I'm a Judge and I Think Criminal Court Is Horrifying
I love going to court.
There is drama. There is pathos. It is the place I go, as a bankruptcy judge for the Southern District of New York, to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States, and to administer justice "without respect to persons."
So when my daughter, a public defender, asked me to accompany her to observe a day of arraignments in Bronx Criminal Court one Sunday, I jumped at the opportunity. A busman's holidaygoing to court on a Sunday! I assumed it would all be very familiar, similar to what I do and see every day, except maybe with a bit more of a Law and Order vibe.
I was shocked at the casual racism emanating from the bench. The judge explained a "stay away" order to a Hispanic defendant by saying that if the complainant calls and invites you over for "rice and beans," you cannot go. She lectured some defendants that most young men "with names like yours" have lengthy criminal records by the time they reach a certain age.
One young man's arraignment was particularly unnerving: The ADA noted that the defendant's "street name" is "Guns and Butter," and then proceeded to refer to the young man not as "the defendant" or by his given name, but rather as "Mr. Guns and Butter." The judge made a thinly veiled attempt to hide her giggles, while the court officers made no attempt whatsoever to subdue their outright laughter.
The low point of the dayliterallycame when a young man, obeying the court officer's order to put his hands behind his back as he stood before the judge, did as he was told, and his pants dropped to his ankles. Once the court officers caught their breath from laughing, they barked at him, "Where is your belt?" Of course, it was taken from him in the lockup, he said.
So much more:
Is Judge Chapman going to put in an official report to whomever? Right now it appears to be just a story on line.
always knew that but as of late i have seen up close a couple examples where is was plain and obvious.
couple that with experience i have had on jury duty years ago....NO faith in the legal system
It's certainly.not a secret that justice is far too racist and unfair for POC but its good its getting aired by a fellow justice.
Good OP. Thanks for this
I've not liked this for a long time. I have no idea why judges in criminal cases think that it is their job to verbally shame defendants or even people who are convicted. Their punishment is their sentence, not the words of the judge.
It's even more cruel when you factor in that some folks who get convicted, or plead guilty are innocent and have their convictions overturned and the actual guilty party is found. What was the point of the judge's verbal attacks on the individual in cases like that.
I am glad a fellow judge spoke out.