Friday, March 11, 2011

Humiliation for the sake of what?

I had to take a detour this morning to the Family Law Center to wrap up a divorce case. As I approached the courthouse I saw a man walking down the sidewalk carrying a sandwich board. On the back of the board was the message "Dead Beat Dad."

My curiousity was piqued. I approached the man and asked him whether a judge had ordered him to wear the sign. He said yes.

The front of his sign stated that Judge James Lombardino was behind it.

I didn't know anything about Judge Lombardino. Seeing as how I didn't recognize the name I figured he must have been one of the Republicans swept into office this past November. So I decided to look him up on the internet.

Wouldn't you know it -- he promoted himself as being the "Conservative" in the race. (As an aside, if anyone can tell me why being conservative has anything to do with sitting on the bench, please let me know.) He aligned himself with such nut jobs as Dan Patrick and Ted Poe. And then the bell went off. When he sat on the bench, Ted Poe was known for shaming those who came before him.

In his blog Res Ipsa Loquitor, Jonathan Turley wrote about Ted Poe all the way back in 2005:
As elected officials, state judges know that few things please the public as much as hoisting a wretch in public. One Texas state judge, Ted Poe, was known as “The King of Shame” for his signature use of punishments like shoveling manure. Poe said that he liked to humiliate people because “[t]he people I see have too good a self-esteem.” Poe was so popular for what he called “Poe-tic Justice” that he literally shamed himself right into Congress and is now serving as a member of the House of Representatives.
And just what purpose is served by shaming someone? Does it stoke the ego of the judge? Does it allow a judge to feel better about himself because he's embarrassed someone else? Does it change what happened?

I much prefer Harris County Criminal Judge Larry Standley's approach. Instead of trying to humiliate someone who comes before his bench pleading guilty, Judge Standley treats the person with respect. He will tell someone they might be guilty of something but they shouldn't be ashamed. He will tell them to walk out of the courtroom with their head held high.

I don't know the name of the man ordered to walk up and down the block in front of the Family Law Center for four Fridays. I don't know the details of his case other than he was behind in his child support payments. I do know that Judge Lombardino's idea of "justice" doesn't change the fact that the man was behind in his payments.

It shows that Judge Lombardino is a very petty man who is more concerned about stoking his ego and drumming up support for the next election than he is about doing what's fair and equitable. Judge Lombardino and other judges who dole out humiliation from the bench are nothing more than black-robed bullies.

1 comment:

Billy Don said...

Back in the 80's his nickname was "Dumbardino".