Quip About “Vagina Justice” Haunts Judge





It was just an ill-advised quip, a single line inserted in an explanation of why the judge was not locking up a woman.

This phrase, uttered roughly three years ago, is coming back to haunt County Judge Ian Richards, who is running for re-election next year:

“This is not vagina justice.”

Here is the story, which swept through the courthouse after JAAblog published it*:

Presiding over a domestic dispute, Judge Richards refused to order a woman taken into custody for violating a no-contact order and for not appearing at the hearing. The alleged male victim “was upset, letting the judge know that he believed the order would be issued for a male defendant,” according to JAAblog.

Judge Richards then spelled out the reasons for his decision, dropping in the line, “This is not vagina justice.”

Woman in the courthouse were outraged.

Fast forward to today:

Lawyer Claudia Robinson remembers the comment.

Earlier this month, Robinson became the second lawyer to open a campaign against Richards.  The first challenger was former Casey Anthony attorney Jonathan Kasen.

Says Robinson: “I became aware awhile back of a comment made by Judge Richards when he was the presiding judge in the Domestic Violence Court where he used the term ‘vagina justice’ in regards to a case before him. As a lawyer, a woman and most important a mother of a daughter, I take great issue with the use of this term by Judge Richards in any context.”

Broward County, Robinson says, deserves better.  Broward County deserves judges who are “fair and respectful.”

Judge Richards did not return a call left with his assistant for comment.


A Solid Resume


But Claudia Robinson is not running a single issue campaign of revenge.

Robinson, 36, is a solid candidate with a good resume – 2006-2008 at the Public Defender’s Office, 2008-2012 as in-house counsel for the Police Benevolent Association and a year in private practice.  She’s married to a Sunrise cop.

And she has lived the American success story.

Robinson moved here from Nicaragua in 1978 along with her mother.  Estrada is her maiden name. They had $200 to their name.

The little family moved into a tiny studio apartment in Liberty City in Miami. Later, grandma joined them.

Robinson knew the path out was through education.  She struggled, learning English.

Eventually, Robinson graduated from the University of Florida School of Law in only two and a half years.


Ethnic Politics


With Robinson’s entrance, the race is now about something other than justice.  In the world of politics, the race has becomes a morass of ethnic and gender-based politics.

Judge Richards is a Caribbean black who many believe hid his ethnicity from many white voters in the last election. No pictures in flyers mailed into most white communities. No extensive discussion of his background.

Ian Richards beat an incumbent judge who had a Spanish-sounding name. Political consultants assume that Ian Richards got votes from whites that thought they were voting for a white with an English pedigree.

This time around, Richards can’t hide from his heritage.

Meanwhile, Robinson is Hispanic.  And her married name, Robinson, could be interpreted as black.

There are two Broward judges named Robinson who are black – Circuit Judge Michael Robinson and County Court Judge Mary Rudd Robinson.

So Clauda Robinson should do well with Hispanic voters.  And she may cut into Judge Richards votes in the black community.

In addition Robinson’s votes in the inner city could be boosted by the antipathy between African Americans and Caribbean-born blacks like Richards.


Gender Politics



Robinson is the only woman in the race now.

“In low information races where little is known about candidates, women have a tendency to vote for woman absent of other knowledge. Men, however, aren’t known to vote based on gender,” pollster and University of Florida professor Jim Kane says.

Kane called judicial races “the lowest information races there are, except maybe a soil and water district race.”


Help Me Howard!


The popular Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, who has the “Help Me Howard” feature on Channel 7 news, has criticized judicial candidates who challenge minority judges in the past.

Finkelstein told Browardbeat.com that his inclination at this point is to sit this one out, noting a Hispanic Robinson is one of those running against the black Richards.

Finkelstein did offer some nice words about Robinson that can’t hurt:  “She did a very nice job for us. She was always very upbeat and dedicated.”

This one is just getting started.


* JAAblog’s publisher Bill Gelin wrote at the time that he had a CD of the comment and offered copies to readers.   He wrote it was a format he couldn’t use on his influential courthouse blog.


