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Old 09-12-2019, 03:55 PM
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Should we hold judges personally accountable for their rulings?


An interesting development has happened in the saga of Brock Turner the rapist. Aaorn Persky, the judge from that case who was eventually recalled by the electorate in the first recall election in a century, went on to get a job as a girl's tennis coach. Once parents realized that they had a judge who they considered pro-rape (lenient sentence in the Brock Turner case, allowing 'she had fun at a party a year later' as evidence that a rape victim wasn't traumatized in another), they opened a petition to have him fired as coach. Shortly after, the district severed ties with him (though they didn't call it a firing.)

A quote from the petition: "All athletic coaches have to be mandated reporters for harassment and abuse, and Persky’s language during the trial and decision to focus on supporting the rapist more than the survivor Chanel Miller has made it clear he does not respect the bodily autonomy of women and therefore cannot be an appropriate choice for our tennis coach. That is not the type of person our 14-16-year-old girls on the JV Sports team should have for a coach or mentor."

What's interesting to me is that I believe it is pretty unprecedented; typically unless judges engage in really egregious conduct like accepting bribes to throw cases, their rulings may get overturned on appeal but they aren't held personally accountable for what they do, even when it's patently awful. What do people think of this - is it reasonable for parents to be worried about putting a former judge who (in their eyes) has demonstrated more sympathy for the rapist than the rape victim in charge of coaching their female children? Or should the work of a judge be considered something separate from them personally?

Also, is this actually as unusual as I think it is, or are there other cases like this that I'm just not aware of?

Two articles for reference:

https://sfist.com/2019/09/11/recalle...ennis-parents/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sport...ok/2297795001/
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:13 PM
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What's interesting to me is that I believe it is pretty unprecedented; typically unless judges engage in really egregious conduct like accepting bribes to throw cases, their rulings may get overturned on appeal but they aren't held personally accountable for what they do, even when it's patently awful.
Judges in some places are not elected by the people so there is no real way for the public to hold an unelected judge directly accountable.
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What do people think of this - is it reasonable for parents to be worried about putting a former judge who (in their eyes) has demonstrated more sympathy for the rapist than the rape victim in charge of coaching their female children? Or should the work of a judge be considered something separate from them personally?
If it was a former cop, professional baseball player or FedEx delivery driver, those remarks on the public record would be fair for people to consider, right? Why should a judge have special dispensation to not have his public statements considered?
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:23 PM
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I think holding a judge somehow (how?) personally responsible would be a great way to make sure people don't want to be judges anymore.
I didn't read the links (yet), but based on what you wrote, the people are only angry that he gave Brock a sentence that was too lenient. The problem that I see, is that you're never going to please everyone. He gave Brock 6 months, and this happens. If he gave Brock 50 years, human rights/anti-jail groups would come after him and I don't think you'll ever find a good middle ground where everyone is happy.
The other possible issue I see is that judges will start handing out sentences that are longer that they really should be. If Brock should have had, say, 10 years in jail, maybe the judge will give him 15 years, just to be safe.

Having said all that, when I read your thread title I read it more as 'legally responsible' than should you be allowed to treat a judge poorly because you don't like the way they ruled. We do it everywhere else, right? Someone wears fur and they get paint thrown at them. A business owner makes health care insurance overly difficult for employees to get and we don't shop at their store. A judge doesn't give out enough jail time and he can't be a coach. To a certain extent, that can be a good way to 'fix the system' so to speak.

But legally responsible, no.
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:27 PM
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I would happily have signed a petition about his unsuitability as a coach/mentor for females of *any* age. You are correct that he seems particularly cavalier about the rape being inconsequential to the victim. If a girl were to go to him complaining about being groped by some guy in the locker room, would he dismiss her by telling her that he didn't leave any bruises, so it was no big deal? he didn't get his penis into her so nothing happened?

Big question, how would you like him working with your 12 year old daughter ... what would you think of your daughter having to go to him with any sort of problem involving her being assaulted?
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:30 PM
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In Utah, some years ago, there was a judge that berated an alleged poacher in court, and subsequently lost her job (in part for reducing a sex offender's sentence). That was an example of holding her personally accountable for her courtroom behavior and decisions.

I'd agree that it's rather rare for judges to suffer personal consequences.
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:33 PM
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Agreed. Legally responsible? No, of course not. Their job is to rule on the law. They should be protected - outside corrupt practices - from sanction while doing that.

