Saturday, April 14, 2018

Prosecutors in robes

There are countless examples of biased judges who rule for prosecutors despite the rules of evidence.  Sometimes, judges will even make up evidence out of thin air to help out the state.  This is problematic, of course, because judges are supposed to be — or at least should pretend to be — neutral and detached.  This newest example of judicial bias comes courtesy of an email from The Dog’s compatriot, The Irreverent Lawyer.  It’s pretty good, and exposes yet another judge who is merely a prosecutor in judicial clothing.

In the case, “[a] California judge who sentenced two men to life for murder was secretly recorded during trial calling them names and saying he’d refuse a defense motion in order to help the prosecution.”  My favorite example: “He calls a single trial a ‘prosecutor’s dream’ because the men might implicate each other.”

This link discusses the same case, and provides a transcription of the exchange between the defendant and the judge.  When the defendant uses the judge’s negative statements specifically about the defendant to challenge his honor’s impartiality, the judge invokes his right to free speech.  That argument, however, misses the point.  Of course the judge has the right to express his opinion about the defendant, even when that opinion is that the defendant is guilty.  However, the judge can’t then preside over the case, as the defendant is entitled to a neutral and detached magistrate.

So that’s two strikes.  First, the judge at least appears to be biased against the defendant.  Second, his honor misunderstands free speech and how it relates to his job as a neutral and detached magistrate.  Too bad California doesn’t have a “three strikes” program for judges. 

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