Kim Davis the clerk of Rowan County in the Commonwealth of Kentucky is free. I wrote about this the other day and said she never should have gone to jail in the first place.
It is reported that in an email from an Attorney Dan J. Canon who represented the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued Davis on behalf of several gay couples said the organization achieved what it set out to do. “The goal was to get Ms. Davis to issue licenses, and to stop imposing her religious beliefs on the citizens she was elected to serve. That goal has been achieved, for now.”
It is reported the judge who put her in jail said: “he would release her because he was satisfied that her office was “fulfilling its obligation to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.””
As you know Kim Davis was put in jail last Thursday. On Friday, the clerks in her office began to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning at 8:00 a.m. that morning. Why then did Davis have to spend Labor Day weekend in jail? The goal of having that clerk’s office issue license was met on Friday morning. The judge rather than releasing her decided he’d have her spend four more days in jail.
“Five days in prison,” you think, “big deal.” Believe me it is. The indignities one suffers in one day having lost one’s freedom and being subject to the whims of prison guards is enough to scar one for a lifetime. Add to that Ms Davis had no idea how long she would be kept there since there was no reason for her to be there in the first place.
That was all up to the federal judge. There was no check on his ill-advised judgment. There was no one who moved expeditiously to right this wrong. She did not have to go to jail at all. The judge could easily have ordered others, as he apparently did, to issue the licenses. Why then did he jail her? Why was he so intent on making her a martyr? Why did he deprive her of her liberty when he enjoyed his over the Labor Day weekend?
This is a clear case of judicial arrogance not justice. The idea behind being a judge is to do no unnecessary harm, that is to be judicious, wise, sensible and prudent. That seems to have been lost on this judge and our judiciary in general which is more and more isolated from the people. It hides in fort like buildings, as we see in Boston, where the overall feeling when one is inside is of being in a tomb-like prison, a place in a Kafka novel where all the events happen behind hidden walls. The elevators only stop at odd floors; there are no buttons with even numbers on them. A young man in his early twenties riding down on the elevator with me a week or so ago said: “this is the worst place in the world to have to come to. I hate being here. It is so oppressive.”
The federal district and appeals courts are so far removed from the public that they refuse to allow any of their proceedings to be recorded or televised. Why are they hiding what they are doing? Did we get a little look at the injustices that go on behind those walls when we saw the unnecessary imprisonment of Ms Davis?
Of course we need not look at Ms Davis’s plight to see how cruel our federal judges can be. We have the case of Catherine Greig right here in Boston. In Greig’s case one has to look hard to find any semblance of judiciousness or justice.
She was the woman who went off with Whitey on his 16 year flight. Her crime was being in love with the bum. She kept him company while he hid out. (John Martorano who murdered 20 people had a girl who did the same thing for him and she was not prosecuted.)
Greig had no other criminal record. There was no evidence she knew anything about Whitey’s murders, He he fled long before Martorano and Weeks turned rat on him and told us about them. She was punished by Judge Douglas Woodlock, another former assistant U.S. attorney who was appointed a judge by Ronald Reagan. He sent her to 8 years in prison. That was more time than Mafia leaders were receiving at the time.
Not only that, he let victims of Bulger’s crimes castigate her in the open courtroom as if she had something to do with his actions. The sentence imposed by the guidelines should have been about two years. The reason she received such a high sentence was that the prosecutors were trying to squeeze her into testifying.
The question came up at the time whether the federal judges in Boston were merely tools of the prosecutors. Were they helping them in their cases having forgotten they were no longer prosecutors? Some asked whether it was wise it to have so many judges who were former federal prosecutors. Listening to the answers it was hard not to think that was the reason they hid in their secret caves out of view of the public.