It doesn’t register, nor does it ever seem important the background of the person deciding your fate when you step into a court of law. My ignorance of the process has always led me to think that judges are highly qualified and can objectively look at a case based on their experience as an attorney.
Magistrates I always looked at them as the street smart judges. Not always attorneys, but have the smarts to make quick and sometimes compassionate decisions.
It wasn’t until I started looking into things that I said, “Whoa, hey, wait a minute.”
Now I speak only for what I have learned in Pennsylvania, specifically the Fifth Judicial District. – I am not a lawyer and I never took Civics, this is based on my observation as a layperson so correct and educate me where I am wrong.
If you want to look up for your state I caution you that it’s a rabbit hole of WTH moments.
It’s mind baffling. It literally sounds like something you’d read in a dystopian, totalitarian society novel.
How many of us really, really look into the background of judges when they appear on the ballot? Maybe you do, maybe you just trust the system. Because those on the ballot are heavily vetted by the judiciary committee of the bar association.
“A well-rounded field of candidates to fill seats.” A quote from an article said.
Judges are elected and seated for a ten-year term – yeah, that needs to stop.
But did you know, at least in this county, once elected, it’s anyone’s guess where they go. Why is it that way?
There are four areas in the Common Pleas court system: Criminal, Civil, Family, Orphans.
One person, the presidential judge makes the decision who serves where ( I think). And by looking at the backgrounds, there’s no rhyme or reason to it.
Why are these judges not elected to specific benches? When we vote, why aren’t we voting on Family Court Judges, Civil Judges and Criminal Judges?
We want former pubic defenders and prosecutors in the criminal court, Real estate and personal injury lawyers in Civil, family lawyers in Family Court.
No instead we have a former personal injury, eminent domain, and defense attorneys deciding the fate of our most precious commodity … our children.
They say in custody cases, the courts favor the mothers in 72% of the cases, In Allegheny County is it any wonder?
45 judges preside in the Court of Common Pleas. 46% are women.
YET, of the eighteen judges that preside in Family court, 72% of those judges are women.
Of the 12 judges in civil, 90% are men.
Criminal – 69% are men.
What is this saying? Male judges aren’t competent enough to make decisions in Family court. Or maybe women aren’t level-headed enough to make decisions in criminal or civil cases?
With 61% of all female judges in the Fifth Judicial System serving in Family Court, to me, it makes sense why it is so biased.
And look at the cases, go on, they’re public. One judge. Judge X, when a case was filed, ruled the mother could not withhold the child from the father. Yet, four weeks later the father filed an emergency petition because he still hadn’t seen his child.
What? Wait, didn’t Judge X just say a month earlier the mother couldn’t withhold? Four more weeks later, the father wanting to see his child, another petition … denied. Three months since originally filing, the father has filed again. Still hasn’t seen his child. This is what happens, they don’t care.
Judge X is out of family court now, bet she never gives the case a second thought. Yet that father feels hopeless, missing his child, over a decision she didn’t blink to make.
Sometimes I think being assigned Family Court is a punishment, clearly, you can have an open criminal case to run as a judge and decide the fate of a child, yet with that same record, you can’t work in a school cafeteria.
In reading over 30 cases, I have found in the last three months 90% of all emergency petitions were DENIED. Mother or father … it didn’t matter … denied.
The defendant is not innocent until proven guilty, this isn’t a criminal case. This is a child’s life, and the judges need to view it as such, look into the facts, and to the point that most of these emergency petitions aren’t filed out of spite, they are filed out of genuine concern.
The judges don’t see it that way because most didn’t start in family law.
In fact, only four of the current Family Court Judges have a background in family law. I'm talking about where they started, not tenure on the bench.
But whose fault is that? The people that elected them? They elect from the choices they are given.
The Presidential Judge makes choices on what he or she has.
Old habits are hard to break and it’s time for a change. When the people elect a judge they should be choosing which judge goes to which bench.
How can a fair and balanced fate be delivered when the process itself is not fair and balanced.
When a former public defender decides the fate of a child and a personal injury lawyer decides the fate of a criminal.
They are sworn to uphold the law … yep, I get it. But those who uphold the law should be experts in the law of the area they serve BEFORE they take that bench. Until that happens … unfathomable rulings will be made, unjust sentences handed out and true and fair justice will never be served a hundred percent.