The Woes of Being A Judge: Even Right Decisions May Be Second Guessed.

We depend on our FBI and intelligence agencies to keep us safe even though Trump is banking on Putin to do it for us. We rely on these agencies to work hard and follow-up any threats to our country. We recognize that for them to prevent any attacks on American soil they must be right 100% of the time. If not then tragedy may happen.

We saw that with the Tsarnaev brothers where after an FBI inquiry they were deemed not to be a threat. The FBI made a judgment call. It acted on the information it had at the time. How was it to know that it had made a grave error which would lead to the Marathon Terrorist Attack?

We also saw it with the 9/11 attack and perhaps even with the Pearl Harbor attack.  Monday morning quarterbacking showed clues that if put together in the exact right order may have alerted us that the attacks were coming. Even with that though, one knows that had something different been done the outcome still might have been the same, or perhaps worse.

In Boston, more specifically in the Town of Weymouth (it is really a city), we had one of those tragedies where a local police officer Sergeant Michael Chesna was murdered. The person charged with the murder is Emmanuel Lopes. I’ve read that his ancestry is half-Irish and half Cape Verdean  which may limit the anti-immigration cries of horror.

With this tragedy people start to look for scapegoats. The question that often comes up if the person has had prior involvement with the law is why is this person on the street and not in prison. The cry goes out: “who was the judge who let him roam around on the streets so he could commit this act!”

It is a legitimate question and we should inquire into that happening. But in doing so we cannot lose sight of the big picture. It is not that Lopes was the only person who appeared before the judge on the days he was in court. We are dealing with a district court where on any one day there are dozens upon dozens of cases that come up before a judge. Many of them involve some sort of violence or the other. Often there are mental health issued involved with them.

The courtrooms are crowded, the people are impatient, the lawyers are pushing to get away, the court personnel doing one thing or another, the door opens and closes, and the judge sees a person amidst the hullabaloo and makes a decision based upon a defendant’s record, prior appearances, the probation report, and the arguments of the lawyers and prosecutors. It would be a perilous position other than a judge can assume almost all of the people, if released, won’t do something dastardly if the information provided does not raise any red flags.

Here the judge had this before her a September arrest for throwing a rock through a window; an October arrest for selling cocaine to a minor and resisting arrest. The prosecutors asked for $5,000 bail. A judge ordered him held and sent for an alcohol and drug evaluation over prosecutor’s objections. When he came back last November another judge, Jeanmarie Carroll, set  bail on  him of $500.00 and required him to avoid drugs and alcohol.

Jeanmarie Carroll worked with me for several years.  She is a skilled trial lawyer and prosecutor, I respect and like her so keep that in mind.

Lopes had no convictions on his  record at the time bail was imposed. I suggest Carroll did what she should have done under the circumstances. I’m not sure any other judge would have done differently.

Lopes would not show up in February for drug screening. There is no showing Carroll knew this. We  do not know what was done because of that.

Lopes was due back in court at the end of July. He was there on the 17th and arraigned on two murder indictments.

There is a Boston Herald story that tells how Judge Carroll was appointed to investigate the release of Jared Remy. She found  fault with the Middlesex District Attorney’s office for its actions in that case. Putting the Remy case which involved prior violence against the victim up against the Lopes case is comparing apples and grapes. They are as different as day and night.

Lopes violent act could not have been predicted. Judge Carroll made the right decision. The judicial system operated as it should have.


5 thoughts on “The Woes of Being A Judge: Even Right Decisions May Be Second Guessed.

  1. From your opening sentence dinning in one’s head the rock thrower’s refrain about a man duly and legally elected President of the United States being a puppet of a foreign leader to your smug complacence that you can just act like a complete jerk with your Democratic compeers and insult a man with impunity , you fail to convince .

    Officer Chesna is just Democrat Party road kill . He was white. He was a police officer . He is completely expendable to the ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter white liberal enablers .

    Like yourself ?

  2. There are at least two major factors here:

    1. U.S. Constitution Amendment VIII – “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

    2. Judges have no more ability to predict the future than anyone else. This is another example of hindsight bias.

    Isn’t it amazing how much money we are saving in our state budgets on mental health care?

  3. On facts available to the judge limited to those presented herein a reasonable decision was made.

  4. And of course there are people that have never even gotten a parking ticket that commit mass murder. Scapegoats. What would we do without them? Let’s have another inquiry. Let’s spend another million dollars and find out who left those crumbs on the table.

    The complexity of the human brain gets no respect.

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