…about judicial candidates

There are a plethora of candidates running for judge on the November ballot. Let’s hope we elect a man or woman who is upright, just, and fair in his/her public and private dealings.

I haven’t the foggiest what about hypocrisy so utterly reviles me. In truth this country, and virtually all of its founders, were steeped in public commentary vastly at odds with their private lives.  

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”  We all know this to be from The Declaration of Independence but how many people are aware it was principally authored by someone who owned as many as 600 chattel slaves over the course of his private life?  

I am speaking, of course, of Thomas Jefferson, who most historians agree felt guilty about the institution and fathered children with his slave, Sally Henning. While we, as a budding country, were espousing the endowment of what we called a self-evident truth, that we are all created equal, we were simultaneously practicing the most pernicious of institutions.  

David Armitage in his work, The Declaration of Independence: A Global History, writes that “If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature, it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves.” Surely the hypocrisy there isn’t lost on any of you.

The problem of one’s public commentary being vastly at odds with his private life is as old as the country itself. I knew once of a judge who had an affair with a young woman with a drug problem assigned to his Drug Court. He shared an addiction to pills with this woman with whom he also shared the pills forming the addiction. 

He, eventually entered a plea to an offense which, at the expiration of his sentence, came off his record and saved his pension. One has to wonder whether his position netted him favor not afforded those not nearly as well connected and/or powerful?  

Well, I really don’t wonder; the matter appears to me to speak for itself. As would be said in Latin, Res ipsa loquitor (The thing speaks for itself).

Now, older men have sex with young women over whom they have a degree of influence or power.  Sometimes the exercise of that influence or power overbears the young woman’s will making her concession less than willing, if we are being honest, which I strive to be.  

It was inappropriate for a sitting Circuit Court, Criminal Division Judge in Knoxville, Tennessee (where this former jurist was sitting at the time) to have sexual relations with a woman who was convicted of a drug offense and enrolled in Drug Court. That is especially true where he was the Judge who oversaw Drug Court. It bears no need in saying his sharing pills with her was wrong and purchasing controlled substances through her was equally wrong. 

The real issue here is the Judge’s public commentary as one who enforced the law against others, and insisted the defendants in his court not escape the consequences of their actions,  all the while, privately, he was as criminally bent as the worst to appear before him. It’s the equivalent of “…signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over…affrighted slaves.”

Many of you have never stood before a sentencing court, after having been found guilty of an offense, whether you committed it or not, awaiting just what sentence will be imposed upon you. I hope you never do. 

I have an acquaintance who described to me it feeling no different (at least to him) than what it must have felt like to be a slave on the auction block left to wonder what fine plantation will take to your oversight. He said it was the presiding judge who metaphorically brandished the whip over what amounts to little more than an affrighted slave.  

I told him what I am now telling all of you. At the very least, should you find yourself in such a plight, the slave should peer up toward the bench and see a just and honest man or woman whose private life isn’t hiding a public commentary reducing the speaker to nothing more than an intellectually dishonest hypocrite.  

This is your old uncle Abe Yokem and I am still up here SHOUTING FROM THIS MOUNTAIN-TOP!

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