Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Good News and Bad News.
There is news this morning. It is good news and it is bad news. Since I believe that bad news is sometimes ameliorated and cushioned a bit by good news. I will deal with the Bad News first.
In today's New York Times I found an article about a sitting Judge for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which sits in Houston, among other places, and handles appeals from the judgments of the district courts of Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana which comprise the Fifth Circuit. You can read the article here. The judge in question is Edith Jones who has been on the Fifth Circuit bench since she was first nominated by President Ronald Reagan at the end of February 1985. She was confirmed by the US Senate thirty five days later on April 3, 1985. That is a most interesting fact since President Obama's nominees have waited sometimes almost two years before receiving the advice and consent of the Senate and taking up their judicial duties. In some cases the senate has refused to vote on his nominees altogether because 'filibusters' could not be broken.
Judge Jones recently made a speech in Pennsylvania before a meeting of the Federalist Society in which she asserted that black and Latino Americans were more predisposed to commit crimes than their caucasian peers and that the death penalty was a good thing because it prodded the soon to be executed to make their peace with god. She also stated that claims of mental retardation by criminal defendants (mostly people accused of capital offenses) were an abuse of the justice system. She commented that the SCOTUS decision in Atkins vs Virginia (2002) 536 US 304 which held that the imposition of the death penalty on the “mentally retarded” violated the Eighth Amendment's proscription against 'cruel and unusual punishments'. She said the case was wrongly decided. That is easy to say about any case. You just have to say it. Now Judge Jones is certainly as entitled to opine that cases decided by SCOTUS were wrongly decided as any lawyer, judge or citizen is. My problem with the comment is that it shows a mindset that believes the society has the unfettered right to dispose of its detritus (as defined by either majority opinion or by loud and raucous minority opinion) by gassing, poisoning, shooting, hanging or any other way. She does not seem to care that capital punishment is un-fixable when wrongly imposed. Any trial lawyer (which she was not) will tell you one of the greatest tasks in trying a case to a jury is to overcome societal prejudice against certain types of defendants (and the crimes they have been alleged to have committed), especially when prosecutors have previously tried those cases in the media. Additionally Judge Jones for years has been criticized for her demeanor and her open criticism and ridicule of lawyers and litigants who come before her court. She has even told her fellow judges sitting in review of the same case to “shut up.” She apparently is no one's favorite judge. Nor is she a model of judicial temperament and certainly cares nothing for the judicial canon commanding her to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Complaints have been filed against her with the current Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit. If nothing else Judge Jones is distasteful and perhaps her remarks and her beliefs deserve investigation by the House Judiciary Committee with a view towards filing Articles of Impeachment against her for failure to engage in “good behaviour.”
Now for the good news. I want to share with my readers (aren't I presumptuous) the blog of a friend of mine, Robbie. That blog can be found at www. Cutegayboy.com. Robbie is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is also Poz or more clearly living with the fact that he has been infected with the HIV virus. He posts about politics, geek stuff and HIV. He is thoughtful and articulate and deserving not just of a read but of a bookmark. Welcome to the Gathering, Robbie. Enjoy writing, discussing and good faith arguments for and against various propositions. I enjoy your writing and I hope others will too.