We start with these simple rules:
1) An attorney running for judge should be qualified and have extensive jury trial experience. Why?
The court system is swamped with cases. In criminal court the ever increasing scope of minimum mandatory sentences is forcing cases to trial that in the past would have been settled. Only an attorney who has been on the winning and losing side of dozens of trials has the experience to understand what a trial requires, what the trial lawyers are doing, and why they are doing it.
We not so fondly recall the newly elected Judge who had not tried many cases in a failed career as a private attorney. The prosecution sought to introduce a document and we stood up and asked for voire dire. The Judge responded that we had used the wrong term, as the jury had already been selected.
2) An attorney running against a Judge must further articulate why the Judge needs to be replaced. What about the Judge- demeanor, work habits, etc., necessitates that the Judge be replaced?
We have already emailed several candidates privately where we explained that running merely because gender, race, or name gives the candidate a favorable chance of winning is abhorrent, as it diminishes the quality of the Judiciary.
Judges like Martin Khan, Hank Harnage, and Harvey Goldstein were victims of this and we have all suffered for it.
3) A Judge should articulate the experience, work habits, demeanor on the bench towards clients and counsel that would support the conclusion that the Judge should be re-elected.
4) A Judge should impose a just sentence, not a sentence that the public wants, or the police demand , or the defense requests.
We recall a very sad situation many years ago when the prosecution offered a Defendant 20 years on a second degree murder case. The case went to trial, and after the defendant was convicted Judge Moreno (when he was a state court judge) sentenced the defendant to about ten years based on the facts of the case. You don’t see things like that happening these days.Justice doesn’t always mean following the victim and arresting officer’s recommendation of “maximum sentence.”
5) Do judges berate defense attorneys for not filing motions to compel discovery or motions for continuances early enough? Do Judges take counsel out of turn? (and this includes prosecutors who also have several courtrooms to be in).
6) Do Judges interfere in voire dire, cross examination and then give each side ten minutes for closing arguments?
7) Do Judges routinely expect all parties (including court personnel like clerks, corrections, and court reporters) to start at 8:00 AM, work through lunch, and work to 7:00 or 8:00 PM or beyond?
Nothing, and we mean nothing speaks louder about the blatant stupidity of a Judge then when they brag about how they tried a DUI in one day and had the attorneys do closing arguments at 11:00 PM, and sent the jury out at midnight. These Judges some how think that gives them some sort of “macho” reputation. All it does is deprive both sides of a fair trial, and make jurors disgusted with their service.
8) Do Judges absolutely refuse to engage in plea negotiations, even when it is obvious to everyone that an inexperienced prosecutor is taking advantage of a situation but the Judge will not step into correct it? We saw one new County Court Judge on the day of trial for a DWLS case refuse to do anything when the defendant had obtained a valid license, had two prior convictions, and the third conviction would result in a loss of license for five years, and the prosecutor (about 1 month on the job) refused to do anything other than obtain a conviction.
9) Do Judges understand the law? If we see one more Judge tell an unrepresented defendant that a withhold is not a conviction, we are going to scream. HEY JUDGE- A WITHHOLD IS A CONVICTION UNDER MANY CIRCUMSTANCES, including loss of license for a DWLS, and FOR PURPOSES OF IMMIGRATION AND DEPORTATION. STOP TRICKING DEFENDANTS INTO PLEADING GUILTY.
This is where we are starting. We invite our readers to provide other criteria and to start emailing us (we said email not post) on who we should endorse and why.
(please make cheques payable to “CASH” and leave with the Cuban coffee person at Au Bon Pain in a plain manila envelope marked “BRIBE FOR RUMPOLE”.)
See You In Court.