An Allegheny County judge must resentence a man convicted of conspiracy and reckless endangerment after the state Superior Court this week criticized the jurist's demeanor during the original proceeding.
Bruce Smith was sentenced to 17 to 34 years in prison for a shooting April 3, 2010, in the West End.
At his sentencing hearing before Common Pleas Judge Donald Machen on Sept. 27, 2011, Smith told the court he did not want to be represented by his public defender.
According to the transcript, Judge Machen replied: "Well, we all have problems every day of the week, so suck it up." Later, the judge continued, "Yeah, yeah. Take it up to the Superior Court. Tell them about your rights. Don't tell me. I'm not interested."
In its opinion, the court reminded Judge Machen that one canon of judicial conduct is to "be faithful to the law. ... Judges should be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and others with whom they deal in their official capacity." The court went on, "The integrity and independence of our courts mandate that those who seek to assert those rights should not be told to 'suck it up.' "