But there's legal consequences and social consequences. If enough judges lose jobs coaching - or are generally social sanctioned for their rulings - then perhaps they're out of step with the times and it's a sign that laws may need some updating.
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:41 PM
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I hate to say "it depends," but it depends. There is such a thing as making a socially outrageous judgment that is legally correct - i.e,. "It is probable that this man did indeed murder this victim, but we simply couldn't reach the level of beyond-reasonable-doubt to convict, so I acquit him." (technically, that might be a jury's job but you get the point.) To socially punish a judge for doing this, is akin to a mob attacking a sports referee for making an unpopular but necessary call.

Now on the other hand, if a judge (or juror) issues a ruling that is egregious for egregious personal reasons, then I think that's fair game. i.e., "I rule in favor of defendant because he is white and male, and I like to uphold white male privilege."

What if the judge or jury is just more merciful than the public at large, and issues a lighter sentence than the public would like? I wouldn't like to see such judges or jurors punished unless it is utterly extreme.
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:43 PM
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Edit: It would also lead to a slippery slope, or be ripe for abuse. Imagine if, 80 years ago, a judge had ruled in favor of a black defendant and then been vilified by a racist white community for doing so. The whole point of judges and juries is that they should be as removed from public opinion or bias as possible - Lady Justice should be blindfolded.
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:54 PM
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Just chiming in to say the point is moot. Once those parents realized that they don't like him, the school has no choice in the matter. You can't force parents to put their kids under supervision of someone they don't like, especially for an elective after-school activity. It's either let the guy go or lose the girl's tennis team.

I would rather the state give him a new identity or just repeal judicial recall.

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Old 09-12-2019, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
I'd agree that it's rather rare for judges to suffer personal consequences.
I imagine a lot of that has to do with how few cases are so high profile. Out of the hundreds of thousands of cases that go through the court system in a year, how many do you hear about. Maybe 10 or 20 on the federal level? Another hundred or so on your local news that are in your state? There's probably plenty of controversial things going on in all those other cases no one outside of the courtroom ever hears about.

I'm sure, if you looked through all the other rape cases, Brock wasn't the only person to receive such a light sentence. We also have to remember that (at least IMO) we can't give someone a harsher sentence simply because their case has so much attention. I understand the idea of making an example out of someone (though I never much liked the concept), but hopefully a judge and jury aren't swayed by what's trending on social media.

PS, I realize this sounds like I'm defending the judge, that's not the case. 6 months may not have been enough, but you don't want it changed to 50 years (if it should be, for example, 10) simply because everyone on twitter is talking about it.
Luckily, the court of popular opinion will make his 'sentence' much, much longer.



ETA, I'm still curious why he thought, after a case like that, doing anything that involved the phrase 'all girls' would be a good idea. There's still plenty of options for him, but none of them should be around 'all girls'. Even if he knows he would never do anything wrong, he should still understand what people (and parents) are going to think.

Last edited by Joey P; 09-12-2019 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:13 PM
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... ETA, I'm still curious why he thought, after a case like that, doing anything that involved the phrase 'all girls' would be a good idea. There's still plenty of options for him, but none of them should be around 'all girls'. Even if he knows he would never do anything wrong, he should still understand what people (and parents) are going to think.
We're discussing the judge in that case, not the defendant, right?
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:16 PM
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We're discussing the judge in that case, not the defendant, right?
Yes, as in why would that judge think it's a good idea to work with a group made up entirely of people that felt he wronged them. You'd think that judge would know that of all the things he can do in life, hanging out with a group of girls every day after school probably isn't one of them.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:16 PM
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Edit: It would also lead to a slippery slope, or be ripe for abuse. Imagine if, 80 years ago, a judge had ruled in favor of a black defendant and then been vilified by a racist white community for doing so.
When they did, they were. Which is why they seldom did. Ditto with DAs and defense attorneys. Which was of course very wrong, and I think a good example of how "holding judges accountable" can go terribly wrong.

Yale has put video recordings of several semester-long courses online, including one about the death penalty. An entire segment is dedicated to how the risk of recall or losing an election can have the effect of making judges less than impartial, and create unfair bias against defendants accused of heinous crimes.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVEgtaLZuCM

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EH_0_S8jZOY

Video 1 of 2 is the lecture, video 2 is an interview as part of that same course with a former Tennessee State Supreme Court justice who lost re-election (and thereby narrowly lost out on becoming the first female Chief Justice of Tennessee's Supreme Court) due to a ruling she made as an appellate judge years before. Very often (and in the specific case described in video 2) the judge's unpopular ruling may be a mere pretext for the opposition or the recall campaign, with a less noble purpose (like, say, a lobbyist upset a judge ruled against their industrial backers) as the real cause.