30 Responses to “Quip About “Vagina Justice” Haunts Judge”

  1. Courthouse Observer says:

    Richards is hated by Howard’s PDs. Other judges also dislike him. The State Atty has no use for him. He doesn’t in a courtroom much less presiding.

  2. Kevin says:


    I generally agree with you, but your theory assumes that Robinson will be able to identify herself as Hispanic to Hispanic voters without “tipping off” black voters that she is not black.

    That’s hard to do, and if caught doing it, the media will come down on her hard. Of course this is not such a problem anymore, since there are very few media left covering local elections besides blogs like this.

    I well remember several campaigns in Dade in the late 1990s where candidates advertised one thing in English and something totally contradictory in Spanish. Then one complete moron actually did this with a flip-over postcard in Coral Gables, of all places, with contradictory information on opposite sides of the postcard in the two different languages. Since almost every Hispanic voter in the Gables is bilingual, this backfired.

    Ugh. Never overestimate the intelligence of judicial candidates, and never underestimate the fact that judicial campaign consultants are basically vampires who prey on naive lawyers.


  3. Dumb says:

    Hey Kev, stick to dealing with the losers in Dade. Dade in the 90s is relevant to what?

    Where did Robinson say she was going to do anything dupe anyone. It is clear she is a hispanic woman who took her husbands married name. Happens everyday. I dont see she is hiding being hispanic or openly claiming she is black when she is not. If the voetrs make that assumption then it is on them.

    Considering the history of how Judge Richards got elected, I will never overestimate Broward voters, lol.

  4. Judicial Watcher says:

    In watching judicial races a couple things are clear… Nobody knows the candidates.

    Women vote women, men vote men and women…

    Kasen is a condescending prick who represented Casey Anthony … People who vote don’t like her very much.

    Richards has made enemies of both the SAO and PD (usually its one or the other) and has managed to offend just about every person with a vagina.

    Robinson is young woman with light on experience but hasn’t pissed off the masses. People are bad mouthing her but it is exactly the type of bad mouthing Richards would do. Talking about her sexuality. So cliché.

    It will be interesting, that’s for sure.

  5. Disgusted says:

    Any public figure much less a judge should be ostracized for making such a comment. Tell Judge Richards that in the United States, it is not funny or glib to make insulting remarks about a person’s gender. Richards is a county court judge not a comedian, and he was in courtroom, not on HBO.

  6. Buddy is bais I am just saying says:

    It is very clear to anyone who reads browardbeat that Buddy does not like Richards. I think Bubby’s hate level for Richards is right up there with President Obama. Everything he writes is negative. To be honest I think Bubby and the http://jaablog.jaablaw.com/ are obsessed with him. He and the newspaper come up with a notion that Richards ran against an opponent because she was Hispanic to try and sell newspapers. What about the other two judges that supposedly targeted Hispanic judges. Will they get opposition? I don’t think they will get opposition. I think ran against her because she was a bad judge and he believed he can do a better job. Which by the way he has done a pretty great job. I know for a fact that this Election will be interesting and when Richards wins. He will silence his critics once and for all or not.

  7. Hahaha says:

    Buddy is “bais”? I assume you mean “biased”.

    Very obvious who is writing this post.

    Please learn the English language …..You have plenty of time since you’ll be kept hidden just like in 2008.

  8. Send Him A Check says:

    DING! DING! DING! (the lights are coming on!!! The sirens are blaring!!!)

    Wow, did it take forever for all the readers of this sponsored blog to notice the (paid for) bias. Not just Buddy, but the posters (troll patrols) as well.

    Need proof? Send an e-mail asking for all sponsors/donors. See if Buddy discloses, as required by FTC regulation of sponsored blogs.

  9. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Tempest in a teapot. Not settling on any particular candidate yet, but to complain about this expression in this context is to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    With there being so few black judges in Broward despite a substantial black demographic, the “affirmative action” factor is important here. And it’s certainly much more important than this lame claim. Next, we will hear that Richards drives a car to work instead of doing the ecologically correct thing by riding a bicycle!

    Go see the “Vagina Monologues” and get over the prudery. Nobody should be any more reluctant to say “penis” or “vagina” than other simple body parts like “finger” or “toe”.

