Friday, December 31, 2021

Robed In Secrecy

Core to the United States is the idea that we have three branches of government, the executive, the legislative and the judiciary, working in a way that provides a check and balance system to ensure no one branch has too much power. That is the theory anyway. In practice it doesn't always work that well. 

Judges have almost all the power in court. Usually they can get away with blatant discrimination, favoritism and even, as my case shows, openly rewarding crime. 

But once in awhile even judges go too far. One judge who went way too far is Michael F. McGuire from New York

That wasn’t his only concerning behavior, according to an ethics complaint filed in 2018 by a state watchdog agency, which accused McGuire of berating court staff members; making “undignified” comments, such as suggesting that people in his court would date a “drug dealer” or a “slut”; presiding over cases in which his impartiality could be called into question; and representing family members and friends in personal cases. The watchdog agency, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, said he “lacked candor” during its investigation.

McGuire was removed from the bench. But that was his only punishment. Indeed, he went from the bench right into the position of county attorney. I am not surprised. 

Misconduct findings are rare in the judicial complaint process. Legal ethics experts say the minuscule share of judges punished every year isn’t necessarily indicative that all is well in the judiciary — it suggests a lack of accountability.

Sadly the only thing unusual about McGuire is that he was caught. Judges, like lawyers in general, are rarely disciplined for misconduct or criminal actions they commit. Which only serves to attract the very people who should never be judges to the bench. 

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