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As Mexican courts battle scandal, judges slug it out

MEXICO CITY — A Mexican judge sprang from his chair to push and punch two fellow justices during a court session, adding to a string of embarrassments for Mexico’s scandal-plagued judicial system.

The head of the Morelos state appeals court said Thursday that Justice Miguel Angel Falcon had brought shame upon the court and faces possible impeachment, though he could not be immediately suspended following the Wednesday attack.

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The stocky Falcon got mad at fellow judge Ruben Jasso, at one point calling him ‘‘stupid,’’ and then became enraged when Jasso accused Falcon of insulting him.

As Jasso spoke, Falcon suddenly leaped from his chair, rushed over to Jasso and began pummeling him, apparently knocking him to the floor. Another justice who got in his way was knocked back into his chair.

The court’s chief, Justice Nadia Lara Chavez, said the judges are studying how to start the process of disciplining Falcon.

‘‘We are very ashamed that such a thing could happen in a high appeals court,’’ Lara Chavez said. ‘‘There are some people who just do not have the tolerance to accept certain comments.’’

Falcon’s office said he was not available for comment.

The episode in Morelos follows a chain of other cases that have stained judicial reputations.

The National Human Rights Commission declared Tuesday that a former chief justice of the nation’s Supreme Court, as well as Mexico City court officials, had misused the justice system in a vendetta against the justice’s ex-girlfriend, the mother of his two autistic children, keeping her in prison for about a year on trumped-up charges.

The former chief justice, Genaro Gongora, was fighting the woman’s lawsuit to gain higher child-support payments. He accused her of illegally keeping property meant for the two children, even though she lived with the boys.

The rights commission said courts refused to dismiss the baseless charges and the city’s human rights authorities failed to investigate the violations of her rights.

The commission called on the court system and city officials to apologize to the woman and pay damages.

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