Tuesday, February 15, 2005

DRACONIAN PUNISHMENT FOR JUDGE DWI?

It is hard for me to understand the strength of feeling of so many members of the public, in the case of Judges accused of DWI. Take the case of the Socorro District Judge. They want the Judge prosecuted, and as punishment, even before conviction, they want the Judge suspended. As punishment, they want the Judge removed from the bench, and some even want the Judge to lose his retirement benefits.

I do not know the Judge personally; but he must be qualified, as he is an attorney, was cleared by the Governor and the electorate; and will have to continue to be cleared by the electorate. [That is every six years, which is two too long.] Let the people of that judicial district decide whether the Judge should remain. Meanwhile, he should be prosecuted just like any other citizen, and if found guilty punished appropriately. What is not appropriate is removal from office, nor loss of a retirement benefit worth perhaps several hundred thousand dollars to himself and survivor. Those are truly Draconian measures.

The public outcry resulted in our local presiding District Court Judge’s resignation and many call for him to lose his retirement benefits. Why? Why should the punishment for cocaine possession and DWI be loss of judicial position of 25 years and loss of a retirement benefit worth hundreds of thousands to yourself and your family? Let the voters decide, at the next retention election. Same with Ms. Shirley Baca, PRC. What a clamor for her resignation for possession of a small amount of marijuana and the pipe. Which hypocrite wants to throw the first stone? Why not let her be prosecuted for the weed offense, be punished, and go about her business to face the voters next election?

In the case of Judges, it is especially important that the accused, even if convicted, not be run out of office. Judges are important, and they are essential in a limited government system.
We have the means at hand to keep the Judge from drinking, if that is the appropriate punishment, or preventive measure. Put an ankle bracelet on him which reads his blood alcohol level through his skin. These devices are in use and have been proven workable and tamper proof. Or put an interlock device on all of his motor vehicles, if the goal is to prevent drinking and driving.

Require the Judge to recuse himself in criminal cases involving DWI. Let justice be done. Surely what he did, if he is guilty, was very dangerous, to himself and to hundreds of innocent people on the highways between Socorro and Santa Fe. Same deal with the thousand and more accused of DWI whose cases were dismissed in the Albuquerque area last year without trial on the merits. I do not intend to minimize the seriousness of the scourge of DWI. But let us not take out our frustrations with the criminal justice system by doing another injustice.

4 comments:

julcpr said...

Would you want a drunk judge on the bench who could sentence you to prison?

Jack L. Love said...

Answer. No, not if he was drunk the night before or on the day of sentencing. However, please see my blog of 17 February, written before I saw your comment. And thanks for the comment. jacklove

julcpr said...

Just read your bio. What in the world is "country Latin?" Is that anything like the Lea County Stomp??

Jack L. Love said...

My bio says nothing about Lea County, but indeed I was born and raised in Lovington. Never heard of the "Stomp," though. Country Latin is the music that you dance the one step to, with lots of swaying from side to side and pumping of the left arm (man). Like a country "Under the Double Eagle". jl