We’ve been toying with a top to bottom evaluation of the Judges in our little building. Starting with the sixth floor and working our way down to two, we’ve been thinking of a way to encourage readers to talk about the good, the bad, and the judicial, in the REGJB.
However, while we work on perfecting a method for this, we open the discussion about Judge Butchko with a gentle reminder: there is more to any particular case than the result. Thus when a reader writes in to complain about a sentence judge Butchko gave in a particular case (see below) we must remember that there are more facts to the case then we currently have before us.
While we are immediately suspicious of any Judge who penalizes a defendant for going to trial and losing, there may very well have been good reasons for the sentence in the case discussed below. Because we don’t know the particulars, we merely ask that readers keep an open mind, keep the discussion civil (actually keep it criminal, but within the bounds of decency and blog rules) and for those who may know more, please write in and lets us know.
This comment started it all:
Yesterday Butchko sentenced a PD client to 15 years for a strong arm robbery. Prior to trial the offer was CTS. The defendant had no priors, and the facts were that he punched a guy and took off on his bicycle. period. After trial the state attorney asked for 10 years (bad form to offer cts then ask for 10), mostly because he is afraid of Butchko as she routinely refuses to accept their plea offers then calls KFR to complain they are being too lenient. Didn’t matter cause she maxed him anyway. Stan, Joe, Please get her out of the building!
(we edited out the last line which had a gratuitous expletive that didn’t really add anything to the discussion.)
And then this comment arrived:
Enough with the Butchko bashing! She's a phenomenal person and a wonderful judge. She's not afraid to do the right thing even if she knows that she may take a hit in the media and/or in the eyes of a demanding victim.Recently, she clearly displayed how extraordinary she is in a case involving a defendant who accidentally shot and killed his best friend right in front of the Miami Beach Police Department. I heard that the victim's family testified at the sentencing hearing and demanded the max, 30 years in prison, after the defendant pled to the manslaughter charge. Judge Butchko carefully listened to everyone, considered the mountains of mitigating evidence presented by the defense, and sentenced the defendant to community control and probation. Most judges wouldn't have had the courage to do that, even though it was the right decision. Any judge can max a defendant out. We don't want judges acting like robots. We need compassionate souls on the bench working diligently to make sure that the specific penalty fits the crime. Thank God we have judges like Judge Butchko! I would suggest that you re-direct your distain towards a few of the others in the courthouse who actually deserve the criticism.
So there you have it. Two cases, two disparate sentences, one Judge. We frown upon the allegation that the Judge calls the State Attorney to complain about prosecutors. If that is true we think there is no place for that among the Judiciary. Judge Rothenberg was said to have kept notes to instruct prosecutors on what they did wrong and how they could do a better job. That bespeaks of a Judge who is not impartial, and Judge Butchko, being a close friend of Judge Rothenberg, is liable to end up being painted with the same brush.
A judge should neither favour the defense nor the prosecution and any Judge who “roots” for one side needs to be removed, post haste.
See You In Court.