The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Cashman Debate

Somethings are said to well, I have to post them in full.

Burlington Free | Opinion

Time is up for Judge Cashman

Published: Thursday, January 12, 2006
Judge Edward Cashman's tenure should come to an end.

This judge's recent decision to sentence a pedophile to as few as 60 days in jail is only the latest in a series of questionable rulings and inappropriate courtroom behavior going back more than two decades.

Cashman ought to resign. Failing that, when his retention on the bench comes before lawmakers in 2007, the Legislature should give this judge his walking papers.

This is not a recommendation made lightly. Judges face difficult decisions every day, and like anyone else, they are entitled to make honest mistakes. However, since Cashman was appointed to the court in 1982, he has repeatedly shown an insensitivity toward some victims, particularly women, and drawn public concern for actions that include:

Telling a 20-year-old rape victim in 1985 that she had seen "one of the harsh realities of life," prompting the woman to leave the courtroom in tears; he later apologized for the comment.

Having custodial decisions overturned by the Vermont Supreme Court in the late 1980s because he unfairly sided with the fathers; Cashman was barred for a time from presiding over divorce cases; a relatively large number of lawmakers -- 69 out of 169 present -- voted not to reconfirm the judge in 1989.

A decision to informally counsel potential defendants, in this case anti-abortion demonstrators, on how best to behave before the court. In a Jan. 11, 1989, editorial, The Burlington Free Press urged lawmakers to rebuke Cashman for tossing objectivity aside and implying support of those standing trial in his courtroom.

Advocates for battered women have complained about Cashman's insensitive treatment of female victims of abuse. It can be hard enough to persuade a battered woman to step forward and seek judicial protection under the best of circumstances, much less when facing a possible thoughtless comment from the bench.

The latest ruling is among the most appalling. The judge last week sentenced a child molester to as few as 60 days in jail, provided the offender received treatment for his deviancy and met other conditions. If that decision prevents even one child from seeking judicial protection from a sexual predator, it is worse than wrong -- it is dangerous.

The latest ruling has unfortunately provoked political grandstanding and calls for draconian sentencing changes. That's too bad, because this problem has nothing to do with politics.

Every Vermonter, regardless of age or gender, ought to expect fair and respectful treatment from every judge and justice in every courtroom. It's clear that women and children who come before Judge Cashman as victims cannot count on such an outcome.

That is unacceptable, and this judge's service on the bench should come to an end.

I just couldn't agree more.
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