"Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill it teaches the whole people by its example.
Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself."
–Supreme Court Justice Brandeis

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Judge’s threats

A Judge’s threats

The judge in this article blames his insensitivity on his short (3 year) tenure. Three years certainly seems like enough time to gain experience, doesn’t it?  

Judge’s Treatment of Rape Victims Draws Fire

Here’s his first mistake:

Rape cases are often settled without a trial so that the victim can avoid testifying and reliving the ordeal.

But Common Pleas Judge Tim Horton recently ordered two victims to appear in court, in front of their attackers, because he said he wanted to make sure that everyone understood the plea deals that had been worked out by attorneys.

So he asks some of his victims to come to court. Here’s his second mistake:

…a young woman began to break down on the witness stand, and Horton, who has been a judge for three years, scolded her.

“About two minutes here, if you don’t gather yourself, I’m about to rip up this guilty plea, and this man in front of you is about to walk. So I would do your very best to gather yourself,” Horton said, according to court transcripts.

Hmmm. He threatens to allow an accused rapist free if the victim, who was raped at knifepoint on a pool table, doesn’t compose herself.

Then, his third mistake:

Horton also ordered prosecutors to bring the 13-year-old boy to the courthouse so he could look him in the eye and explain why a relative might spend the rest of his life in prison for repeatedly molesting the boy when he was 9.

The old “do you really want to do this” punishment to the perpetrator (you know, you will ruin his career forever, blah, blah, blah). How sad is it that we have such sympathy for perpetrators in this society? And judges who reinforce this bias?

Judge, three stikes and you’re out.

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