So, I don’t know if the judge who decided Turner's case was a turd or not, but I do worry that public outcry and the reaction it provokes may not always be in the interest of justice.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 09-12-2019 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:48 PM
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Yes, as in why would that judge think it's a good idea to work with a group made up entirely of people that felt he wronged them. ...
This sentence sounds like the girl's tennis team is of the unanimous opinion that the judge "wronged them". I'm skeptical that's the case. Some women feel like he "wronged them" (and some of those might even be on the tennis team), but that opinion isn't unanimous among women, correct?
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:40 PM
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What's interesting to me is that I believe it is pretty unprecedented; typically unless judges engage in really egregious conduct like accepting bribes to throw cases, their rulings may get overturned on appeal but they aren't held personally accountable for what they do, even when it's patently awful.
They are not held legally accountable. The court of public opinion is a different matter.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:54 PM
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This sentence sounds like the girl's tennis team is of the unanimous opinion that the judge "wronged them". I'm skeptical that's the case. Some women feel like he "wronged them" (and some of those might even be on the tennis team), but that opinion isn't unanimous among women, correct?
Take it at face value, read into it or ignore it, but I'm not spending the rest of the night explaining it over and over as you pick it apart.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:25 PM
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I imagine a lot of that has to do with how few cases are so high profile. Out of the hundreds of thousands of cases that go through the court system in a year, how many do you hear about. Maybe 10 or 20 on the federal level? Another hundred or so on your local news that are in your state? There's probably plenty of controversial things going on in all those other cases no one outside of the courtroom ever hears about.

I'm sure, if you looked through all the other rape cases, Brock wasn't the only person to receive such a light sentence. We also have to remember that (at least IMO) we can't give someone a harsher sentence simply because their case has so much attention. I understand the idea of making an example out of someone (though I never much liked the concept), but hopefully a judge and jury aren't swayed by what's trending on social media.

PS, I realize this sounds like I'm defending the judge, that's not the case. 6 months may not have been enough, but you don't want it changed to 50 years (if it should be, for example, 10) simply because everyone on twitter is talking about it.
Luckily, the court of popular opinion will make his 'sentence' much, much longer.



ETA, I'm still curious why he thought, after a case like that, doing anything that involved the phrase 'all girls' would be a good idea. There's still plenty of options for him, but none of them should be around 'all girls'. Even if he knows he would never do anything wrong, he should still understand what people (and parents) are going to think.
You don't seem to understand how sentencing works. State laws specify sentencing maximums for criminal cases. In California, someone convicted of rape can receive up to 8 years in jail. 30 or 50 years was never a possibility.

Turner was convicted on three counts. Each one was punishable by up to 8 years in prison. Sentenced to the maximum for each count and ordered to serve the sentences consecutively instead of concurrently (unlikely but possible), Turner could have been sentenced to a maximum of 24 years. The fact he was sentenced to 6 months probation was outrageous not only because it was such a light sentence fo such a horrific crime but because of the judge's reasoning that a prison sentence would be too hard on the defendant.

Wouldn't you agree that the basis for sentencing should be the nature of the crime, itself and not how hard the sentence might be on the guilty party? Life imprisonment is pretty hard on anybody, and execution, of course, is even harder.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:33 PM
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This Judge learned a lesson. She refused to grant bail to a girl who said she was going to get an abortion if released.

http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod...-Ohio-1326.pdf

Last edited by LTU2; 09-12-2019 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:43 PM
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The fact he was sentenced to 6 months probation was outrageous not only because it was such a light sentence fo such a horrific crime but because of the judge's reasoning that a prison sentence would be too hard on the defendant.
If memory serves, it was actually six months in jail and three years' probation.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 09-12-2019 at 10:43 PM. Reason: Fix quote
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Old 09-13-2019, 12:47 AM
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I imagine a lot of that has to do with how few cases are so high profile. Out of the hundreds of thousands of cases that go through the court system in a year, how many do you hear about. Maybe 10 or 20 on the federal level? Another hundred or so on your local news that are in your state? There's probably plenty of controversial things going on in all those other cases no one outside of the courtroom ever hears about.

I'm sure, if you looked through all the other rape cases, Brock wasn't the only person to receive such a light sentence. We also have to remember that (at least IMO) we can't give someone a harsher sentence simply because their case has so much attention. I understand the idea of making an example out of someone (though I never much liked the concept), but hopefully a judge and jury aren't swayed by what's trending on social media.
This is the real problem with focussing on revenge on the judge. What people should really be using their energy on is getting the law changed to allow appeals against sentence.

