Those (few) of you who read this blog consistently know how furious I was when Judge Eileen O'Connor of Broward County put a young kid in jail for four months for allegedly lying about his criminal record. (previous posts here and here.)
Well now the judge has backed off even further, not only releasing him but also lifting the curfew she had imposed.
The actions of both Judge O'Connor and the prosecutor in this case were absolutely reprehensible. They actually targeted the kid and ran his record which it's important to note ISN'T A CRIMINAL RECORD. In fact, in the two times the kid was arrested, the prosecution declined to file charges. So how the hell is anyone entitled to ask you about something where you haven't even had the chance to clear your name? It's outrageous. In fact it's so outrageous that it makes me wonder whether the fact that Stacy (the kid who showed up for jury duty only to be jailed) is African American has anything to do with this. I don't cry race often, but I have real doubts about whether the prosecutor and judge would have done what they did if the kid was white.
Now it's true that I have strong feelings about this particular issue because of my own showdown with Judge Bamberger over over jailing a juror, but no matter how you slice it, this is bad judicial conduct.
The has gotten a fair bit of coverage, but I'm returning to it for three reasons: First because of the news hook above, second because I wanted to highlight this nice piece in the Miami Herald, headlined:Jury duty was real hard time for teen
It reads, in pertinent part..
"On March 22, the day of his jury summons, Stacy Forbes donned his best button-down and wore dark slacks. 'Here's a young kid excited to do his civic duty,'' said Coleen Forbes. 'He never said, `Mom, how can I get out of it?
Her son regrets that now.
He lost his job at a dollar store. He spent his first night scared and in tears. He talks of merciless teasing by the inmates -- his crime carried no bragging rights in jail."
It’s just awful.
Finally, I’m returning to this because I wanted to link to the petition below:
Now let's be clear. I don't believe in recalling judges over decisions they make. I think that more often than not that tactic is used by the right to intimidate judges who suppress evidence or impose lenient sentences (no matter how proper under the law or the facts such a decision might be) So in principle I am against this sort of tactic. That being said, I am tempted to think that if there were the same hue and cry over injustices like this as there was over other judicial decisions, we'd all be a lot better off.
So I haven't decided whether or not to sign, but I'll provide the link in case you have and you want to.
Recall Judge O'Connor: