A Judge, A Kiddie Porn Case, and a Surprise

–by Lenore Skenazy….Judge Jack Weinstein has always thought, and ruled, outside the social norms, especially when it came to mandatory minimums, which he detested. Recently a friend dropped me a note about him — an appreciation, really — first sending a link to this story about a 2008 child porn possession trial Weinstein presided over. According to the New York Post:

In a decision that turns hundreds of years of legal precedent on its head, a judge ruled yesterday that juries should be made aware of “harsh mandatory minimum” sentencing rules in certain cases.

Maverick Brooklyn federal Judge Jack Weinstein issued the ruling in a child-porn case over which he presided – chastising himself for not telling the jury that the defendant faced a minimum five-year sentence before it found him guilty.

The drastic ruling says juries should be told what sentences certain criminals face, especially if the prison terms are particularly long.

Drastically fair, is what it sounds like to me. That’s apparently what my friend, Mark Headley, thinks, too. Weinstein was his professor:

Judge Weinstein was a hero to me since law school, and always will be. Not just as a judge, a jurist, a law professor, a scholar, etc., but also — as I felt privileged to witness in some brief exchanges in Court, and at alumni functions when I was a young lawyer — as a great, great man…. an outstanding role model in every respect I could see. Whoever knew him and wasn’t intimidated or ideologically dismissive [appreciated him].

One of our assignments in his Evidence class was to come sit beside him as he presided in Court, in his judge’s chambers for a day. I’m inclined to say he was impeccably heroic. But of course no one’s perfect, and Judge Weinstein might well be disturbed, even alarmed, if anyone foolishly cast him or anyone else as impeccable. So I’ll stick to revering him.

As for me, I can’t see how NOT letting a jury know the impact of its decision makes any sense, in terms of justice. Kudos to the judge for seeking that golden commodity.- L.S.

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      Calvin J Stone

      Can you tell what the judge did? I know not telling the Jury, on the scale of judgement, but it looks like he ruled like he should have by the states law.

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