Sunday, April 08, 2007
DIARY OF A MAD JURIST
Rumpole, I was reading that lawyers are already placing their names in opposition to Judges that are scheduled for election in September 2008. By my calculation, that is 16-17 months before the election.
I wonder if this has a chilling effect on the judiciary?
Do you think a Judge might be inclined to rule differently in a high profile case knowing he/she has opposition? Just a thought. Perhaps there could be a rule not even opening the process until 6-8 months before the election. They could let a lawyer file an intention to run (thus allowing them to raise money) without requiring the lawyer to state specifically who they are running against. Anyway, this is all about names and money. We all know a judicial election is not about ability. Perhaps they could devise a "Bar Exam" for anyone who wants to be a Judge and for Judges who are up for re-election. Then the Herald could post the scores. Of course, being a Judge is about more than book smarts.
Tell me Rumpole, are things so bad out there? Is that why so many people want to be a Judge?
There has got to be a better way to do this. But I have no idea how.
I was glad to see there was some discussion of my post on Federal Judges. That whole situation needs to get better in a hurry.
I was also glad to see your support of the 11th Circuit Historical Society. There were some wonderful Judges in the past, and some real colorful characters. I saw some pictures of Judges from the Old Municipal Court, and boy did that bring back memories. Yet time marches on, and most of those dear souls are no longer with us.
Ever just sit and stare at the REGJB? Wonder about all of the life changing moments that have gone on in the courtrooms (and back hallways) of our wonderful building? The triumphs. The tragedies. You know what gets me the most? The drug trafficking cases of the 1980's. I am not coming out in favor of legalizing drugs. I have seen close-up the devastating effects of drugs on Miami. Yet, I remember some of those trials where clearly the small fish were being tried on the 15 year minimum mandatory cases. The anguish in the faces of the families of some of those men -who obviously made horrible choices- as they were sentenced; sometimes, for no reason at all, I will remember one of those sentencings.
See, here's the kicker: from up close, the war on drugs in the 1980's was all about money. The defense attorneys got rich. The police departments made a fortune in seizures, overtime, federal spending. Some drug dealers at the top made millions. And the poor people in the ghettos got high and fell apart, and every now and then we lost a great cop like Scotty Rakow from Miami Beach on some drug sting that was not worth it. Now what I mean by that is not that Officer Rakow was not dedicated to his job, or that his job was not important. What I mean is that he was killed in a drug sting that was one of a hundred or a thousand that used to go down every year in this country. Nothing's changed. We still have a drug problem.
I hope that whatever comes out of the 11th Circuit Historical Society includes some history on the brave officers who died working for the citizens of Miami. Their story is part of our story and deserves to be told.
Anyway, sorry to end on such a morbid note.