Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Honor killing, juvenile sentencing and judges

I know the two concepts are scarcely related, but the language I've highlighted, below, from a longer article about the increase in honor killings amonst German Muslims put me in mind of the fact that our Supreme Court relied on "international" law to justify changing the death penalty rules regarding 17 year old murders:

At the juvenile prison in the Berlin suburb Plotzensee, six of the current 529 inmates are serving time of six years and more for manslaughter in so-called 'honor crimes.' All come from the Muslim world. Aged between 18 and 22, one of them, an Afghan national, was 16 when he helped relatives kill a widowed aunt who had refused to marry her brother-in-law. Prison director Marius Fiedler said most of the murders are often carefully plotted in the family with the support of all, including women. 'Usually the patriarch selects the youngest son to carry out the crime because he knows that judges in Germany don't usually give the maximum sentence of 10 years to a minor for manslaughter,' he said. Fiedler admitted that getting the inmates, who undergo psychological therapy, to reform or change their attitudes is difficult. 'Many come from rural areas in Turkey or Lebanon and just don't know the concept of individualism,' he said. 'They don't feel any regret for what they did though some even kill their favorite sister. Instead, they're honored and feel like martyrs for having been chosen to carry out the crime.'
To get back for a minute to our Supreme Court justices, I'm just curious about where in our Constitution it says anything about applying fuzzy international standards to American law. This has nothing to do with my stance on the death penalty (about which I'm ambivalent), and everything to do with the fact that our own Supreme Court justices are steadily destroying our American system of law and constitutionalism. I hasten to add here that I do not think that the Supreme Court's conduct was aberrant. My almost 20 years experience in the judicial system has amply demonstrated that, more than any other people I've ever come in contact with, judges have profound disdain for our laws and legal system. With rare, very rare, exceptions, the judges with whom I've dealt have believed that they are in contact with some higher truth that frees them from the confines of case law precedent and statutory law. I don't think I will ever recover from the time I appeared before a judge, on behalf of a defendant, to argue that the plaintiff's case was invalid, since the core claim at issue had been resoundingly rejected by the legislature some years before. The judge acknowledged that I was correct about the law, but nevertheless refused to dismiss the case, musing that, "I think there's something there." Ten years later, his private ruminations proved to have been entirely wrong, but by that time my client had run up over $1 mil in attorneys fees to defend against these factually baseless and legally invalid charges. UPDATE: For a good post that also comments on our judges' belief that they can shoot from the hip, check out this at the Right Wing News.