In another special moment for the whole Rainbow Coalition, when Massiah-Jackson was informed that both the defendant and victim in a rape case had AIDS, she said: "Why are we having a trial? We are talking about life expectancy of three years for both of them. What difference? What kind of punishment can we give (the defendant)? ... What's the purpose of the trial long range?"
In light of the fact that Massiah-Jackson had just announced there was no purpose in trying the defendant, the prosecutor requested that the judge recuse herself. She refused, and the victim died while the recusal motion was on appeal. The trial proceeded before Massiah-Jackson, who sentenced the defendant to one year of probation, allowing him to serve no time for a vicious rape and beating. ("What's the purpose?")
Sentencing a defendant who had slashed a woman in the face with a straight razor while stealing her purse, Massiah-Jackson refused to apply a sentence enhancement for use of a deadly weapon. When the D.A. noted that the enhancement was required, the centrist judge accused her of being "vindictive." Massiah-Jackson was reversed on appeal for ignoring the enhancement.
Indeed, Massiah-Jackson was reversed in a number of criminal cases. But in response to the Judiciary Committee request that she provide a list of her reversals -- a pro forma request -- she repeatedly claimed she had not been reversed in a single criminal case.
After having been caught in this and other lies, "centrist" Massiah-Jackson decided to withdraw her nomination. The New York Times was in a high dudgeon. Not because Massiah-Jackson had sneered at AIDS victims and rape victims, shouted obscenities from the bench or outed undercover cops, but because of the "judicial mugging" the Senate had put her through. The judge at least would return to the state bench "with her honor intact," the Times editorialized. "Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the Senate."
Indeed, even after all this came out about Massiah-Jackson (despite the encumbrance of the judge's tendency to lie), she was avidly supported for a life-tenured federal judgeship by: The New York Times, top Philadelphia law firms, judges, Philadelphia Mayor Edward G. Rendell, the NAACP, the Barristers' Association of Philadelphia Inc., the Hispanic Bar Association, the Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley and -- surprise -- the Philadelphia Bar Association.
When Bush's judicial nominees come under attack from the same groups for failing to be duly "centrist," remember what they mean by that.
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