Thursday, April 23, 2015

Erwin Chemerinsky Defends Judge Who Gave Reduced Sentence to Child Rapist

Erwin Chemerinsky

Orange County and LA are in an uproar over OC judge M. Marc Kelly, who reduced a mandatory 25 year sentence down to 10 years for a 20-year-old man who sodomized his three year-old half-sister. While criticizing the judge's decision, UC Irvine law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky takes the position in today's Orange County Regsiter  that it is inappropriate to recall the judge or ask for him to step down.

Chemerinsky is neglecting to add one thing to his op-ed: These judges do not hold lifetime appointments. They are elected by the voters. So who says we can't recall them or ask them to step down?


1 comment:

Siarlys Jenkins said...

The actual content of Chemerinsky's article is much higher caliber than anyone would recognize from reading what Gary Fouse posted about it. Its a sober assessment which details how and why the judge is wrong, and will almost certainly be overturned on appeal.

With the record set straight on that point, is there a valid basis for recalling the judge?

I'm generally wary of doing that. Judges are supposed to enforce the law, whether it is popular or not. Recalling any judge because "I'm just so offended by his reasoning" reminds me of some of the more ludicrous gay marriage arguments.

Sometimes its the only recourse available. I was sympathetic to the recall of the three judges in Iowa who imposed marriage licenses for same sex couples as a constitutional fiat, because there isn't much else one can do about a state supreme court judge who over-reaches in expounding a state constitution. Such rulings are not appealable to the federal courts, and should not be. I would have voted for Proposition 8 had I lived in California, despite the sleazy company I would have been keeping, and how poorly written it was, because there is literally no other way to over-rule a really poorly thought out ruling by a state supreme court.

But, one sentencing decision, however bone-headed, is not a basis to remove a judge from office. If the system is working well, and if this judge has an ounce of sense, he will learn from the cases in which he is over-ruled. If not, if he continues to flagrantly make additional decisions that fly in the face of appellate decisions over-ruling him, then it will be time to recall him.

And no, I did not sympathize with the move to recall Grodin, Byrd and Renoso. (Gary will remember that one -- I bet he voted in favor).