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'Proper Role as a Judge'

August 13, 1985

It is with great dismay that I find a law professor of my alma mater indulging in intellectual chicanery in your newspaper.

Moore, in his article (July 31), "Rose Bird Should Go," concludes that the chief justice has allowed her personal opinion to interfere with her duties because she has voted against the death penalty in all 37 opinions of the Supreme Court, which have involved the penalty during her tenure.

He admits, however, that each such opinion of the chief justice was based upon a point of law, substantive or procedural. He totally ignores the fact that in most of the 37 opinions at least three other justices also voted the same way as the chief, otherwise the penalty would have been upheld in all of those cases. He tosses those legal points aside as trivial, thus begging the entire question.

All judges are human beings made up of a totality of differing degrees of education and experience. Whether a point of law is trivial or important depends upon how one's experience causes him or her to view the amount of care the state must take as it goes about its killing duties. By the professor's own writings that evaluation should not be based upon the shifting standards of the mob and surely he doesn't suggest the defendant's killing standards be resorted to as some would urge.

There are seven voices on the Supreme Court. When the state meets the legal standards for execution set by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Legislature sufficient to convince four of those voices the legal killing will resume and, presumably, Moore will again be happy. The lone voice of Rose Bird will not stop it, but her voice will give the others pause to carefully think about their deadly task.

In the meantime, Moore should have the guts of his prejudice and just come right out and say he's just another Bird-hater. His attempt to conceal this in his long twisted essay hasn't fooled anyone.


Judge, Superior Court


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