000-dollar-a-year pension.
The verdict, which exposed the judge's behind-the-bench secrets, capped a bizarre and awkward chapter in the state's judicial history.
Thompson's longtime court reporter, Lisa Foster, wept on the stand as she recalled how she discovered the source of a "sh-sh" sound in the courtroom. She said she spied Thompson's penis inside the pump through a small gap between a drawer and a door.
Foster said she later saw Thompson's penis 15 to 20 times over the course of three years. She also saw him shave his scrotum and urinate into a trashcan behind the bench.
"I was really shocked and kind of scared, because it was so bizarre," Foster said. "I didn't know what to do."
The defense maintained that the charges were part of a vendetta by local police to overthrow Thompson.
The judge denied ever using the pump -- a device used in the hope of enlarging the penis or combatting erectile dysfunction -- saying it was a joke gift from his best friend in 2001.
He said he moved the pump back and forth between his bench and chambers but never used it on his penis.
"Twenty-twenty hindsight: I should have thrown it away, but I didn't," Thompson said.
The white-handled pump sat on an evidence table in front of the jury throughout the trial, and both the prosecution and defense at times picked it up and squeezed the handle for effect.
Jurors also heard court reporter's tapes from each trial, and a rhythmic, high-pitched whoosh of air punctuated emotional witness testimony in the murder trials.
Testimony in the judge's trial drew giggles and embarrassed glances from jurors and the gallery in this conservative Oklahoma hamlet, 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of Oklahoma City.
Several witnesses said Thompson often made himself at home behind the bench, removing his shoes to shine them and clip his toenails, spitting tobacco into a cup and fidgeting with an electronic organizer.