Archive for November 13th, 2006

Justices Under Pressure in DUI Cases

Monday, November 13th, 2006

The following story appeared in USA Today a few days ago:

O'Connor Worries About Courts' Autonomy

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said she fears judges are under growing political attack nationwide.

"I'm increasingly concerned about the current climate of challenge to judicial independence," O'Connor told a gathering of state judges from around the country Friday. "Unhappiness with judges today is at a very intense level."…

One of the tactics employed by MADD in recent years is intimidating ("monitoring") judges in DUI cases, reporting on their actions, and compiling statistics to be used in the media at election time. The following is just one example of this coercive tactic:

Local MADD Activists Plan to Sit in on DUI Cases

The Virginian-Pilot, October 31. A few extra sets of eyes and ears soon will be monitoring drunken driving cases in courtrooms throughout Hampton Roads.

Activists with Mothers Against Drunk Driving plan to mobilize volunteers who will go daily to general district and circuit courts and record details of drunken driving cases, said Linda Kaye Walsh, vice chairwoman of the group’s state chapter.

MADD already has volunteers in court systems in 10 states, including North Carolina, who sit through proceedings, filling out forms that track details such as the names of the defendants, judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys and the disposition of each case….

The goal of ''court monitoring,” Walsh and others said, is to look at how the judicial system as a whole deals with DUI cases…. “I’m excited,” (Walsh) said, holding up her ever-growing manila file folder with information about dozens of cases. “And here’s a prime example of why.”

Walsh has long been critical of attorneys who try to get DUI charges lowered to reckless driving. She said she hopes that having the volunteer observers in the courtrooms will discourage the practice. [Emphasis added] “It’s putting the judges on notice,” she said. “It’s putting the prosecutors and attorneys on notice as well.”

Imagine you are accused of drunk driving. Now imagine that you are in a courtroom where the judge and prosecutor are being watched by silent observers in the audience, observers who want your conviction and the maximum penalty — and who can influence reelections.

Big Mother is watching.

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