When this thread started, I asked if appeals against sentence are allowed in the US, or are barred as a form of double jeopardy. The answer I got from law-talking US Dopers was that sentence appeals are constitutional, but are not common

Alright then. Give the prosecutor the power to appeal light sentences. Make the prosecutor have to advance good arguments for a higher sentence, based on the statutory provisions governing sentences. Give the defence the power to try to rebut those arguments, based on legal principles. Then have the appellate court rule.

If you want to ensure a just sentence in all cases, not just the ones where a pretty white girl is raped at a fancy university (not trying to discount her experience, but that's what seems to have triggered the intense media coverage here), then change the law to allow for a systemic review of sentences that don't meet the necessary legal standards. That way, you can have principled review in every case of a light sentence, not just the ones that catch the media attention. And it gives the defence the power to appeal what seems to be an excessive sentence, also a valuable measure.

All the talk about recalling the judge here "because it will make the other judges sit up and take notice" really is about the same as saying "be careful outdoors, you don't want to be struck by lightning". The media pack and the intense scrutiny doesn't happen with every case of a light sentence, so it's not really a systemic remedy. All it tells the judges is to be careful not to get a mob mad at you, for whatever reason. Here, it was a sentence the mob thought was too light. In another case, say a case involving political protests, the mob might find a sentence too heavy. There's not predicting what the mob will get upset about. And in any even, that's not what we want judges to do. We want them to sentence according to the laws and the facts, not worry whether what they think is the just and appropriate sentence will get the mob angry at them.

Giving the prosecutor the power to appeal light sentences is a true systemic remedy.
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Old 09-13-2019, 12:59 AM
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If memory serves, it was actually six months in jail and three years' probation.
You are correct. I was wrong. He served 3 months and had three years' probation.
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Old 09-13-2019, 02:14 AM
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6 months may not have been enough, but you don't want it changed to 50 years (if it should be, for example, 10) simply because everyone on twitter is talking about it.
No, I'd want it changed to 50 years (or life without parole, for personal preference) just as a principle.

Or else rape culture never ends.
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Old 09-13-2019, 02:33 AM
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Fuck no.
Next question?
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Old 09-13-2019, 02:43 AM
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Archie Simonson got himself recalled back in 1977 in Madison, Wisconsin for victim blaming a 15 year old rape victim, who got raped in high school by another high school student and giving the rapist a light sentence.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archi...?noredirect=on
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Old 09-13-2019, 02:43 AM
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This is the real problem with focussing on revenge on the judge. What people should really be using their energy on is getting the law changed to allow appeals against sentence.

When this thread started, I asked if appeals against sentence are allowed in the US, or are barred as a form of double jeopardy. The answer I got from law-talking US Dopers was that sentence appeals are constitutional, but are not common

Alright then. Give the prosecutor the power to appeal light sentences. Make the prosecutor have to advance good arguments for a higher sentence, based on the statutory provisions governing sentences. Give the defence the power to try to rebut those arguments, based on legal principles. Then have the appellate court rule.

If you want to ensure a just sentence in all cases, not just the ones where a pretty white girl is raped at a fancy university (not trying to discount her experience, but that's what seems to have triggered the intense media coverage here), then change the law to allow for a systemic review of sentences that don't meet the necessary legal standards. That way, you can have principled review in every case of a light sentence, not just the ones that catch the media attention. And it gives the defence the power to appeal what seems to be an excessive sentence, also a valuable measure.

All the talk about recalling the judge here "because it will make the other judges sit up and take notice" really is about the same as saying "be careful outdoors, you don't want to be struck by lightning". The media pack and the intense scrutiny doesn't happen with every case of a light sentence, so it's not really a systemic remedy. All it tells the judges is to be careful not to get a mob mad at you, for whatever reason. Here, it was a sentence the mob thought was too light. In another case, say a case involving political protests, the mob might find a sentence too heavy. There's not predicting what the mob will get upset about. And in any even, that's not what we want judges to do. We want them to sentence according to the laws and the facts, not worry whether what they think is the just and appropriate sentence will get the mob angry at them.

Giving the prosecutor the power to appeal light sentences is a true systemic remedy.
Coming from a background where the Judiciary stood its ground against a colonial governments wishes and later those of dictators, I find the concept of legally permitted consequences for ordinary and proper judicial actions to be terrifying.

There is literally nothing in the Brock Turner case which indicated the judge acted improperly. Yet he has had to suffer consequences, professional and social.
That is going to have far bigger ramifications for a society than whether some dude gets to coach tennis players.
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Old 09-13-2019, 03:14 AM
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I didn't really like the recall election, and I don't like this either. Tell me when it starts happening to reactionary judges who've never seen a maximum sentence they didn't like, and maybe I'll change my mind. Until then, it sounds like a fine way for the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world to keep winning that prize.
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:13 AM
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:22 AM
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Agreed. Legally responsible? No, of course not. Their job is to rule on the law. They should be protected - outside corrupt practices - from sanction while doing that.

