David A. Harris is Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh, where he teaches criminal law and procedure, evidence, and homeland security. He wrote an Op-Ed for Jurist The title of the article is Judges Sentencing Children for Kickbacks: A Special Kind of Infamy
He writes The courts are there to set things straight – to see that those who are injured by the carelessness of others get the compensation they deserve, and that the criminals who prey on the rest of us get what they have coming. They must do all of this with fairness and equal justice. Judges sit as the very embodiment of the rule of law – the idea that no man or woman is above the rules, and that they apply equally to everyone. We know that our system isn’t perfect – not every case comes out right, nor does every judge make every decision fairly. But these cases are the exception: Americans can justifiably see our allegiance to the rule of law as one of the crown jewels of our democracy. And the judiciary has largely lived up to its role as the keepers of this vital part of our constitutional government, year in and year out.
His outrage at this crime was not unexpected however the last paragraph defines how deep his sentiments reach over the perception of his profession.
I’ve read that both Ciavarella and Conahan have entered into plea agreements that specify they will each receive 87 month sentences – a bit more than seven years in prison. I generally feel that our system is too punitive, especially compared to other democracies around the world. But in this instance, I don’t think seven years is nearly enough for the harm they did to the system of justice, to our collective belief in the rule of law, to these children, and to their families. I’m going to write to Judge Edwin Kosik of Federal District Court in Scranton, PA, who will decide their sentence. I’ve never done anything like that before, but it seems to me this case calls for it. I simply cannot be silent.