California - Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell is patting herself on the back today for unbalancing the scales of justice. Once upon a time, judges where supposed to remain partial, unbiased and and rule from the bench based on the law on a case by case basis.
However, because Cordell was hit by a drunken driver on her way home "after a long day at the courthouse," back in 1984, she has taken upon herself to make sure that the punishment for drunk drivers never ends. Cordell has been a prime mover in prompting California lawmakers to go along with her plan to mandate that those convicted of DUI are punished in purpitituity by having breathalyzer devices installed on their vehicle ignitions.
When a murderer, bank robber, or a rapist get convicted, does their time in prison and is eventually released, that is what is know as paying your debt to society. As tragic as drunk driving is and the loss of life that is often a result of such carelessness, everyone has the right to have finality to their criminal convictions that does not exceed thier pre-determined probation or parole periods.
What is most disturbing is how openly vindictave Judge Cordell has been throughout her crusaide. Needless to say that any individual that lands in her court on drunk driving charges has zero chance of receiving a fair trial and why Cordell has been ordered to requse herself from heraing alcohol related cases boggles the mind.
"This man who wreaked havoc in my life received a fine, kept his driver's license, and was sentenced to serve a few weekends in jail. This was in November 1984." Cordell wrote in a story at SLATE.COM
I think the best course of action would be to focus on those things she just mentioned. Have lawmakers extend the perios of time that driver licences are suspended, triple the time convicted drunken drivers must serve in jail, empose life sentances to those who cause a death as a result of thier actions. However, statistics show that only a fraction of DUI convictions are repeat offenders, so why punish those who learn their lesson after the first time? - Why take away their right to have finality in repaying their debt to society?
"On May 28, 1987, I became the first judge in the state of California to order convicted drunken drivers to install ignition-interlock devices in their cars. The device is designed to stop people who have been drinking alcohol from starting their cars by requiring them first to blow into it. If there is alcohol on the driver's breath, the device will not allow the ignition system to operate."
Ordering convicted drunken drivers to install these devices seems to me a matter of common sense and basic safety. But in fact, the matter proved far more complicated. The California courts may soon require judges to follow Judge Cordells lead on ignition-interlock sentencing. But it has taken more than 20 years and new legislation, which is on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk awaiting his signature.
"Why has it taken so long? And why do we need a law mandating such an obvious safety measure when judges could put it into effect themselves?"
The answer to that is that Americans have rights even if they have committed the most unthinkable crimes. If you want to make this a condition of having a driver license in california, fine? - Have all new driver license applicants sing a form that states that they understand that if they are convicted of DUI, they will be required to have this device installed in their vehicle and at their own expence. And then we move forward.
But to go back and impose that this device be installed in the vehicle's of people that were convicted of DUI 5, 10, and as much as 20 years ago is a violation of consisituional rights that has never been seen before in this country.
In California, the bill on the governor's desk, which passed earlier this month, would require judges to order the installation of ignition-interlock devices in the vehicles of convicted first-time and repeat drunken drivers, as a pilot project in the counties of Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento, and Tulare.
If Gov. Schwarzenegger signs the bill, the pilot program would start in July 2010 and become statewide law in 2016. This legislation is supported by a wide array of law enforcement agencies, including MADD, which has changed its stance on ignition-interlock sentencing.
"Schwarzenegger should sign the bill. It will make our judges better. And it will make our streets safer. Finally." Cordell said smiling ear-to-ear. Revenge is sweet, isn't it? What champions always seem to leave out of the discussion is that this applies to all Californians that have "past tense" been convicted of DUI. Which we understand to mean in the last 20 years.
So, if you've been convicted of DUI between 1989 and today, you'll be receiving your notification from The Department of Motor Vehicles shorty after the law goes into effect. GOOD LUCK! - This is a life senatnce to a particular class of criminal who Judge Cordell has waged war upon and won.