But there's legal consequences and social consequences. If enough judges lose jobs coaching - or are generally social sanctioned for their rulings - then perhaps they're out of step with the times and it's a sign that laws may need some updating.
This is pretty much how I feel. Social consequences are part of the toolset society can use to improve and become more just. People who uphold or otherwise aid or tolerate terrible things, even if it's technically "legal", might be criticized and even lose friends and social privileges for it. There are consequences to every decision.

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Old 09-13-2019, 07:41 AM
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This is pretty much how I feel. Social consequences are part of the toolset society can use to improve and become more just. People who uphold or otherwise aid or tolerate terrible things, even if it's technically "legal", might be criticized and even lose friends and social privileges for it. There are consequences to every decision.
What else would you blithely apply a statement like "there are consequences to every decision" to?

Underage drinking? Teenage pregnancy? Opioid use? Undocumented immigrants who brought their children to America and now face possible separation?

Do you so readily dismiss the second and third order effects of taking a "choices have consequences" approach to all those issues?
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:46 AM
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What else would you blithely apply a statement like "there are consequences to every decision" to?

Underage drinking? Teenage pregnancy? Opioid use? Undocumented immigrants who brought their children to America and now face possible separation?

Do you so readily dismiss the second and third order effects of taking a "choices have consequences" approach to all those issues?
I don't think it's useful to try and compare unavoidable physiological & biological consequences with those created and caused solely by human will.
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:53 AM
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If it was a former cop, professional baseball player or FedEx delivery driver, those remarks on the public record would be fair for people to consider, right? Why should a judge have special dispensation to not have his public statements considered?
Honestly, the thread kind of ended here. I find this argument unassailable.

Judge Persky is not being held accountable for the specific of his ruling as a judge, he's being held accountable for public comments he made in the course of making a ruling. Comments that, it is indisputably true, suggest a cavalier and backwards attitude towards sexual assault, a statistically significant threat for teenage girls. Why should the parents ignore that?

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This is the real problem with focusing on revenge on the judge. What people should really be using their energy on is getting the law changed to allow appeals against sentence.
But this isn't a case of revenge; that is a wild mischaracterization of this event. This is parents deciding they do not want a man coaching their teenage daughters, and the reason they don't want him coaching their teenage daughters is that he made comments strongly indicating he doesn't take rape seriously. They are acting in their capacity to ensure their daughters are being supervised by adults of decent character, whose attitudes are appropriate for close contact with teenage girls. I have teenage girls and I would absolutely not want them coached by Persky.

It's great to change unjust law, but with due respect, what the hell does that have to do with a parent's IMMEDIATE concern about who's coaching their kid?
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:00 AM
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I don't think it's useful to try and compare unavoidable physiological & biological consequences with those created and caused solely by human will.
How we respond to murderers, rapists, and other people who have done terrible things is just as much a matter of psychology and biology as anything else I listed. We are a social species.

I think it’s useful to examine how we can be blind to our own prejudices. Just consider this: the rich white kid has already gotten off. The outrage that got this judge recalled is part and parcel of the system that ensures people from marginalized backgrounds end up receiving stiffer penalties for similar crimes, up and including to being sentenced to death in disproportionate numbers.

Different sides, same coin.
  #33  
Old 09-13-2019, 08:02 AM
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What else would you blithely apply a statement like "there are consequences to every decision" to?

Underage drinking? Teenage pregnancy? Opioid use? Undocumented immigrants who brought their children to America and now face possible separation?

Do you so readily dismiss the second and third order effects of taking a "choices have consequences" approach to all those issues?
Of course there are consequences to every decision, including those things you mentioned. I don't see how that conflicts with anything I've said.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:09 AM
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Of course there are consequences to every decision, including those things you mentioned. I don't see how that conflicts with anything I've said.
Got it. I say "there is an opioid crisis, people are dying, we should be outfitting police and EMTs with Naloxone." And you say... what? "Hey man, choices have consequences."

Or do you suddenly feel like we should evaluate the broader implications of such a policy?
  #35  
Old 09-13-2019, 08:10 AM
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How we respond to murderers, rapists, and other people who have done terrible things is just as much a matter of psychology and biology as anything else I listed. We are a social species.

I think it’s useful to examine how we can be blind to our own prejudices. Just consider this: the rich white kid has already gotten off. The outrage that got this judge recalled is part and parcel of the system that ensures people from marginalized backgrounds end up receiving stiffer penalties for similar crimes, up and including to being sentenced to death in disproportionate numbers.

