As we write this morning our city – Rochester, New York – is experiencing what is called “civil unrest”. It has now taken a somewhat worrisome turn where protesters, having “occupied” City Hall, are squaring off with police.
The City probably cannot allow the occupation of City Hall for any extended period of time. On the other hand, one wonders what kind of “command and control” is in effect since in the last couple of days the police chief, his command staff, and the city’s Corporation Counsel have all been fired or suspended.
This is a potentially dangerous moment, in other words. We hope for the best, of course. We have friends and neighbors on both sides.
Our own opinion is that the City of Rochester – including the mayor, police chiefs and the vast majority of the cops – are the least guilty and the least responsible officials for the state of affairs that is actually prompting all the protesting. We continue to object that lawyers – especially prosecutors – and judges are largely getting a pass while police officers are increasingly targeted. We think judges, in particular, have failed the country and even the police in the long run by toadying for the police. In the short run, toadying for the police is a political score for the judge and makes the police feel good. In the long run, consistently cheating truth, fairness and justice result in civil unrest, as we have so often pointed out.
In other words, we are simply experiencing the natural and probable consequences of decades of judicial dishonesty. No one should be surprised.
Some judges are already bending over backwards to make matters worse. We had to comment over on Professor Turley’s blog, and probably can’t much improve on that commentary here, so we’ll just reproduce it:
The judge is a moron. It is too late to impose “discipline” with draconian bail setting and sentencing accompanied by pious allusions to law and order. We haven’t done law and order for a long time, and that’s the problem. Law and order is not about the government’s monopoly on force; it’s about the government’s commitment to being fair and just. It is the third branch of government – the courts – that is supposed to keep that commitment and it has been failing – and I mean miserably failing – to do that for decades. It doesn’t even pretend to do it, and the members of the profession that administers the judicial branch – lawyers – are overwhelmingly nihilists who deny that fairness and justice have any meaning or content.
That’s a formula for civil unrest. It’s just a matter of time. And it’s inevitable.
It’s really unbelievable to me how dense a judge has to be to think he’s going to make a dent in all this by imposing an obviously unlawful bail. That’s exactly the kind of stupidity that has led to this situation in the first place. It’s also pretty depressing to see commenters here applauding the judge. I should think Professor Turley’s audience would be a little brighter.
The problems here run so deep. All of these recent incidents – George Floyd, Jacob Blake, etc. – are just triggers.
The underlying facts of these incidents don’t matter? You know, was it self-defense, was it a justified use of force by police, and so on.
Of course the underlying reality doesn’t matter. That’s exactly how our courts have been behaving for decades now. That’s exactly what we have taught the populace. Now they have learned the lesson and the shoe is on the other foot, turned around on us. What do we do now? Get them to listen to reason? It’s so “too late” for that. Cave to the pressure? That will invite more pressure.
There’s probably only one way out at this point: return to first principles like justice and fairness, or at least decency, then hang on, be patient, and take our punishment in the meantime.
This is not something we seem able to do very well. Or at all.
One last observation. Our friend SHG has his own take on the situation this morning. Very different from ours. Very much behind the curve, we think.
We see absolutely nothing wrong with a judge finally being made uncomfortable at home, especially in this situation. And SHG’s allusions to all the supposed remedies to correct the judge’s stupidity? It’s possible that some other judges might not be so stupid as this one is and might correct the obviously wrongful bail decision, but that’s only because the spotlight is on them, this time. The spotlight usually isn’t, and that means that – usually – even rulings as stupid as this one never get corrected.
Put another way: We deserve everything we’re getting, and then some.