Let's say you're a judge whose court docket is clogged with cases where the defendants face a maximum penalty of $100 with no jail time. These cases are really getting you down. After all, the golf courses are 'a calling.
What do you do? Well, you might think to yourself: "These guys don't got no lawyers. Let's really screw 'em over." Thus, you set bail at $25,000 to get these rag bags to cop a plea.
Hey, that's what one now-ex-judge did. Via the New York Law Journal comes the story of ex-judge Henry Bauer:
The 39 misconduct charges upheld against Bauer essentially fell into two categories: more than two dozen cases where the commission found that the judge set excessive bail and several cases where he failed to advise defendants of their right to counsel. In general, Bauer was accused of abusing his bail discretion to coerce guilty pleas from unrepresented defendants.
One case cited by the commission and Court involved a man who was charged with a violation for riding his bicycle on a sidewalk without the appropriate lights. Even though the maximum penalty for that offense was a small fine, Judge Bauer sent the man to jail for seven days in lieu of $25,000 bail, records show.
Bauer, obviously part of the "personal resonsibility" crowd blamed a vast ACLU conspiracy for waging against conservative judges like him. Yup Mr. Bauer (how's that sound, Your Unholiness?) that's gotta be it. After all, conservatism means never having to say, "Excessive Bail Clause." Do not see, Amendment VIII ("Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.")
Unfortunately, New Yorkers have it bad for two reasons. The first batch of bad news comes from this story:
Bauer received support from the community at large as well as the legal community. Prominent, well-respected legal minds, including County Court Judge Patrick McGrath and Supreme Court Judge Thomas Keegan, testified on his behalf.
Well, who can blame someone for loving a hanging judge? Of course, I don't wanna hear you whine when your neck is in the noose.
Secondly, its highest court split 4-3 on whether Tyrant Bauer should be removed for life.
Let's see...a judge willfully ignores a citizens constitutional rights for at least three years. He tosses people in the slammer (where they risk getting gang-raped, losing their job, and getting evicted from their apartments) even though the statute does not call for jail time. Do not see Federalist No. 78 ("The courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they should be disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGMENT, the consequence would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body.")
Would any law student pass his Legal Ethics law school course if he said that such a judge should not be removed from the bench? Expect more bad things from New York...
(Story via HaikuEsq).