Criminal justice discussion

Respond to the stated question, including any relevance to and implications on the field of criminal justice. Be sure to discuss the issue(s) to which the question pertain(s). Remarks can include your opinion(s), but must be based on experience, research, and/or prior learning. Use this exercise to foster a rich dialogue with your colleagues about issues that are important to the field of criminal justice.

During the span of the discussion, you must post to this board on four unique days.

Your initial posting must be no less than 350 words. The day you post will count as one of your required four unique postings.

You will also be required to post responses to at least three of your colleagues’ initial postings. Responses must be no less than 100 words, be posted on at least three unique days, and are due no later than Thursday at 11:59 PM EST/EDT.

STATED QUESTION:

The article for this module’s active learning discussion highlights another side of the Justice System: The courts and the legislature.

Click here to read, “Judges On Wrong Side Of The Law,” by the Associated Press. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/judges-on-wrong-side-…

This link can also be accessed in the Links tool.

Though the acts do not necessarily talk about the criminal justice system, they talk about white collar crime; judges that should be impartial and legislators that should be concerned with laws that are beneficial to the people and not special interests.

The question we should ask ourselves is, how can we work to improve the judicial and legislative system’s ethics to make them as free from corruption as possible?

Public trust is an important factor and your views and thoughts as to creating a more ethical environment in the judiciary and legislative branches of government is sought. Please discuss and have a lively discourse on this very important topic.

NOTE: MOST judges and legislators, like most police officers, are honest; this is not an impeachment of the system but a sharing of views as to how we can make it a better system.

This article is from the Associated Press. If political parties were removed from the context, it would be applicable to both parties.

1.

As discussed in previous modules for this course, ethical behavior should be the foundation of each and every professional working within the criminal justice system (CJS). The case studies presented throughout this course thus far have provided numerous examples of unethical behavior committed by supposed CJS professionals, i.e. police officers, DAs, and now, judges; individuals that should be protecting the public, but instead are depleting the public’s trust of the very system designed to protect and serve society.

This week’s article by CBS News (2003), discusses several corrupt judges serving the bench in Brooklyn, NY; students are tasked with providing ideas to “improve the judicial and legislative system’s ethics to make them as free from corruption as possible”. As with any organizational entity, the cultural tone is set at the top; the judicial system serves as the ‘top’ of the CJS. As such, “judges and the courts deliver a service to society – justice – and, like other service providers, should be accountable for their decisions and actions. Judges are accountable for their decisions to higher courts, but their wide discretion in decision making can result in “selective justice”, that is, not applying the same standards to every case, and can also veil corruption.” (Jennett, 2014).

Module 6 illustrated the importance of civilian review boards and the beneficial oversight they provide police agencies. In similar fashion, the judicial and legislative branches would benefit from comparable civilian review boards. In addition, this researcher has quoted British historian Lord Acton numerous times throughout this course in researcher papers and posts, and firmly subscribes to Acton’s quote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men”; it is because of this rationale, this researcher believes in addition to judicial civilian review boards, all judges should be subject to routine psychological examinations, especially those with lifelong appointments.

The article involving corrupt judges presented in Module 7 is sadly not an isolated incident. The internet is fraught with judicial corruption narratives. This researcher believes some judges tend to develop a “God-like” complex that invariably negatively affects their decision-making abilities; this complex, coupled with a lack of continued ethical training, renders judges vulnerable to corruption and leads to behavior that is no longer rooted in an ethical foundation. And, “when the judicial system is corrupt, justice cannot be done” (Jennett, 2014).

2.

A grand jury investigation was launched by the district attorney in Brooklyn after Judge Victor Barron was convicted for three- to nine years sentence in prison for bribing people of thousands of dollars and a Brooklyn judge was arrest for accepting gifts from a corrupt lawyer (Grace, 2003).

Cases like this are not uncommon in the realm of legislators in today’s criminal justice system. The problem with a corrupt legal system is that voters only get to pick delegates representative but not the judges themselves. Therefore, wealthy politicians can influence the nominations towards certain judicial representatives that support those politician’s views and are tied to the friend circle.

It appears that you must know someone to be elected. Your legal credentials are not what get you elected its who you know. This leads to judges and legislators who are not impartial or concerned with the common wealth of the community but instead they act on their own selfish interests.

