Patterico's Pontifications


Jena 6 Judge Removed

Filed under: Crime,Judiciary — DRJ @ 3:16 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The trial judge overseeing the Jena 6 cases has been removed for an “appearance of impropriety” arising from his comments that the defendants are “trouble makers” and “a violent bunch.”

The decision was made over the trial judge’s objections and was based on the defendants’ right to a “fair and impartial judge.”

This sounds like a good decision to me.


23 Responses to “Jena 6 Judge Removed”

  1. IGnoring the fact that the man wasnt exagerating, I have to agree with this decision…

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  2. But, was the judge wrong to have developed that opinion or was it just wrong to state that opinion? How long was he on the case before this statement was made? Who did he make the comment to? Was it made to the jury or was it just to the lawyers who would have know that he was telling the bald faced truth?

    Jay Curtis (8f6541)

  3. What’s more important is what Sharpton, Jackson and Obama think about the way these poor misunderstood yoots are treated by those crackers. Too many blacks are in jail. We need some sort of quota that reflects the general population’s specific incarceration sentences broken down by races. Either we start arresting more Caucasians whose transgressions are likely overlooked by law enforcement or release more black early from prison. I know I am probably right because my liberal friends explained that blacks are not sharing adequately in America’s bounty. Adequate raparations might ameliorate some of the inequality (I know its reparations, but best to coin terms more in tune with ebonics, hip hop and gangsta rap). My solution to where the money might come from is quite elegant. Little O man proposes that big Oil give each American $1000 from its windfall profits. You white supremacists could do without more cash as you are already flush from centuries of abusing minorities in the work place (women, blacks and gays). I suggest that Obama give the blacks $8000 each in oil money and zip to other races.

    madmax333 (0c6cfc)

  4. Max, you are truly mad…

    We can only hope, as this judge is pilloried for daring to speak the truth, that his replacement will keep his own counsel, but throw the book, bench, and the courthouse door at these poor, misunderstood, miscreants.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  5. A trial judge can form an opinion just as we all can but his opinion should be based on the facts presented to him in court. My understanding is that the judge made these statements even though there are trials pending for 5 of the 6 Jena defendants. The judge should not have formed an opinion as to the defendants who have not had trials, and if he does have an opinion then he should recuse himself.

    The 6th defendant, Mychal Bell, plead guilty in juvenile court. Bell’s attorney stated he would ask that this judge also be removed from Bell’s case so that he would not oversee the case during probation. I don’t know what will happen here. A judge can oversee probation in cases where he believes the defendant is guilty – in fact, the judge shouldn’t accept a plea or verdict if he doesn’t believe the defendant is legally guilty – but the fact that this judge appears to have a bias regarding these defendants may taint him as to the Bell case, too.

    DRJ (68f27b)

  6. Need I point out how incredibly racist y’all are ?

    JD (5f0e11)

  7. We have an excellent teacher.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  8. The truth must be kept secret until sentencing?

    Chris M. (834f0d)

  9. Judges have to keep an open mind.

    DRJ (68f27b)

  10. So if a judge actually has an opinion, and isn’t a wishy-washy dishrag, he gets disqualified? No wonder what we have left are judges who constantly shock us with leniency towards troublemakers.

    When judges cannot even be judgemental, then we have obviously reached the point of stupidity.

    martin (30db2b)

  11. IANALOJ, but I don’t think I want a judge to determine the guilt before the verdict is reached. Am I wrong in thinking this? Should judges express their opinion of guilt/innocence in the court?

    If I were a juror, I think I’d be swayed by what the judge says far more than what a lawyer says.

    steve miller (eba841)

  12. And Mr. Miller nails it.

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  13. What was that Scottish sitting on the fence rule that Arlen Specter espoused? Should we not consider what the UN and Eurotrash wants as far as human rights for our own citizens? The French are free-hearted enough to turn the other cheek when Muslim yoots went on the rampage and burned cars and assaulted police in hundreds of cities. Of course you liberal trolls would be blaming Bush if anything not even near that happened in US.

    This is a political incorrect anecdote for the Obama-asp kissers lurking here and is probably just as apropos to Nawlins, Chicago or Deeetroit City.
    The Fire:
    Did you hear about the fire in the three family walk up in Baltimore?
    A black family of six lived on the first floor. They all perished in the fire.

    A Mexican family of eight lived on the second floor. They also perished.

    A white couple lived on the third floor. They survived.

    Jesse Jackson demanded to know why the white couple survived when the others didn’t. The fire chief said the answer was simple. The white couple was at work when the fire broke out.

