With that in mind we turn our attention to....NBA BASKETBALL!!!!!. HA HA. Just kidding.
Lets look at a subject most of us try to avoid: SENTENCING.
With a new batch of judges in the REGJB, attorneys will have to again create a new calculus for each judge when advising a client about how to proceed.
"Does this judge have a particular known dislike of a particular crime?" an attorney must ask themselves.
More importantly, how does the judge handle sentencing?
Some judges avowedly treat a trial as a gamble. "Win you go home, lose you get slammed." These judges are open and notorious about this "policy" and when the time comes for sentencing they don't really want to hear any arguments for leniency. They essentially let you know in no uncertain terms that you were aware of the rules of the game, you played the game and you lost.
This attitude is of course abhorrent to the principles of justice and antithetical to just about every principle of being a good judge, including judicial ethics. However, since many judges adhere to this philosophy, we invite them to put their money where their mouth is and defend it here on the pages of this blog. Anything you write will be published in its entirety.
UPDATE: FIRST RESPONSE BELOW.
We've all been in chambers, "off the record" when the judge has made the implicit or explicit threat about the consequences of an adverse jury verdict. We've all heard about the judges who want to assume the mantle of "maximum" worn so proudly by Judge Ellen Morphonios for so many years in the REGJB. And although we disagreed then and now with Judge Morphonios's philosophy about sentencing, she was one judge who would not shy from the discussion. Hypocritical she was not. She also uniformly gave your client about the fairest trial in the building.
So how about it all you "wannabe Morphonios" robed readers? Who wants to defend the Las Vegas style of trials? As Rocky said in the beginning of the movie when he was collecting money, "You wanna dance...you gotta pay the band. You borrow money....you gotta pay the man."
Have at it.
ps. This is not some liberal plea for more lenient sentencing. Some people do bad things and need to be punished. Society needs to be protected. This is about judges who abandon their responsibilities at sentencing and become human calculators, totaling the highest possible sentence and then imposing it.
FIRST JUDICIAL RESPONSE? from the comments section, copied here in its entirety:
As a judge, I believe that no one should be sentenced to a large number of years unless they committed a crime that hurt other people, commtitted a violent crime or are repeat offenders of the worst kind. Of course, sentencing requires a consideration and balancing of the four reasons for punishment, i.e., rehabilitation, deterrence, retribution and incapacitation. Sentencing also requires consideration of all the statutory factors.
If a defendant is offered probation before trial and you, as the judge, believe that probation would be a fair sentence, you should sentence the defendant to probation after the trial. I have done that many times. When a judge sentences a repeat offender (a real one, not one who is just technically a repeat offender), that's a different story. The judge gets to see that rehabilitation has not worked so far and no one has been deterred with light sentences. Inadvertently, that judge arrives at a conclusion that a heavy sentence is required to punish the defendant and, more importantly, to incapacitate the defendant. This is especially true of defendants who have already been to prison for a similar crime and continue to victimize other people.
I believe that sentencing is the most difficult thing we do. It is the most troubling aspect of being a judge. Many times I have had a good lawyer and a family convince me to give a lower sentence because they have been honest and realistic. I highly respect all those lawyers who know how to handle moments like that.
I hope we can all use this forum as a respectful sounding-board to discuss matters like this one today. As judges, we do not get much feedback from the lawyers.
Rumpole briefly notes, in response to the last line, it is hard as an attorney to engage a Judge in a conversation about sentencing while respecting the rules of ethics. We of course cannot talk about pending cases we have, and it seems awkward to bring up a past sentence because, at least I feel this way, the Judge has a right to tell me to mind my own business.