Different sides, same coin.
I don't think it is useful because the first three things you listed are going to happen no matter what people's attitudes are, while the fourth only happens because of people's attitudes, which can change.

Different sides, different coins.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 09-13-2019 at 08:11 AM.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:10 AM
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I don't think it's useful to try and compare unavoidable physiological & biological consequences with those created and caused solely by human will.
in the cases of rape, you'd be absolutely spot on. How about just any old unwanted pregnancy though?
  #37  
Old 09-13-2019, 08:16 AM
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Got it. I say "there is an opioid crisis, people are dying, we should be outfitting police and EMTs with Naloxone." And you say... what? "Hey man, choices have consequences."

Or do you suddenly feel like we should evaluate the broader implications of such a policy?
"Choices have consequences" is not the end-all final response to every single circumstance, IMO. It is in this one, though. IMO, of course. Negative social consequences for immoral uses of power are entirely appropriate, in my view.

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  #38  
Old 09-13-2019, 08:22 AM
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"Choices have consequences" is not the end-all final response to every single circumstance, IMO. It is in this one, though. IMO, of course. Negative social consequences for immoral uses of power are entirely appropriate, in my view.
I dislike outrage-based social consequences. People, all of us, are fickle. I would rather see a judge who makes bad rulings impeached or censured by an appellate court or a judicial review committee. I hate the idea of putting people into sensitive positions where they must make incredibly difficult decisions that virtually no one else has to make, and effectively making them the sin eaters for the rest of us.

I hate (the idea of) elected judges; I hate (the idea of) judicial recall elections; I hate social shaming as a crutch for social, legal, and economic reform. Personal opinion, based in part on how all those things have been historically used and twisted to create just the sort of NFBSKed up and racist society we have now.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 09-13-2019 at 08:24 AM. Reason: sp
  #39  
Old 09-13-2019, 08:31 AM
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"Choices have consequences" is not the end-all final response to every single circumstance, IMO. It is in this one, though. IMO, of course. Negative social consequences for immoral uses of power are entirely appropriate, in my view.
No one has said that "choices have consequences" is the end all but what happens is that you then have people coming in saying that someone else needs to pick up the slack, EXCUSING the actions that caused said issue.

Liberals tend to do this a whole lot more than conservatives. If you go back to the personal responsibility (that you only posted in a few times to be snarky), you will see that the excusing of whatever behavior caused the problem only becomes an issue when you are expecting someone else to pay to get you out of that consequence …

In the end, if we all accepted the consequences of our actions, there would be a lot less consequences handed out because consequences also teach valuable lessons.
So sure the judge can in turn be judged by his action or inaction. Whether or not that makes good policy is completely up for discussion.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:40 AM
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The trick to this question is, "to what extent"? Are we talking about one poor decision or a pattern of reckless leniency or harsh sentencing based on race? I support the latter, but the former is very problematic. It could just be one mistake in judgment. Everyone makes them. On the other hand, if there is a pattern of ridiculously lenient sentencing of white offenders as opposed to minorities, that is just cause for dismissal as far as I'm concerned.
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  #41  
Old 09-13-2019, 09:01 AM
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If judges are following the law, even if you don't like it, then blame the law.
  #42  
Old 09-13-2019, 09:09 AM
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I dislike outrage-based social consequences. People, all of us, are fickle. I would rather see a judge who makes bad rulings impeached or censured by an appellate court or a judicial review committee. I hate the idea of putting people into sensitive positions where they must make incredibly difficult decisions that virtually no one else has to make, and effectively making them the sin eaters for the rest of us.

I hate (the idea of) elected judges; I hate (the idea of) judicial recall elections; I hate social shaming as a crutch for social, legal, and economic reform. Personal opinion, based in part on how all those things have been historically used and twisted to create just the sort of NFBSKed up and racist society we have now.
If we had something close to a just and fair system and society, I'd be with you. But I think we're in such a fundamentally broken place that society needs to use these sorts of tools, in some circumstances, to try and prevent things from getting even worse.

If a judge is in a position in which the "legal" or "strict" (or whatever) decision is profoundly and deeply immoral, then they should either resign or make an "illegal" fucking decision, which might help move the law towards the side of morality. Of course there's a slippery slope and a ton of danger here, since that can go wrong in so many ways... but our system is so fundamentally unfair and broken that I'm even more worried about the status quo than such possible dangers.

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No one has said that "choices have consequences" is the end all but what happens is that you then have people coming in saying that someone else needs to pick up the slack, EXCUSING the actions that caused said issue.

