Blog Post

Weak Judges Cause Chaos

What do you do with a bad judge? That is the question that comes up in my practice an awful lot. I do not mean bad as in crooked. I mean bad as in doesn't know the rules or won't follow the rules.

Recently I had a preliminary hearing in a criminal case. What is a preliminary hearing? A preliminary hearing is a constitutional safeguard to make sure the prosecuting authority (Prosecuting Attorney in Missouri) does not file frivolous felonies.

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The purpose of the hearing is to prove to the judge that there is enough evidence to allow the case to go forward. The burden of proof is very low. All the government has to show is "probable cause."

The problem is that I see judges who let prosecutors get away with not following the rules of evidence in these hearings. I see judges who either don't know, or don't care about the basic principles of criminal law. They demonstrate an attitude of not caring about the rights of the accused.

Now I know there are those among you who say, "too bad. Those people are criminals." But that is the point. When I am in court representing someone on a criminal or DUI case I am protecting not only their rights but the rights of all Americans.

Courts are supposed to stand up to the State and when they do not do their job, throw the case out. They can re-file it if they have the evidence. But to say, "Well, they can bring that in later." is just not right. And that is the way some judges behave.

In the rural areas of Missouri we elect judges. The problem is they don't make a lot of money and so the people, in many instances who run for judge, are not the best attorneys. That is not to say there are not some damned fine judges in rural Missouri. There are. But there are many who just should not be on the bench.

Some judges act like it would be a sin to not go along with what the prosecutor wants. Part of the reason for that is the fact that the prosecutor also runs for office and frequently has strong political ties. So, if the judge angers the prosecutor, the judge may draw an opponent in the next election cycle.

Judges need to remember that their job is not to help convict the accused. It is to stand up for the rights of the accused. If you are one of those judges who have forgotten what you are supposed to be doing, contact me. I will be glad to give you a refresher course on the constitution and how or government is supposed to run.