Another "non-political" issue

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by klmno, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Here's a short summary: The daugher of our state's Supreme Court Chief Justice is caught shoplifting. She is tried in adult court because she's 18yo. She gets 30 days in jail- suspended. The prosecuting attny said the punishment was designed to allow dismissal of the case after a period of time. They had a substitute judge from out of town try the case because ALL the local judges in the jurisdiction recused themselves.

    Here are my 2 issues: 1) She was pleading guilty- I can't believe that all local judges felt the need to recuse themselves. If they are afraid of retaliation or a "grudge" from our Cheif Justice in the state, what does that say for our state's juducial integrity? They certainly expect all other parents to get over it.

    And 2) I can see a defense attny pushing for the charge to be dropped at some point- but the prosecuting attny? For someone 18yo, tried as an adult and who was caught red-handed and pleads guilty? (by the way, She didn't need to steal to get clothes and there was no mention of needing mental health treatment.)

    On the defense side, they said she had done some community service before coming to court.
  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    It was the appearance of impropriety that they worried about. The judge still had to decide an appropriate sentence, and if that one had been given by a judge who was well known the family there would have been an uproar. It was the only way to keep someone from crying "foul" later on in the game due to the judge being a personal friend.

    For a first offense shoplifting, the sentence sounds about right. In pleading guilty, she admitted the facts of the crime in court. She doesn't have to explain why or give up any personal information. It was a smart move on her part. Hopefully she'll straighten up her act.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Does that mean that all judges in the area are personal friends of the Chief Justice of our state's supreme court? I thought it had more to do with the way our judges are chosen and kept in this state- by the general assembly's choice, nothing more.
  4. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I worked in retail. I prosecuted shoplifters, everytime. No one ever got jail time, excused or not, unless they were multiple offenders......I don't recall even them getting any significant time in jail.

    I would imagine that all the judges in the juristiction probably know each other from either court or social circles. That doesn't seem that odd to me.
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    It has more to do with having been before the judge in the past and winning or losing and being able to say "he hates me" or "He always takes care of me"; or the possibility of having state's business before the judge in the future. They don't want it to seem that there were favors given or that favors should be expected in the future. State and local officials are before these judges all of the time, and if they haven't been, they will be at some point. They can't have personal matters heard by judges they might expect to work with or have worked with in the past.
  6. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The judges were right to recuse themselves. Cases heard by those judges will be appealed to the supreme court for many years to come. It would be a conflict of interest. It was right to have a visiting judge hear the case.

  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Ok, but won't cases by the substitute judge be appealed and heard, too? He's still in this state and I doubt that this is the only time he's acting as a substitute juudge.

    I'm not trying to be difficult, I just really don't get it. If it was the daughter of another judge in that jurisdiction, I could see it. Anyway, they just arrested another woman for petit larceny for shoplifting a pair of pants. It will be interesting to see if she gets the same thing. If that is the typical punishment, than a juvenile gets as much or more. A juvenile wouldn't have a chance of having it dismissed until successfully completing 1 year of probation without stepping out of line once. And that's for a first offense only.
  8. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    In my state, laws are much tougher on juveniles. When difficult child was 15 he was riding around with some older friends who thought it would be fun to bash some trashcans with a baseball bat. difficult child was in the back seat of a two door car with no windows. He never touched the bat, he never hit a trashcan. They were caught. The driver and front seat passenger were 17---charged as adults. They went to a 2 hour class. difficult child got 9 months probation, 40 hours of community service, and had to take a class as well.
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I can understand why they did it. Puts them in a no win situation. And that doesn't mean anything bad about the supreme Justice. It just means out of necessity these people all run in the same circles, especially from the same area. The judges most likely bowed out so no one on either side could claim bias.

    by the way her sentence sounds about right. Not too tough, nor too lax. in my opinion shoplifters aren't punished enough for a deterrent. But maybe that's just me.:tongue:
  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I can't honestly say that I think she should have gotten jail time. It just stuck out in my mind and looks worse to me that all the judges recused themselves. It does make it look like it was because they live in the same area as the supreme court judge. It's hard for me to swallow any other reason because that would apply to any judge in this state. Maybe it's just the way I'm looking at it, but if it's wrong to "judge" the daughter, why wouldn't it be wrong to be friends and do other business with the Judge?

    I'm just thinking out loud- and trying to "get it". LOL!

    Although, I can see it if these judges knew each others' families and knew the daughter as she was growing up or something.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2009
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My daughter shoplifted when she was young and didn't even get arrested. The store manager called the cops, but the cops sent her home after talking to her and after she promised to return everything and apologize.
  12. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Judges are not to have any connection to the case. The subsitute judge was further from the case then the others.

    My brother in law is a state judge. He was on docket to try a 13 yr old in our town for killing an infant in the family daycare. He had to turn down the case because I worked with the dad of the 13 yr old. No way would my connection to the father and to brother in law have any influence on the case (brother in law does not discuss cases outside of work and would not ask my input because that would be wrong) but because it was a connection non-the-less, he had to excuse himself.

    Judges need to make the call if their connection to ANYONE on the case how ever remote by any level may appear to be controversial. Not that it is, but if someone would think it is. The judges that turned it down may not be close friends of the family but if it was in their jursidiction, they most likely are connected somehow either to the family OR the store owners/workers. There are so many more connections to consider than the girl and her parents. My being a co-worker to the dad disqualified my brother-in-law. It can go that far down in the effort to provide the most fair trial.

    They can not look at the plea that is being entered because that plea can be changed (or attempted to be changed) within the course of the trial. They are given the names of the parties involved and must decide on that alone if they should judge or not - they do not know the facts at that time and should not have access to what plea was enterred until they accept the case. It was not a matter of her plea, but that they knew her or a relative or friend of hers or could have been connected to the store. Maybe they knew the owner of the store then that would really look like unfair justice.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2009
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Im surprised it got so far as actual court. Well maybe not.

    Anyway...the visiting judge was the right thing to do in any event. This is basically the same thing as having an outside or another county CPS unit come in to investigate any allegations that are made against anyone who works for DSS in your county. That is what happened to me. When someone made an allegation against me, my county couldnt investigate me because their could have been links between me and people who worked in CPS, so to avoid that appearance of impropriety, another county did the investigation.
  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Andy makes a good point I hadn't thought of, about the association being with the store owner as a possibility.

    As far as judges working with other judges, that one doesn't add up to me because the father of the daughter is a supreme court judge- meaning he gets cases fromo all over the state. They would have to get someone from outside the state to get out of his jurisdiction and I don't think they can do that.

    Anyway, I personally wouldn't have thought anything about it if a "typical" judge had heard the case as long as the daughter got a typical sentence. I understand about recusing themselves for personal knowledge though- difficult child's arraigning judge said he could never actually hear difficult child's trial portion of a case because they have a mutual connection, and that made sense. He told everyone so there would be no question about it.
  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I got caught shoplifting at age 20. Long story which I wont go into now cause its not relevant. I had no other convictions on my record. This happened in Richmond or...ummm Chesterfield County to be exact. I was given a summons and told to appear in court. I was convicted and given 30 days suspended and had the same thing happen...if I didnt get into anymore trouble for one year, my conviction would be erased. That is known as something. I cannot for the life of me remember what it is called but it is a form of plea that you can make like one time. The wording is escaping me right now. Its not nolo contendre. I just cant remember. Sigh.