Liberals tend to do this a whole lot more than conservatives. If you go back to the personal responsibility (that you only posted in a few times to be snarky), you will see that the excusing of whatever behavior caused the problem only becomes an issue when you are expecting someone else to pay to get you out of that consequence …

In the end, if we all accepted the consequences of our actions, there would be a lot less consequences handed out because consequences also teach valuable lessons.
So sure the judge can in turn be judged by his action or inaction. Whether or not that makes good policy is completely up for discussion.
I'm not so interested in this personal side of it as what is going to work for society. People are people, and some of them will fuck up. In some circumstances, society will work better for everyone when they get 2nd and 3rd (or whatever) chances... in some cases it may not. In some cases it's very grey. I think society clearly puts these consequences on the poor and disadvantaged -- poor people face terrible consequences for bad decisions... rich people are much less likely to. Rich kids get 2nd and 3rd (and 10th and 20th) chances when they screw up... poor kids might become institutionalized and permanent ex-cons with no likelihood of getting honest and decent-paying work after a single bad decision. I think that's bad for society as a whole, and I favor approaching it from both sides. The rich have it too easy, and the poor (and otherwise disadvantaged) have it too tough, to sum it up very broadly.
  #43  
Old 09-13-2019, 09:43 AM
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Honestly, the thread kind of ended here. I find this argument unassailable.

Judge Persky is not being held accountable for the specific of his ruling as a judge, he's being held accountable for public comments he made in the course of making a ruling. Comments that, it is indisputably true, suggest a cavalier and backwards attitude towards sexual assault, a statistically significant threat for teenage girls. Why should the parents ignore that?


But this isn't a case of revenge; that is a wild mischaracterization of this event. This is parents deciding they do not want a man coaching their teenage daughters, and the reason they don't want him coaching their teenage daughters is that he made comments strongly indicating he doesn't take rape seriously. They are acting in their capacity to ensure their daughters are being supervised by adults of decent character, whose attitudes are appropriate for close contact with teenage girls. I have teenage girls and I would absolutely not want them coached by Persky.

It's great to change unjust law, but with due respect, what the hell does that have to do with a parent's IMMEDIATE concern about who's coaching their kid?


Well said. Too bad nobody here is listening.
  #44  
Old 09-13-2019, 09:56 AM
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No, I'd want it changed to 50 years (or life without parole, for personal preference) just as a principle.
If there is no marginal punishment between rape and murder, there is no marginal deterrence.

This actually increases the incentive to murder, on that margin. "I'd rather be hanged for a sheep than a lamb." No reason to leave a witness alive if the penalty for murder is the same as the penalty for rape. The same worry exists for three-strikes laws in the US. Criminals on their second strike might increase the severity of their third crime, in order to lessen the chance of getting caught.

But even on top of that, to punish the perpetrators of two different crime in the same way is an open statement of belief that the severity of the two crimes is the same. Both are seen as equally bad, which is why they receive the same punishment. I can see why a radical conservative might see the rape of a woman as equivalent to the murder of that woman. The radical could think: "What possible value could she have after being raped?" But I earnestly hope that that is not a common opinion. Rape is a terrible crime, but it is not equivalent to murder. People are not robbed of their entire dignity and respect as human beings from having been raped. At least, not in the opinions of civilized people.


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Or else rape culture never ends.
Blunt instruments will not change culture in this way.

Last edited by Hellestal; 09-13-2019 at 09:57 AM.
  #45  
Old 09-13-2019, 09:56 AM
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Got it. I say "there is an opioid crisis, people are dying, we should be outfitting police and EMTs with Naloxone." And you say... what? "Hey man, choices have consequences."

Or do you suddenly feel like we should evaluate the broader implications of such a policy?
Non-parallels because it's really a matter of 'reading the room'.

Persky, in the case in question, was literally terrible at knowing the tone of the society in which he was functioning. He made some astonishingly stupid statements and then has suffered some social consequences because of it. Bang. That's the long and short of it.

Someone who confronts the opioid addiction crisis with 'Choices have consequences' is speaking truth. Absolutely. But would also be really misreading the room given the current state of the culture.
  #46  
Old 09-13-2019, 10:21 AM
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Non-parallels because it's really a matter of 'reading the room'.
Wait, wait... is leaving someone dying on the sidewalk from an opioid overdose even as drugs could be made readily available to save them wrong because it's wrong, or is it wrong because it's "misreading the room," as in "exposes one to excessive criticism, and so prudent to avoid"?

Likewise, was Persky's decision to sentence Turner to less than the statutory minimum wrong because justice demanded a stiffer sentence (which of course would lead us into a discussion of "what do you mean by "justice" or, more specifically, what should be the aim of the justice system) or was it wrong because he "misread the room" and failed to take into account mob justice?

