Judge Not for Sale, Despite eBay Listing
The ad criticized Judge Jerald R. Klein for the way he dispensed justice and showed a photograph of him smiling, seated in the courtroom. It drew 6,400 and 21 bidders over four days.
"I'd like to know their rules for this," said Klein, who first learned about the posting from a reporter who called him at home.
"I'd like to know what investigation they did before they put this out there," he said in Monday editions of The New York Times.
An eBay spokesman said the company never investigates listings before they are put up for auction on its Web site. There are more than 30 million listings on eBay and 3.6 million are added daily, making it impossible for the company to screen advertisements, the spokesman said.
However, after eBay was made aware of the listing, it took the posting down, citing a number of rules that it said the ad violated, including misleading description, unauthorized use of a photo and unauthorized use of a name.
The ad, entitled "Judge for Sale," was posted last Wednesday by Janet Schoenberg, a disgruntled litigant in a landlord-tenant dispute in New York City Civil Court who said Klein was mishandling the case and that she had exhausted other ways of drawing attention to her case.
"In today's world, this is how people who are not celebrities can get their voice heard," said Schoenberg. She maintained, however, that she meant the ad as a joke. "I didn't expect anybody to actually bid on this," she said. "It was satire, it was parody."
She said that the judge himself was never for sale. In fine print, after accusing the judge of lying and breaking the law, she explained that her posting is a "work of art" and what was actually for sale was an audiocassette of the judge's proceedings, which are public record. She said the tape provided proof that she was being wrongly evicted from her rent-controlled studio.
After four days on eBay, the best offer for the judge was $127.50.
Klein declined to comment on the potential libel issues, saying that he would discuss his next action with court administrators.2004-12-13 16:32:48 GMT