Monday, March 22, 2010

Single-Minded Ferocity

The political boycott of Rove Republican Racket member Dolores Carr, the elected District Attorney of Santa Clara, California (pictured), against Judge Andrea Y. Bryan is capturing national media.

We reported in January how Carr had provoked a political nuclear strike: a formal boycott of Judge Bryan as political retaliation. Judge Bryan accused one of Carr's deputy prosecutors of lying and engaging in "outrageous" prosecutorial misconduct when she dismissed a major criminal case.

Following on our lead, The New York Times is writing about the situation and the severe implications it could have on the independence of the judiciary.
Every Wednesday, prosecutors in Santa Clara County take part in a weekly ritual: as the new judges’ calendar goes online, they begin signing affidavit after affidavit to block cases from going before Judge Andrea Bryan. Since January, more than 100 cases originally assigned to Judge Bryan have been transferred to other judges in the San Jose courthouse at the request of the district attorney’s office.

While there had been earlier friction between Judge Bryan and Ms. Carr, the catalyst for the boycott came in January when Judge Bryan freed a convicted child molester. She ruled that a deputy district attorney on the case had lied about evidence and committed other “outrageous” acts of misconduct. 

In practice, a request for a judge to recuse herself is rare; it is almost never approached with the kind of single-minded ferocity seen in San Jose. There the effort has complicated the daily routine of administering justice and raised concerns that the prosecutor is exercising undue influence to sway judicial decisions. 

“If this is taken to its logical conclusion, you are talking about criminal defendants’ appearing before the judge chosen by the D.A,” said James Sample, a professor at the Hofstra Law School and the co-author of a 2008 report on recusal reform from New York University's School of Law. “It’s turning the scalpel of recusal into a chain saw to undermine judicial independence.”