Fighting the system

The Maryland Judiciary seemed to grow more thug-friendly during the reign of Parris Glendening.  This part-time academic proved to be the most partisan governor the state had ever seen.  His greatest damage might have been the selection of judges who seemed to have little concern for victims.
 
The system for selecting judges is allegedly non-partisan and above politics.  The truth is quite different.  The Maryland bench is often a nice resting place for a political hack who has difficulty chasing ambulances.
 
Judges initially appointed by a governor must face the voters in a contest where they allegedly run against their records.  But what record is there?  Legislators have records that are easily accessed and evaluated.  A wide range of interest groups provide scorecards.  No such information is available to rate the performance of judges.  The more self-important daily papers treat the so-called ‘sitting judges’ as sacrosanct and treat any opponents as upstarts and troublemakers.  To maintain the non-partisan façade, judicial candidates cross-file and appear on both major party ballots in the primaries and the primary winners go on to the General Election where they are typically without opponents.
 
A particularly nasty carjacking shocked the State Capital when two thugs shot and ran over a citizen.  A political hack in a black robe freed the two thugs on some specious grounds.  In the following election, two serious candidates filed as challengers to the three incumbents.
 
One was Paul Goetzke, a promising young attorney whose career seemed hampered by an accident that left him paralyzed.  He continued to work and got into the contrast with a promise to be tough on thugs.  He and his running mates were able to knock off two incumbents.
 
In one case, the defendant had a long record but little time in prison.  In his most recent escapade, the punk stole a car near Baltimore and drove it to Montgomery County.  He car-jacked another vehicle that had toddlers in the back seat.  He ignored the mother’s plea to release the children and drove towards the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  He made a U-turn and came close to hitting two police officers before being apprehended.  Upon conviction in Montgomery County and getting 40 years, he was sent to appear before Judge Goetzke. Before passing sentence, the judge noted that the defendant’s rap sheet was so long that time did not permit its full reading.  The defendant then made an outburst that called attention to the judge’s disability as an indicator of his worthlessness as a human being.  The judge then added another 30 years to the time to be served.  The delinquent then started to walk away from the bench as he had done at previous trials before he was restrained and informed that he would not be free for another 70 years.  He seemed shocked by this news.
 
Judge Goetzke has offended some criminal defense attorneys with his lack of sympathy for thugs.  One recent case involved a young man who used a paintball gun to shoot marbles at a moving automobile.  He had agreed to pay $500 in restitution but the judge upped the ante to $750.  The defense attorney protested and noted that the defendant needed to pay some child support.  One would think that the responsibilities of fatherhood would discourage dangerous acts of vandalism.
 
The majority party in the Maryland General Assembly seems eager to change the system of selecting judges so that the public will merely rubber stamp the hacks in black selected for their political loyalty rather than any expertise with