Having worked in the criminal justice system for years, when a case is over someone is usually unhappy. Did the defendant get too much time, not enough or no time? It is according to which side you are on. The system is also over-burdened with too many cases to work well. Crime marches on and everyone else tries to keep up.
Judges may be elected or appointed if a judgeship comes open within a term. The appointed judge can then run for the office when the term ends. In my opinion all judgeships should be non-partisan. Not that it always matters. If a judge is appointed it will be based on polititics and not necessarily on the appointee’s knowledge or experience. The person may have both, but I have seen people appointed who had to quickly learn what they were expected to do. Once a judge is elected or appointed it takes around 2 years to determine if “judge-itis” or “robe-itis”will set in. It takes a while for some to recognize how much power they have. Once this happens, it can be misused.
Those who work in the criminal system field get concerned when a judge is going to be appointed because we know that once the term ends and if the person runs they will likely be elected. People do not seem to think about getting educated on judges so they usually can sit on the bench as long as they choose. Some are removed for a violation, but that doesn’t happen too often. Good or bad, many judges are on the bench for years.
Being a judge is not an easy job and I have sat in courtrooms and wondered what I would rule in certain cases. It is also a huge responsibility. They must maintain control of the courtroom, which isn’t always as easy as it sounds, rule on motions, determine sentencing and other duties. We all have our moments so if a judge is having a bad day, I can deal with that. It is the ones who seem to have a bad day every day that can be a challenge.
Prosecutors, probation officers, court staff and others work diligently to keep the system afloat. Victim advocates assist the victims providing support and accompaniment. The latest trend is called “criminal justice reform.” From what I have observed from reading new laws in Georgia is that the goal is to release as many jail and prison inmates as possible. Long-term probation may also be reduced under certain conditions. There are pre-trial programs, drug courts, mental health courts, domestic violence courts and probably others in some areas. I believe people should be given a chance to change, but it is ultimately up to person.
In case you are wondering if I am biased against defendants, I have worked with inmates on life skills and I know they are people too. Many inmates have experienced horrific childhoods and I am truly sorry that they had to go through being abused. I am up front and straight-forward in that once you become an adult it is your responsibility to receive help if you need it to live a productive life. I also encourged them to set goals, dream and move forward. I know numerous people who have been victimized as children and/or adults who did not turn to a life of crime.
As we celebrate the 4th of July and those who serve in the military to protect our country, there are other professionals who also serve and protect. We hear so much about the people who commit crimes or exhibit bad behavior in our world today. Let’s also remember those who do not commit crimes or behave badly. Particularly, those who have dedicated their lives to helping others. God bless America!