Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » March 2005 » That Ye Shall Not Be Judged...

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03/12/2005: That Ye Shall Not Be Judged...

I was watching the CNN coverage of the Atlanta shootings at the Fulton County Jail. Murdered were a Judge, the court reporter and two sherriff's deputies. This news comes on the heels of the weekend murders of Judge Lefkow"s husband and mother, who were both murdered here in Chicago. The perp was also coincidentally a disgruntled former litigant who had his case dismissed by Judge Lefkow. This story in the Chicago Tribune says the perpetrator, Bart Ross, committed suicide after leaving a "confession note" to the killings.

Eric Zorn (Chicago Tribune) wrote this column about WHAT’S THE APPEAL OF BEING A JUDGE? and had this to say:

"Would you want to be a judge? Make rulings every day that have very serious consequences on individuals’ lives while knowing that you’re a fallible human being just like everyone else?It involves a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibility. Sleepless nights, too, I imagine, for those who are the least bit conscientious and humble.And even when right is on your side and the justice you offer is exquisite, people can get very, very angry with you. Worse, as we saw in the Lefkow murders and are apparently seeing again this morning with the news of a courthouse shooting in Georgia that has left a judge dead, every once in a while they get so angry they want to harm or kill you.So what’s the payoff that makes it all worth it?

Power? For most judges it’s great over the lives of a few, but paltry in the grand scheme of things. And at times you’re simply a referee in robes, keeping a trial running smoothly and then following guidelines in handing down a sentence. Woo hoo.Prestige, good working hours and sometimes interesting dramas playing out in front of you? Getting called “Your honor” by people who in many cases are a lot smarter than you? OK.

The satisfaction of playing an indispensable role in the system that defends the critical rights and freedoms of your fellow citizens? Probably, yes.I wouldn’t want to do it, but I can see why others might find it their calling. What I can’t see is why so many in the legal profession strive for spots on lower court benches—why so many judicial races are contested.I’d like to hear from some judges and lawyers –- anonymously if you wish – about the lure of the gavel. Why is it so strong? Does that old cliché of self-doubt ever enter your mind -- Ah, but who am I to judge? "

Karen on 03.12.05 @ 05:39 AM CST

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March 2005

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