Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why Citizens Must Hold Judges Accountable

Because Only In Rare Moments Does Anyone Else

video


Samplings Of Recent Stories:

Hartford Courant
On Berserk Judge @ PD


Repeatedly using vulgar and racial insults, [Connecticut] Superior Court Judge E. Curtissa Cofield argued with a police officer — addressing him as "Negro trooper" at one point — who was trying to process her on a charge of drunken driving in Glastonbury last October, a police video released Monday shows.

Cofield also is heard twice on the video using the racial term "n-----."

The state's Judicial Review Council released the video Monday after it found cause to pursue five judicial misconduct charges against her, several of them based on what was termed disparaging, demeaning or "racially inappropriate" language.

  • Hartford Courant


  • --

    Hartford Advocate
    On Legislature's Lame Review

    One Senator Stands Up:
    At least one lawmaker was swayed by the comments. State Sen. Ed Meyer, a Branford Democrat who voted against Judge Swords' confirmation, said he was ready to brush off the attorneys' comments until the head of the association swore under oath to their authenticity. "I felt that sworn testimony validated the authenticity of these letters," Meyer said.


    Faceless Accusers
    Judges up for new terms
    get blog-style blowback
    from anonymous defense lawyers
    — and lawmakers throw a fit

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009
    By Andy Bromage

    The written comments trashing Judge James P. Ginocchio are pretty harsh. They come from criminal defense lawyers who proffer first-hand accounts and hearsay as evidence that Ginocchio is widely disliked as a jurist.

    And they're all anonymous.

    "This guy is out of control and is a nut job," writes one nameless attorney. "I have also seen him threaten to put 19 year old kids in jail for smoking marijuana."

    "I'm hearing some pretty bad things about him through the grapevine," writes another. "I have some judge friends and in confidence they have told me that he is pretty well-hated by the judges he works with in Bridgeport."

    These aren't rants posted on some random lawyers' blog. They're official submissions to the state legislature from the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, who asked its members for feedback on state judges up for re-appointment. Judges come up for new terms every eight years and this year they're facing some blog-style blowback from defense lawyers who try cases in their courtrooms.

    For the first time, the CCDLA has supplied members of the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee with anonymous comments on state judges made by dozens of criminal defense lawyers in letters, voicemail messages and a members-only listserv.

    The packets arrived at the Legislative Office Building in big cardboard boxes on the opening day of the session and were distributed to lawmakers ahead of last week's confirmation hearings.

    Only one lawyer personally testified about any of the 17 judges up for reappointment. In remarks widely carried in the mainstream media, Jon Schoenhorn spoke out against Superior Court Judge Patricia Swords for her merciless courtroom manner — like refusing to postpone a case even when the primary defense lawyer was hospitalized after a seizure.

    Not publicized were the dozens of anonymous comments about Swords and other judges weighed by lawmakers deciding whether to remove them from the bench.

    One lawyer called Swords "very harsh; a royal pain in the ;" Another likened her approach to sentencing to "a knife to the gut ... twisted, back and forth, back and forth."

    Swords hung onto her job by a thread, but another batch of judges come up for confirmation hearings next month — and by the looks of the comments, a few of those should be just as controversial.

    The vast majority of the comments are positive — glowing even — but lawmakers from both parties are still irate that judges would be criticized anonymously.

    State Sen. John Kissel, an Enfield Republican, compared it to McCarthyism. Republican Senate Minority Leader John McKinney called the nameless defense attorneys "cowardly." Democratic Senate President Don Williams warned the practice would hasten a "slide into tyranny."
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  • 1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    So- we may possibly deal with some judges. The fact is however, the judges have some accountability by having to go before the legislature every few years. What are you going to do about the corruption with those who occupy the administrative offices? The people there never ever have to answer to anyone and if you think going up against a judge is bad, just try going up against the non-judge administration. Even when the press did, the solution was to have a committee for the press and just check out those on the fire brigade of that media committee.