969 F.2d 1280 (1st Cir. 1992), 90-1790, Desjardins v. Van Buren Community Hosp.

Docket Nº:90-1790.
Citation:969 F.2d 1280
Party Name:Eugene DESJARDINS, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. VAN BUREN COMMUNITY HOSPITAL, Defendant, Appellant.
Case Date:July 07, 1992
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Page 1280

969 F.2d 1280 (1st Cir. 1992)

Eugene DESJARDINS, Plaintiff, Appellee,



No. 90-1790.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

July 7, 1992

Heard March 5, 1992.

William J. Smith, Van Buren, Me., for appellant.

Paul F. Macri with whom Berman, Simmons & Goldberg, P.A., Lewiston, Me., Kaighn Smith, Jr., and Tureen & Margolin, Portland, Me., were on brief, for appellee.

Page 1281

Before TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge, WEIS, [*] and BOWNES, Senior Circuit Judges.


This case stems from the defendant hospital's discharge of plaintiff from his employment. The plaintiff's complaint asserted six claims alleging: count I, violation of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794; count II, violation of the Maine Human Rights Act, Me.Rev.Stat.Ann. tit. 5, § 4551 et seq.; count III, breach of an employment contract; count IV, wrongful discharge; count V, violation of the Whistle Blowers statute, Me.Rev.Stat.Ann. tit. 26, § 831 et seq.; and count VI, negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The case was tried to a jury which found in favor of plaintiff on all counts except count III, on which a verdict for defendant was returned. The jury awarded plaintiff the sum of $17,967. In post-trial proceedings, the court granted further relief to plaintiff consisting of $5,000 "front pay," attorneys' fees and costs of $15,968.97, and an order directing defendant to make a public apology in a local newspaper. Defendant has appealed, asserting that the conduct of the district judge during the trial was prejudicial and that the order requiring a public apology violates the First Amendment.


The defendant's complaints about the trial judge are directed at his limitation of cross-examination of the plaintiff's wife, his admonitions to the hospital administrator during cross-examination, and his questioning of that witness.

To keep these contentions in perspective, it is important to understand the role of a federal district judge during a trial. Unquestionably, bias and improper conduct by a trial judge may be grounds for a new trial if a party was unfairly prejudiced. Active participation by a district judge in trial proceedings, however, is in itself neither improper nor unfair.

Chief Justice Hughes, writing for a unanimous Court in Quercia v. United States, 289...

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