Is "compassionate judge" an oxymoron? Does it connote a sinner or a savior? Is it something you are born with, or do you develop it, as your own experiences in life stake their claim? Does it make you an "activist judge"? And, by the way, that term has become a prostitute for argument; if someone disagrees with your ruling, that's what you are; if your words meet with approval, you are a strict constructionist, a true American, who's not gonna change a word that appears in the constitution. As if the framers, way back then, could envision today's society. Did Thomas Jefferson own an iphone or a droid? Does the right to bear arms include homemade plague? Was Samuel Adams a member of the Tea Party? Would the founding fathers have frequented Supercuts? (wouldn't have done them any harm).
Is compassion, in a judge, frowned upon, or even condemned by the "majority", whatever the hell that means? If media attitude is an accurate reflector, then the answer is a resounding "yes." In the eyes of too many, a compassionate judge is a criminal coddler.
"If he committed the crime, he's gotta do the time!"
Not so fast, ma man. Too broad a brush for me.
EVERY case is different when it comes time to decide an appropriate sentence.
Statutes have no provisions for compassion. Juries are specifically instructed to disregard it when deliberating. It won't make it through the first door of any penal institution.
For a judge to exercise compassion takes COURAGE. But, if a case, in all of its parameters, calls for it, then it should be utilized. If what is done is fair, then it is just.
And, no camouflaging it. The reasoning of the Court should be made a matter of record, for all to see. "I did what I thought was right, and here's why."
With regard to those most skeptical of my opinion, hypothetically, should they, or a family member, be convicted or plead guilty to a crime, will not their foremost prayer be that the Judge be compassionate?
For clarity purposes, it is not my contention that this is appropriate in every case, but when it is, a Judge should not be afraid to do what he/she believes justice requires, the inclusion of compassion, notwithstanding. If heat comes, take it. Comes with the job.