I appreciate the Roundup’s election coverage and in particular the attention it has devoted to the Superior Court judge race, which is very important, but can be overlooked amidst the other, more attention-grabbing contests.
However, I need to correct an error in Alexis Bechman’s Friday (Aug. 1) article covering the judge candidates forum at the July 30 Tea Party meeting. In it she states that I said that I do “a lot of criminal defense work,” which is not the case. At present my practice consists almost exclusively of family law, juvenile and probate matters. Not that I refuse criminal cases, but right now, I don’t have any that I’m working on, and I have been quite active in this area in the past, both as a wet-behind-the-ears prosecutor 35 years ago and on the defense side back in the early part of the century.
I also would like to express my concern over the tenor of the debate relative to prosecutors vs. defense attorneys and whether one or the other makes for a better judge. The focus on which side of a case an attorney primarily appears is a poor way to evaluate judge candidates. Some prosecutors are good attorneys and some, not so good. Same with defense. At present, we have one sitting judge, Bob Duber, who has an exclusively prosecutorial background, and yet he is retiring due to a conflict with our current prosecutor. Judge Cahill, to my knowledge, has very little, if any in the way of criminal law background and Judge Scales was primarily a defense attorney ... I don’t know if he ever prosecuted. So what does that tell you? Next to nothing, really.
This misguided debate also ignores the fact that most of our Superior Court caseload, as much as 75 percent, is not criminal in nature, but rather family law (divorce, custody support, visitation, etc.), general civil cases, juvenile (delinquencies, dependencies, adoptions, severances), probate matters and the like.
Voters might want to consider what is going to be the learning curve for a career prosecutor who’s never handled these kinds of cases.
One thing your article got right: It is my position that experience matters in deciding who’s going to be our next Superior Court judge, and I hope voters will bear this in mind when weighing all the candidates’ qualifications.
Check mine out at www.chuckforjudge.com (“About Chuck” tab).