  10. Judicial Watcher says:

    It’s not about the vagina part of the comment. It is in the context of the “justice” that is the problem.

    What if the phrase were “black justice” or “gay justice” or “handicapped justice” or “white justice”

    What Judge Richards is implying is that are different standards for “justice” in his courtroom. That is simply unacceptable.

  11. Real Justice says:


    VAGINA JUSTICE belongs no where in a judge’s vocabulary.
    Also, Richards took out a hispanic judge. The race card is not working for him. He is disliked because he is arrogant. It’s time for a new judge. Claudia Robinson or Jonathan Kasen would be a big improvement.

  12. Spellcheck please says:

    If the above is mrs Richards can you please get a spellcheck. It is obvious you write the same chopped up way you blogged in 2008. Take what you make from Chinese interpreting and get the Microsoft word. Hmmm I wonder if judge Ian and his fair skinned Chinese wife will be on his campaign lit this time?

  13. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @10, exactly the opposite is true. Try actually reading the article. The litigant accused Judge Richards of gender bias, and Judge Richards then explained that there was no gender bias involved…

    Presiding over a domestic dispute, Judge Richards refused to order a woman taken into custody for violating a no-contact order and for not appearing at the hearing. The alleged male victim “was upset, letting the judge know that he believed the order would be issued for a male defendant,” according to JAAblog. Judge Richards then spelled out the reasons for his decision, dropping in the line, “This is not vagina justice.”

  14. Owl says:

    Now you’re going to attack the Judge’s wife? Richards just got my vote, and the votes in my condo too.

  15. Jane Miguel says:


    I’m with you. I am voting for Richards and I’m showing everyone in my Dem. club this post.

    @spellcheck please

    You are so overtly racist! It’s 2013 not 1950. You must be the campaign stategist/supporter/hitman appealing to the older (65 and up) voting block.

    Oh no!!! Judge Richards is not only black, he’s married to(OMG!!!) an Asian. Don’t vote for him. He’s not qualified to be a judge based on this. Bullish*t!!!

    Not only did you smear a judge’s spouse, you mentioned his spouse’s race. Your parents must be proud to have raised such a good little racist.

  16. Judicial Watcher says:

    @ 13

    Here is why you are wrong… Richards’ quote about “vagina justice”, even if denying that’s what he is engaging in is “vagina justice” … The fact he mentions the term is offensive on its face.

    Once again, if he mentioned gay justice, latino justice, jewish justice, black justice, handicapped justice what would the answer be?

    Even if he said he wasn’t engaging in it, what would the response be?

    The implication is that there are different standards of justice based on a persons race, sex, ethnicity, etc…

  17. just one vote (NOT for richards) says:

    @Judicial Watcher – Thank You.

    Justice wears that blindfold, right? She does so for a reason. Sure wish judges would remember that course from law school.

  18. Not the point says:

    It has nothing to do what he meant its that he lacked the intelligence and sensitivity to use a better choice of words. Could put imagine a white judge using a n word about blacks in open court and then saying it was ok because they call themselves the same word.

  19. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @16 – Mentioning the term “vagina” is not the least bit “offensive on its face”. A vagina is a simple body part like a finger or a toe, and nobody should be hesitant to use any term of this type at all.

    As body parts go, the vagina is one of the very best. It creates great pleasure and brings new life into the world. Vaginas are wonderful. Go see the play “Vagina Monologues” and get rid of your prudery.

    The assertion of “different standards of justice based on a person’s sex…” was being made by the male litigant, who upon receiving a ruling that didn’t go his way was simply making bad assumptions and jumping to incorrect conclusions in the heat of that moment. Judge Richards correctly laid out the valid reasons for his decision and easily disproved that male litigant’s false and unwarranted “implication”.

  20. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @18 – The “n” word is well recognized as a racial slur. The word “vagina” is not and has never been a slur of any kind. And as I described in my response to 16, vaginas are in fact wonderful. So go join 16 at the next performance of “The Vagina Monologues” – that way, both of you can get rid of your prudery at the same time!

