Having lately emigrated from northern California, I still keep up on the news from my previous home. Other parts of the country, or even other parts of northern California, deal with raucous town hall meetings or rioting in the streets over speakers invited onto campus. Sonoma County, by contrast, is mired in controversy over Superior Court Judge Elliot Daum’s artistic – or political – expression. After the recent peaceful transfer of power with the inauguration of a new president, Judge Daum removed the portrait of Barack Obama from his courtroom. The space previously reserved for the president’s image now displays a single piece of fruit, an orange. A real orange. Local Republicans and some lawyers have criticized the judge’s allegedly expressing political opinions in court and showing disrespect for the president.
A Sonoma State University criminal justice professor said Daum’s orange “pushes the limits of what we hope for from our judges in terms of their involvement in the politics of the day.” He went on to say, “I also think it is pretty funny.”
Judge Daum so far has made no public comment on the matter.