    And yes, I know there are good blacks and Mexicans and plenty of white trash, but even Jackson said he was relieved when white men approached him on the street and feared when young black males did. If you are on a plane, what would frighten you more- an octogenarian Swedish granny or some young male Muslims praising Allah?

    madmax333 (0c6cfc)

  14. Why should a judge be removed for thinking trash are trash, but praised for not having an opinion? This is part of the left’s continued assault on reason.

    martin (30db2b)

  15. martin,

    As I said earlier, judges can have opinions. The point is that they can’t have opinions until they’ve heard the evidence.

    It’s not fair to prejudge every Jena 6 defendant based on the testimony at 1 defendant’s trial. For instance, the first defendant may have an incentive to blame his co-defendants. And what if one of the boys has evidence that he didn’t participate? I don’t think a judge can fairly make decisions about any of the other 5 defendants until they each have the opportunity to defend themselves.

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  16. I wouldn’t mind that a judge has an opinion. (I suspect the judge in some cases has a reasonable judgment about the guilt/innocence.)

    But still, that judge (IMO) needs to put that aside so that the court tries the case. I don’t know how judging works. I don’t know how much a judge is swayed by his/her own feelings. I’d just hope that the swaying would be minimal.

    I don’t think this is fantasy. I hope it is something close to how it really works.

    And when a judge says something prejudicial, I’d hope that judge gets thrown off the case.

    I’ve served on several juries. One case that left a lasting impression was a lawyer who made the elementary observation that his client wasn’t merely in some neutral state between guilt and innocence, waiting to be proved one way or the other. Instead, his client was fully innocent unless that state proved him guilty. (NB: in this case, the client ended up pleading guilty just before the arguments before the court actually started, but I don’t think that takes away from the argument.)

    I’ve since served on juries where the state made a powerful argument about guilt, but I’ve remembered that – the state had to prove its side starting from full innocence to the defendant.

    That all gets thrown away if the judge starts out with a presumption of guilt.

    WRT this case, it’s a bad situation in Jena now made much worse by this bone-headed judge.

    steve miller (eba841)

  17. Well said, steve.

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  18. Seriously, I am still curious what the context was when these statements were made. I haven’t been able to find anything to answer that question.

    Do any of you know or have a link with more information?

    Jay Curtis (8f6541)

  19. Jay Curtis,

    The 5 defendants filed a motion to recuse the judge for bias and there was a hearing in late May 2008 that was heard by a judge that I think was appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court specifically for that purpose. This was the same judge who decided the trial court judge should be recused.

    The testimony was apparently from the attorneys for the defendants and, based on this report, concerned their pretrial conversations with the trial judge about the defendants’ cases. The report indicates the trial judge acknowledged making some of the statements but that he claimed he was “only trying to make sure defense attorneys were aware of all the information on their clients.”

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  20. While I agree with the Judge’s opinion, I also agree that he should be removed. It would be a waste of time to get a conviction that would be overturned. Judges owe all defendants at least the appearance of impartiality.

    Ken Hahn (7742d5)

  21. It’s not clear from the stories whether the pre-trial conversations were plea conferences. If they were, the judge’s removal is iffy. Defendants are admonished that the judge will learn things in order to intelligently accept or reject a sentence recommendation that the defendant would not want him to know if the case were to go to trial. I had a judge, a lenient judge, call my client “goofy” in a plea conference once. If this was a plea conference there is more than a little bit of an element of judge shopping in the defense’s motion.

    nk (e8a4f1)

  22. So the judge did not say it to the jurors.So then he was kicked off for not having a bias towards the defendants. After all, when 6 black punks beat the crap out of a white boy and then Jesse Jackson shows up, we all know we are supposed to be so stupid, so “nonjudgemental” that we assume that the black boys are innocent, which then means that the white boy must have been guilty.

    martin (30db2b)

  23. While I agree with the Judge’s opinion, I also agree that he should be removed. It would be a waste of time to get a conviction that would be overturned. Judges owe all defendants at least the appearance of impartiality.

    That’s about where I land on this. When you’ve got the likes of Mychal Bell in front of you and you’ve got his record to look at you can form the opinion that he’s a thug without forming the opinion that he’s guilty of a particular set of allegations. I’m not as familiar with the records of the other defendants, but if they’re kids with a history it isn’t unreasonable to form an opinion based on that and it doesn’t preclude a fair trial.

    That said, a wise judge would keep such an opinion to himself, and this guy has to go for his failure to exercise such discretion.

    Pablo (99243e)

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