  21. Real Justice says:

    Besides being arrogant, it appears as though Ian Richards and his supporters are ignorant and rude.
    Bottom line: Judges must not use the term “vagina justice” or any other similarly insensitive word or phrase.
    A judge is a judge 24/7 and his conduct is watched 24/7. Ian Richards needs to go back to practicing law.

  22. Watching the race says:

    @ ha ha ha,

    That is a good moniker because you are a laughing stock.

    If someone complained that the judge was taking or failing to take action because of the persons religious beliefs, and the judge responded this is not “jew justice”, what would your answer be?

    What is “vagina justice”? I’ve spent a lot of time at some very good schools, been in practice for a long time and I have never been taught that term, never read it in any appellate decision.

    Most certainly there is nothing wrong with the term vagina. However, in context to the term “vagina justice” the implication is there is a different standard for women than men.

  23. wendy pagen says:

    I can’t believe we are talking about a judge using the term “vagina” in this context. Completely unacceptable. Ian Richards should not be elected based on this alone! He didn’t deserve to be elected in the first place and he will not get elected this time around. This has nothing to do about race. Too many people know who the real Ian Richards is.

  24. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @22 – the idea that there is a different standard for men and women was not Judge Richards’ idea – it was the male litigant’s idea, and Judge Richards vigorously attacked that incorrect idea.

    You are twisting the situation to make it seem as if Judge Richards was advocating that idea, when in fact Judge Richards was very systematically destroying it.

  25. Judicial Watcher says:

    @ ha ha ha

    The only person to utter the words “vagina justice” was Judge Richards. He brought that narrative into play. A proper response would be something to the affect of, ” sir, nobody is treated differently by this court. Facts and circumstances of each case not Race, sex, creed, color, religion, socio-economic status nor sexual preference determine how the court makes its decisions”

  26. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @25 – Everybody chooses their own words, and that’s fine. A single idea can be expressed in many different ways. But what you are arguing here is that Richards should be voted against not because of what he was saying, but because he didn’t choose YOUR words in the process of saying it.

    The English language contains many fine adjectives. Richards coined the succinct phrase “vagina justice” to colorfully describe the idea he was in the process of shooting down. The phrase works because it clearly communicates the idea it is meant to represent. If anything, Richards should be praised for his innovative use of the English language.

    To claim that a candidate should be voted against, not because of positions on issues, not because of certifications or qualifications, not because of anything substantive, but only because the candidate didn’t use your words rather than his words, is the epitome of superficiality. It is so utterly vacuous that it seems implausible that this is the real reason involved.

    Indeed, the other arguments against Richards are similarly vague, ad hominem attacks which assert a dislike for his personality in broad terms. This is typical of the evasions historically used to discriminate against African-Americans. The poll test was ostensibly intended to test voters for literacy, but its actual purpose and effect was to deny voting rights to African-Americans.

    The arguments against Richards are so weak that it’s reasonable to suspect that many of his opponents are actually attempting to remove Richards simply for “judging while black”.

  27. Watching the race says:

    Once again ha ha ha,

    You are making my point, when you talk about someone’s gender, race, creed, religion, ethnicity, in terms of the justice that was meted out. You clearly are lifting the blindfold off of justice.

  28. Real Justice says:

    Judge Ian Richards is black???

  29. Suspicious huh? says:

    By the way, Robinson had no idea about the “vagina justice” comment until she was probably told by someone at the PD’s office, probably the Gelin’s themselves. So someone tipped her off so she could use that platform to run against him with the PDs and Jaablog’s backing. Notice how Gelin is always crying about black judges being run against and the lack of black judges in Broward but he hasn’t said peep about Robinson running? Not one comment about another lawyer trying to run against a minority judge. Usually he is up in arms about this kind of stuff. So is Finkelstein. Yet not a peep from either. Just another day of trying to stack the deck of judges in their favor, bc there sure aren’t a lot of them.

  30. Robert Frankl says:

    Hopefully Ian Richards is not re-elected. He is a lawyer who does not demonstrate the superior ethical and moral qualities required by a judge. His removal from the bench will be broward county’s gain. The above is based on personal experience with Ian Richards and seeing him function as a judge in his courtroom.