The Right To Judge

Wilmington, NC

 StarNews                                                      08/13/2010

Letter to Editor:

In the article, “Who has the right to Judge”, by Leonard Pitts he makes the point that a judges personal circumstance does not invalidate their ability to pass judgment on issues – even when those issues may impact the judge personally. He challenges those who claim that a supposed homosexual judge (who overturned California’s Prop 8) is biased in favor of homosexual rights. Mr. Pitts writes, “… that reasoning would require women judges to recuse themselves from cases with women plaintiffs, Jewish judges to abandon cases with Jewish defendants, white judges to leave cases tried by white lawyers.” 

I am curious then how Mr. Pitts views the NC Racial Justice Act that requires investigations of bias in sentencing? From the “Sentencing Law and Policy” blog:

“Under the terms of the Racial Justice Act in 2009, convicts can use statistical evidence to argue bias in their sentencing. The law allows judges to consider evidence that one racial group is being punished more harshly than members of other racial groups.”

Which is it Mr. Pitts? Can a white jury judge a black defendant or a black jury judge a white defendant? Can a male jury judge a female defendant or heterosexual jury judge a homosexual defendant. Or, based on your past writings, is it only bias when a black defendant is on trial? Consider what Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in 2001. “Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. … I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.”

I love that line: “Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see.” Facts that judges choose to see. Never mind the whole truth, here’s what I want to see.

 So, Mr. Pitts, is it truly unreasonable to expect a homosexual judge will in fact be biased when ruling on a case involving presumed homosexual rights? And, if not, then justify the NC Racial Justice Act. Either we are all capable of bias or none of us are, right?

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