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Letters to the Editor, Nov. 22 

Judicial speech

I find the argument of attorney Robert Trammell (Nov. 8, “Must Judges Talk”) not merely puzzling, but absolutely unconvincing. Trammell argues that, in struggling against disciplinary action by the Arkansas Judicial and Disciplinary Commission for exercising his right to free speech, Judge Wendell Griffen is “right about free speech … but wrong on an absolute scale.”

In Trammell's view, “If America ever reached a time when the judge you drew had prejudices or inclinations known to all, there would be no perception by lawyer or lay person of a fair system of justice.”

I couldn't disagree more strongly. It is not because we are apprised of the prejudices or inclinations of judges that we conclude judges act with bias. It is because we can perceive that those biases are there but unacknowledged that we lay persons become critically aware of judicial bias.

I find it impossible to imagine a judge who lacks “prejudices or inclinations.” Having grown up in the household of an attorney (who ran several times unsuccessfully for judicial positions), I learned that every judge I knew — and those seeking judicial positions such as my father — had manifold commitments and interests.

That being the case, it is better for lay persons like me to know precisely what we are up against. I have had a single experience of being before the court in Arkansas, as the guardian of my mother. That was a dismal experience precisely because of the strong biases of the judge in question, which, I have discovered, are based in religious viewpoints that allow her to treat some citizens differently. Since that bias was never acknowledged in her dealings with me, and since no watchdog group or supervisory board calls the judge to be accountable for her prejudices, she continues to have carte blanche to inflict pain on other families in which a gay or lesbian family member is providing care for an aged parent.

I notice in your Nov. 8 issue that an attorney closely connected to the judge in question has now announced her intent to seek office. Before casting a vote for that attorney (or, indeed, any attorney seeking a judgeship), I would very much like to know the judge's political affiliation, her outlook on key social issues and how her religious affiliations affect her judicial attitudes. I would like to know if she is indebted to any interest group or to sitting judges.

Free exchange of information is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy. We cannot have a healthy democracy or healthy judiciary when we are forced to buy pigs in pokes by voting for judges about whom we have little concrete knowledge. Judges themselves cannot exercise impartiality until they admit and face their biases, in free and open exchange involving the public.

W.D. Lindsey

Little Rock

The immigrant question

I am amazed when I read the condemnation Alan Leveritt expressed for others that think differently on the issue of immigrants. Have you no regard for the laws of this country? Would you feel the same way if the illegals were highly gifted Europeans coming in droves to possibly alleviate your job?

I happen to think the three state representatives he trashed are the finest in this state.

If he wants to take these people into his home and support them and pay for their medical and social services that is his right. I want my taxes to be shared with persons showing regard for our country and persons wanting to become Americans. These folks can wait forever in line to get here as far as I am concerned because we have enough criminals in our country already. Stealing Social Security numbers and falsification of documents is a FELONY. Many immigrants are common criminals and deserve to be deported immediately.

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