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 09-13-2019 at 10:23 AM. Reason: Sp
  #47  
Old 09-13-2019, 10:27 AM
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Agreed. Legally responsible? No, of course not. Their job is to rule on the law. They should be protected - outside corrupt practices - from sanction while doing that.

But there's legal consequences and social consequences. If enough judges lose jobs coaching - or are generally social sanctioned for their rulings - then perhaps they're out of step with the times and it's a sign that laws may need some updating.
I agree.

And I'd like to add that there's often a lot of legal sausage-making that goes on that the general public does not see- a judge's ruling or sentencing decision may not just be the product of his own personal whims; it may be influenced by something else- a desire to avoid appeals, for example, might influence a judge not to throw the book at a defendant. Or other sorts of deals and hijinks with charging and sentencing might have gone on.

Last edited by bump; 09-13-2019 at 10:28 AM.
  #48  
Old 09-13-2019, 11:22 AM
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Non-parallels because it's really a matter of 'reading the room'.

Persky, in the case in question, was literally terrible at knowing the tone of the society in which he was functioning. He made some astonishingly stupid statements and then has suffered some social consequences because of it. Bang. That's the long and short of it.

Someone who confronts the opioid addiction crisis with 'Choices have consequences' is speaking truth. Absolutely. But would also be really misreading the room given the current state of the culture.
But sometimes the "room" is wrong.

If a judge is in a highly racist society, and rules in favor of a black defendant, is he "misreading the room/society" and therefore deserves harassment or social penalties for his ruling?

Not saying that the Brock Turner case is comparable to racism, just saying that penalizing a judge because he/she doesn't act in accordance with what society wants can be a recipe for injustice. Sometimes society wants what is wrong.
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Old 09-13-2019, 12:01 PM
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But this isn't a case of revenge; that is a wild mischaracterization of this event. This is parents deciding they do not want a man coaching their teenage daughters, and the reason they don't want him coaching their teenage daughters is that he made comments strongly indicating he doesn't take rape seriously. They are acting in their capacity to ensure their daughters are being supervised by adults of decent character, whose attitudes are appropriate for close contact with teenage girls. I have teenage girls and I would absolutely not want them coached by Persky.
That is really silly. The judge was under a duty to give reasons for his sentence. He absolutely was under a duty to consider both mitigating and aggravating circumstances in reaching his conclusion.
Wanting judicial decisions to be handed down on the basis of whims is a recipe for disaster.
  #50  
Old 09-13-2019, 12:02 PM
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If we had something close to a just and fair system and society, I'd be with you. But I think we're in such a fundamentally broken place that society needs to use these sorts of tools, in some circumstances, to try and prevent things from getting even worse.

If a judge is in a position in which the "legal" or "strict" (or whatever) decision is profoundly and deeply immoral, then they should either resign or make an "illegal" fucking decision, which might help move the law towards the side of morality. Of course there's a slippery slope and a ton of danger here, since that can go wrong in so many ways... but our system is so fundamentally unfair and broken that I'm even more worried about the status quo than such possible dangers.



I'm not so interested in this personal side of it as what is going to work for society. People are people, and some of them will fuck up. In some circumstances, society will work better for everyone when they get 2nd and 3rd (or whatever) chances... in some cases it may not. In some cases it's very grey. I think society clearly puts these consequences on the poor and disadvantaged -- poor people face terrible consequences for bad decisions... rich people are much less likely to. Rich kids get 2nd and 3rd (and 10th and 20th) chances when they screw up... poor kids might become institutionalized and permanent ex-cons with no likelihood of getting honest and decent-paying work after a single bad decision. I think that's bad for society as a whole, and I favor approaching it from both sides. The rich have it too easy, and the poor (and otherwise disadvantaged) have it too tough, to sum it up very broadly.
This is a horrible position. The judiciary system should dispassionately operate according to the laws passed by the legislature. The idea that a judge should substitute their own morality for the law means an end to the rule of law.

Persky followed the usual procedure and is being punished because the case caught the attention of the public and a bunch of people got outraged out of ignorance and decided to act like a mob.

The inevitable result will be harsher sentences for everyone. The result of removing discretion from judges when it comes to sentencing means that either awful crimes will be under punished or relatively less egregious crimes will be over punished. Which is the more likely outcome, that politicians will be more willing to face outcry over why horrible criminals are being coddled or that they are too harsh on the occasional sympathetic defendant. Especially, in the light of this case.

I played 4 years of high school tennis and the subject of rape never came up, I guess times have changed.
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