The following is a transcript from Judge Spencer Eig’s division. (Welcome to the blog Judge Eig) Some of the names have been removed by Rumpole to protect the innocent. The transcript has been edited in that much of the proceedings have been removed. However, no words have been added. The words below are as they appear in the entire transcript that was emailed to us. The transcript was emailed to us by someone who was NOT a party to this case. We have no idea how or why they obtained this transcript.
CRIMINAL DIVISION JUDGE SPENCER EIG
CASE NO. F07-7312
STATE OF FLORIDA,
The above-entitled case came on for hearing before the Honorable JUDGE SPENCER EIG,
Judge of the above-styled court at the Metropolitan Justice Building, at 1351 Northwest 12th Street, Miami, Florida, 33125, on September 25, 2007…
THE COURT: Good morning to you all.
FAMILY MEMBER: Good morning.
THE COURT: Are you relatives of Mr. Starling?
FAMILY MEMBER: Yes, Sir.
THE COURT: What is your name?
FAMILY MEMBER: My name is
_________. I am his sister. That is my father, ------------, --------his baby's mother and ------- Starling, his baby.
THE COURT: Good morning, Baby. What is your name?
FAMILY MEMBER: ------ --------
THE COURT: Were you and Mr. Starling living together?
FAMILY MEMBER: Yes.
THE COURT: Mr. Starling, were you living with Ms. ----?
THE DEFENDANT: Off and on. We resided together. But the conditions of my probation I had to stay at my father's house, you know.
THE COURT: Is there a special condition of Mr. Starling's probation that he live with his father?...
THE CLERK: No.
THE COURT: Mr. Starling, you are getting old. How old are you?
THE DEFENDANT: 21.
THE COURT: You have child a there.
THE COURT: Is that your child?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes. That was my child… (there is a discussion of the defendant’s other cases and whether there is a stay away order prohibiting the defendant from living with the mother of his child.)
THE COURT: Do you want to get back to go with
Mr. Starling? Or do you want a stay away order or what do you want?
FAMILY MEMBER: No. I don't want A stay away order.
THE COURT: Anyway, Mr. Starling, we have this thing. I don't know how to describe it except for thing that our state and really our own country have established people who show they want to make a commitment to the future and be a productive member of society. This thing is called marriage. Some people all it an institution. They also call it Dade County Jail Institution. (Rumpole notes, we consider the comparison of jail and marriage to be an apt way of determining the virtues of marriage. And jail for that matter.)
It is not like that. If you indicated to me that you wanted to make a commitment to the future, that you have Ms. --- here and you wanted to make her Mrs. Starling. What is the baby's name?
THE COURT: And make a commitment to this family unit that I am seeing here in front of you, this is something I would place a great deal of respect for. I would release you today, and you know you can come back in the future and deal with whatever issues there are. You would have a lot to bring to the table. Living some place else. This is my baby mama. And this is a very loose relationship that could be here one day and gone tomorrow, you are not bringing anything to the table. I am not trying to force you. You have to enter into marriage voluntarily. And it is something you all need to discuss as a family that that is the best way to proceed. So what I am going to do today is release you on your own recognizance. I am going to temporarily add that you participate in a domestic violence class as a part of your probation. So that whatever occurred in the past, you will start to get the tools to deal with whatever situations raise without getting into trouble for it. And you know and Ms--- and your family can decide what kind of a future that you all want to have together. That is up to you all. We can come back for a charge, and we will see what is going on with that. There is, you know, a lot of people who think they couldn't get married. To get married they have to have money for a house and a big wedding and all of that kind of stuff. It is not true. It is not true at all. (Rumpole notes that Judge Eig has not been dating the same women we have dated. Money and a big house have EVERYTHING to do with marriage in our milieu.) People can make a commitment to the future and not necessarily have the whole thing all at once, but build it. Build it brick by brick. So we will set the case for report on the affidavit for October 26th. I will ROR you today. We will add the domestic violence referral, as soon as possible. And I wish you and the whole family the best of luck in the future.
Rumpole notes: Good intentions, bad execution. One cannot fault the judge for trying to impose some lifetime wisdom and experience in this matter. Lord knows the problems of absentee fathers has wrecked havoc with this generation of children. The statistics are there, check them out. BUT, there is something just WRONG with a judge releasing someone from jail, holding a probation violation affidavit over their head, telling them to return, and making sure they understand in no uncertain terms how favourably the court would view the nuptials of the defendant and the mother of his child.
There is an element of coercion present for one thing, no matter how much Judge Eig tried to avoid it. For another thing, there is an element of equal protection. Can a Defendant who lives an alternative lifestyle and is gay expect the same fair treatment from a Judge who is family oriented?
Judges who put themselves into the lives of young defendants and require them to finish high school or get a GED, and remain drug and alcohol free are doing great work. And a Judge who made inquiry about child support in a matter similar to this would also be within the bounds of propriety in nudging a defendant to meet their responsibility to their family. But in our view, despite the very best intentions of Judge Eig, we do not think it is proper for a Judge to be encouraging anyone to get married. And while we admit a healthy aversion to the institution of marriage, there are bigger issues at play here beyond our own fears of commitment.
See you in court, and not in a Chapel getting hitched anytime soon.