Would you approve a judge you thought could be unbiased if their background could giveÂ the public doubts about their impartiality?
I would have to sit down and talk to the nominee and get a true feeling for why the publicÂ might have their doubts about their impartiality. The right questioning and research by talking toÂ members of his local bar, court officers, probation officers and other members of the communityÂ will give me a pretty good understanding of where in his background questions about his or herÂ impartiality emerged and if there is they still exist.
In a June 27, 2010 Sunday Parade Magazine article, Judging the value of Redemption, theÂ author, Linda Himelstein, writes a great article about an ex-con and former drug addict who isÂ now an attorney. He is a potential candidate for a judicial nomination by the governor. AttorneyÂ Rick Dyer, 58, will have a chance to sentence defendants who engage in substance abuse ifÂ nominated and confirmed. Will his impartiality be at issue?
Dyer credits his transformation in life to the late Charles â€Chickâ€ Artesani, a judge whoÂ has never given up on him. â€œThough Artesani repeatedly sentenced Dyer to prison, he alsoÂ recommended drug treatment or psychological assessment over jail whenever it was an option.â€Â Maybe the â€˜torchâ€™ can be passes to Dyer if the Governorâ€™s Council sees him as a goodÂ nominee?
One of the functions of the Governorâ€™s Council is to advise the governor on pardons andÂ commutations of sentences. Under what circumstances are a pardon or commutation isÂ justified?
This is a tough one and I would take this assignment especially seriously. I would need a lot ofÂ convincing when and if I would vote for a pardon and commutation. A lot would depend on whyÂ it is being initiated, why at this time, who is initiating it, what is his/her report card while servingÂ time. A very important variable in this equation would be how long the inmate was sentencedÂ for and what the full statue of the law allowed and what was the reason why the individual wasÂ sentenced?
The victim and the victimâ€™s family would have a great impact on this decision. My vote willÂ also be influenced by the Parole Boardâ€™s recommendation as well as expert testimony fromÂ corrections, parole officers as well as statements from mental health officials if this is relevantÂ to his/her release or reduction of sentence. If the inmate is asking for a pardon or commutationÂ with only a short time to live. Then this might influence the Council and my vote in deciding.
It is unlikely that I will support a lessening of time or clemency to a serious crime suchÂ as murder, rape or home invasion where someone was injured. This assignment will beÂ taken very seriously and I will make sure it is done right. The Governorâ€™s web page has aÂ thirteen page â€˜Guidelineâ€™ outlining the steps that have to be taken for Executive Clemency.
The current 209A restraining order law, and the new anti-stalking law gives judges a hugeÂ amount of discretion in deciding on restraining orders in ex-parte hearings where theyÂ donâ€™t get to hear both sides of the case. What characteristics should a judge have to beÂ able to apply the 209A process fairly?
A 209A has always been a whirlwind tool that is very hard to enforce and has been used andÂ abused. In the juvenile court world when an order that a juvenile should not come in contactÂ with another juvenile for say 100 feet and if there is a meeting the juvenile should avoid theÂ other juvenile with no verbal or non-verbal exchange. This is almost impossible in this day andÂ age where children meet other children in schools, sports, after-school organized activities, etc. Same is true in the adult world. Strained relations meet in the supper market, places of worship, at the local coffee shop etc.
A judge has to hear an individualâ€™s ex-parte request for a restraining order and determineÂ with only the â€œvictimâ€™s â€œ request that the reason a restraining order is needed. This is when aÂ judgeâ€™s sense of logic, good listening traits and gut reaction takes over. The judge has to listen to the story whether it is presented by an attorney or by the victim and listen, watch and decide. Many times, restraining orders are heard during the heat of the moment and the complainant does not dress in attire that one would expect to see in the courtroom or in the judgeâ€™s lobby. The judge must see the whole picture and understand what might have proceeded the request.
Earlier in the year, the legislature passed an anti-stalking law (268e). This gives the judge more discretion and another tool. It allows a person suffering from harassment to file a complaint to seek relief from abuse, harassment and contacting the plaintiff as well as remain away from the plaintiffâ€™s household or workplace and pay the plaintiff monetary compensation for the losses suffered as a direct result of the harassment.