Saturday, February 28, 2009
JUDGE CUETO RECONSIDERED?
The comments to yesterday's post about Judge Cueto's actions at bond hearing are almost unanimous in support of Judge Cueto.
After hearing that Judge Cueto refused to lower a bond, a fifteen year old girl cursed and stormed out of the courtroom. Cueto called for the police, hit the panic button, had the family brought back into court and screamed at them and demanded they apologize.
The comments applauded Judge Cueto for not putting up with the rude behavior, and for making the girl apologize. The comments support Judge Cueto for pondering whether life in prison would be appropriate for someone who sold cocaine.
Perhaps in light of these comments we need to re-evaluate our position.?
Perhaps WE should be the one apologizing to Judge Cueto?
Rumpole replies: NEVER!
What Judge Cueto did is what we all want to do. And perhaps what Judge Cueto did is what needed to be done. Someone needs to grab this little ruffian and shake some common sense into her.
But not a Judge, in court, during a first appearance.
And this is where all the commentators are wrong. They are mistaking what someone should do, with what a Judge should do.
The Judge's primary responsibility is to review the arrest affidavit, determine probable cause, and set a fair bond.
Judge Cueto did that.
The Judge's secondary responsibility is to give an appearance of fairness to the public. When Judge Cueto reviewed the arrest affidavit and spoke with the Defendant's mother, he did that.
Where Judge Cueto failed is in his response to the girl cursing. Re-watch the video. Watch the Judge explode and shake with rage. Watch him lose all control to the extent he tries to use a panic button for a situation that does not call for all security hands to rush to the courtroom.
Is this the type of person you want sentencing someone?
What we see is the Judge's personal frustrations coming to the surface.
Does he have an agenda against gang members who deal drugs, and against snotty teenagers that have no respect for anything?
Then he needs to resign and join the state attorneys office, or go work for the SAO or the PDs in the Juvenile courts.
His job is to remain in control of his temper and control the courtroom and rule fairly.
Read the Florida Supreme Court decisions admonishing Judges who are disrespectful to the public. The Supreme Court takes very seriously how the public views the judiciary. And for good reason. When we lose respect for Judges, we have lost respect for those we have elected or appointed because we believed they were among the rare few of us to be trusted with decisions of life and death over our fellow citizens.
Judge Cueto had a responsibility not to lose his temper and to control his courtroom, even assuming that what the girl needed was a good hard lesson in civics.
In the end result what do you think would help this girl more: some middle aged guy in a robe screaming at her, or a contempt hearing in which she is ordered to perform community service at the courthouse?
If the Judge really wanted to help this girl, he would have required her to spend a week with him in bond hearings and then write a paper for school about it.
There are a million ways this judge could have imposed order in his courtroom, and helped instill some respect in this girl for our legal system.
And there was one way he could have failed in all respects, and that is the way he acted.
I stand by my previous comment- until he demonstrates an ability to control his temper, Judge Cueto needs to apologize and he needs to be removed from criminal court.