Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Judges are Awesome - Long but Worth Reading

I wanted to give you a cool comparison of judges administering sentences. The first is from the always hysterical Judge Kirby Benedict, a federal judge for the New Mexico territory around the time of the Civil War. Google him, he had a pretty cool life.

"Jose Manuel Miguel Xavier Gonzales, in a few short weeks it will be spring. The snows of winter will flee away, the ice will vanish, and the air will become soft and balmy. In short, Jose Manuel Miguel Xavier Gonzales, the annual miracle of the years will awaken and come to pass, but you won't be there...

You won't be here to enjoy it because I command the sheriff or some other officers of the country to lead you out to some remote spot, swing you by the neck from a knotting bough of some sturdy oak, and let you hang until you are dead.

And then...I further command that such officer or officers retire quickly from your dangling corpse, so that vultures may descend from the heavens upon your filthy, cold-blooded, bloodthirsty, throat-cutting, murdering son of a bitch."

Fun, right??? The second sentencing comes from Judge Leonia Brinkema, a NY judge, in the pretty famous case of Zacarias Moussaoui, you might have read about. Moussaoui (the guy in the picture) was the only public trial of someone openly involved in the September 11th attacks. He was convicted, but the jury refused to give him the death penalty, to which he cockily replied, "God curse America, you lost. I won." To which Judge Brinkema replied:

"Well, Mr. Moussaoui, if you look around this courtroom today, every person in this room when the proceeding is over will leave this courtroom, and they are free to go any place they want. They can go outside, they can feel the sun, they can smell fresh air. In contrast, you will spend the rest of your life in a super-maximum security facility. In terms of winners and losers, it's quite clear who won and who lost.

As for you, Mr. Moussaoui, you came here to be a martyr and to die in a great big bang of glory, but to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, instead you will die with a whimper."

Feel free to share your thoughts. For those fellow Catholics out there, I think the Brinkema sentence shows how just a life sentence can be in lieu of a death penalty - which seems somewhat barbaric. Agreed?????

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