The Arrogance of American Justice

There is not much that can get my dandruff up more than seeing an official abuse their authority or say one thing while doing another.  You see this a lot in politicians, promising one thing on the campaign trail but seemingly to quickly forget their first few hours in office but they are not as closely related to the community as a whole than those elected to sit on our benches in our courts.  Most Americans see this place as the only place left on earth where they can get a fair shake and the impartiality of those wearing that robe would listen, hear and understand their plight, provide them with a sense of belonging and even help where ever they could.  Today’s justice is not benched with judges such as these but people with their own agenda, their own bias and an overwhelming mixture of self-importance.  This can clearly be seen in the case reported by an article titled “Florida judge berates domestic abuse victim, sentences sobbing woman to jail” by Melissa Chan for the New York Daily News, October 9, 2015.

It reports “Seminole County Judge Jerri Collins was captured heartlessly rebuking the pleading woman as she desperately apologizes and says her depression and anxiety kept her from facing her abuser in court. "You think you're going to have anxiety now? You haven't even seen anxiety," Collins says before issuing her decision. The victim had to appear before the judge on July 30 for contempt of court hearing, WFTV-9 reported. She had ignored a subpoena to testify against the father of her child who allegedly choked her and threatened her with a kitchen knife, the local news station said. "Your honor, I'm very sorry for not attending the last one," she said through tears. "I've been dealing with depression and just a lot personally since this happened. My anxiety is like, this is every day for me." The unmoved Collins tells the woman she was required to appear under court order. "You disobeyed a court order, knowing that this was not going to turn out well for the state," Collins said. "And violating your court order did not do anything for you," Collins said. "I find you in contempt of court. I hereby sentence you to three days in the county jail."  "Judge, I'll do anything ... I have a 1-year-old son, and I'm trying to take care of him by myself. I'm begging you, please, please don't," she said.  "Turn around," the judge responds. "You should have showed up. I've already issued my order."  During her bid for re-election last year, Collins told The Orlando Political Observer she should be voted back into office because she makes a "positive impact on the citizens and the litigants that come before the court."  "Every litigant deserves an experienced, knowledgeable individual presiding over their case," she said at the time. "I've enjoyed my role as a judge. I enjoy the law. Most importantly, I enjoy serving my community."

While I am sure, that a part of Judge Collins thought she was doing what was right and it is much easier to arm-chair quarterback the decision of another, I am still compelled to add my two cents.  The statement of telling the victim about how hard it would be for the state says to me that she was more concerned about the state than she was about the litigant standing directly in front of her.  I mean what better opportunity was there to enroll this lady in services and to even help her homelessness situation than through the court system.  How better could she had provided some order of protection against an abusive boyfriend than to place her under probation and assign a probation officer to look after her for a few months or until that coward of a boyfriend found another victim to beat on.  I might be wrong but I see this and an enormous missed opportunity to serve the community she claims to care so much about.


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