It’s stories like these that make the criminal justice system lose credibility and therefor lose the public’s trust. Judges and legislators should only be focused on what is beneficial to the people. When politicians get involved to make sure certain judges are elected to benefit their causes in the future it completely neglects the purpose of the court system. The judges in court are to strive for fairness and excellence in the work they provide. This means their job is to stay impartial and act independent of any outside pressure so that the jury can make the best decision.

To improve the current judicial and legislative system and eliminate corruption independent judge-selection panels should be in place so that the public can choose the judge they find best fit and not let it be in the politician’s discretion. Nonpartisan elections would also ensure that political parties do not interfere with elections. During these types of elections each candidate can address their individual responses on current issues and how they plan to eliminate these issues. This way voters can listen to each candidate and learn about their background, intentions and perspective and then make a decision from there.

3.

When we look at our discussion this week, it describes how money always wins. Even though, Judge Baron stated, “no one is above the law” (Grace, 2003). This is only true when the individual or group of people finally get caught. As in the article he has been a judge for 14 years, and I’m sure most of the time he was in good standings with the law, however everyone always eventually gets caught in the trap. Like stated above money always wins! This means that although a person has a good job, nice salary, they always find a way to want or need more.

Money that was used in this article along with the example I will discuss below is called hush money. Hush money is a bribe given to an individual to keep a secret (US legal, 2016). This can be a small amount to get out of a speeding ticket to a large amount of money or goods and services to keep the individual quiet. It usually starts off small and gets larger or more advanced the longer in the business or the more severity of the topic that needs to be handled. The secret is usually information that is illegal, shameful behavior or action, and/or facts about a person or things they have done in their past. Hush money is illegal and can’t be used in any career field especially in the criminal justice career field.

An example that can relate to this article is when Michael Cohen (Donald Trump’s lawyer) paid Stephanie Clifford $130,000 to keep quiet about a consensual affair she had with Trump while he was married (Dorf, 2018). Cohen claimed he paid her out of money in his own pocket. As a lawyer, this breaks ethic rules that are in place to prevent corruption. He claimed he did it out of friendliness for his friend and not as a gift to a client. So, this leads us to the question, how can we work to improve the system to make them free from corrupt as possible? I found a few ways to help eliminate corruption in the legal system. While in law school ensure to provide proper ethics training and ensure there is a section on the bar exams (UN Women, 2012). Another example is, “to draft a code of ethics and professional responsibility and standards of conduct for legal and judicial actors in the justice system. This will provide a foundation for training, monitoring, and hearing complaints on ethical matters (UN Women, 2012)”. When there is an established foundation in ethics it will result in long-term effects and assist in less corruption in the legal system.

As discussed in previous modules for this course, ethical behavior should be the foundation of each and every professional working within the criminal justice system (CJS). The case studies presented throughout this course thus far have provided numerous examples of unethical behavior committed by supposed CJS professionals, i.e. police officers, DAs, and now, judges; individuals that should be protecting the public, but instead are depleting the public’s trust of the very system designed to protect and serve society.

This week’s article by CBS News (2003), discusses several corrupt judges serving the bench in Brooklyn, NY; students are tasked with providing ideas to “improve the judicial and legislative system’s ethics to make them as free from corruption as possible”. As with any organizational entity, the cultural tone is set at the top; the judicial system serves as the ‘top’ of the CJS. As such, “judges and the courts deliver a service to society – justice – and, like other service providers, should be accountable for their decisions and actions. Judges are accountable for their decisions to higher courts, but their wide discretion in decision making can result in “selective justice”, that is, not applying the same standards to every case, and can also veil corruption.” (Jennett, 2014).

Module 6 illustrated the importance of civilian review boards and the beneficial oversight they provide police agencies. In similar fashion, the judicial and legislative branches would benefit from comparable civilian review boards. In addition, this researcher has quoted British historian Lord Acton numerous times throughout this course in researcher papers and posts, and firmly subscribes to Acton’s quote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men”; it is because of this rationale, this researcher believes in addition to judicial civilian review boards, all judges should be subject to routine psychological examinations, especially those with lifelong appointments.

The article involving corrupt judges presented in Module 7 is sadly not an isolated incident. The internet is fraught with judicial corruption narratives. This researcher believes some judges tend to develop a “God-like” complex that invariably negatively affects their decision-making abilities; this complex, coupled with a lack of continued ethical training, renders judges vulnerable to corruption and leads to behavior that is no longer rooted in an ethical foundation. And, “when the judicial system is corrupt, justice cannot be done” (Jennett, 2014).

 

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