Jason Thompson was part of a work crew spiffing up the home of Associate Circuit Judge John A. Clark for a summer garden party. When the judge paid Mr. Thompson by giving him gas money plus a mere $5 for lunch, neither he nor the other laborers were in a position to complain.

According to August 1998 findings by Missouri’s judicial conduct commission, the work crew was made up of probationers from Judge Clark’s courtroom. The judge called the work “community service”; the conduct commissioners said it was more like “oppression.”

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