SARGE: All Hands On Deck

So; I’m sitting on the sofa when I get an alert from the local paper, The Advocate, and it says there’s a story by Joe Gyan Jr. concerning the race for the 19th Judicial District Court. It seems the incumbent, Mike Caldwell, Div. “I” has been covering the Civil Court action and doesn’t receive very many cases concerning Criminal Code violations. This is because he chooses his case load as is allowed. Caldwell says this is “both constitutionally sound and legislatively authorized, and something that’s been done for more than four decades”. Caldwell also added: “It is much more efficient to do it that way”. “It’s the only efficient way to see that justice is done.” Maybe it’s time to stop doing things as they’ve always been done simply because they benefit the judges and not the aggrieved party before the bar. Sixty-two other parishes have judges required to hear any and all cases needing judicial review. The only other maverick jurisdiction is Orleans parish.

It would seem Caldwell’s not receiving a heavy caseload of the Criminal variety might be a good thing. He was the judge who upon receiving a guilty plea allowed Cecil “The Diesel” Collins to go free on five years of probation after Collins broke into the abodes of two young women and fondled them sexually without their consent.

Collins pled guilty to two individual and separate counts. Now where have we seen this type of activity taken place recently; you know where an LSU football player was found to be in possession of illicit drugs and having them in his system and he got probation from a well-meaning but misguided judge? Could it have been Tyrann Mathieu who was found to be in possession of weed with two other LSU players? He got probation and was summarily dumped from the LSU team after failing drug tests, but ultimately got drafted by the Arizona Cardinals.

But this isn’t about scandalized young men pampered and preened and deified for their athletic prowess. This is about ignorant people think they’re somehow doing these clowns a favor by NOT holding them accountable for their actions because they are LSU alumni.

Mr. Caldwell let a sex offender essentially go free with little more supervision than a scheduled visit to a Probation and Parole Office and assurances he can occasionally urinate into a cup without setting it afire. As a testament to the judgment handed down by Mr. Caldwell, Cecil Collins went on to fame and glory as a player for the Miami Dolphins before breaking into another apartment (this time in Miami) so he could “watch the lady sleep”. Collins pulled a 13 year stretch in the penitentiary.

When Collins was transferred back to Baton Rouge for a possible revocation of his probation causing him to serve the five year sentence he’d escaped; Mr. Caldwell took it upon himself to rule against the wishes of the District Attorney and set Collins free of that punishment. This act was akin to spitting in the face of the victim and should be noted as such.

Caldwell said: “I felt that putting him back in jail would just be exacting a pound of flesh at the expense of taxpayers who pay for incarceration.” It’s possible the original victim might have a suggestion as to where that particular pound of flesh could be extracted from.

It seems Mr. Caldwell has little to no respect for those he lauds his title over. He’s says he’s proud of his record. Would that be the record where he places women all over the nation in jeopardy of molestation because he put a known, admitted, and convicted sexual predator back on the street? He seems to NOT  understand the feelings of the victims of the crime or the potential victims not knowing they’ve been saved a few bucks by putting the criminal back on the street before he can suffer for his actions.

Justice is NOT a concept left open solely for the criminal’s benefit. It means the punishment will be in alignment with the crime committed against the victim. Justice is for the victim, not the accused and convicted. The convict is due a just and appropriate punishment; NOT a probated sentence because of his special talents or athletic prowess and celebrity. It seems if you play a sport in Louisiana, you don’t have to do the time for the crime you do.

But the judge is no better that allows this inequity to exist. Judgment is a matter of perspective. Caldwell says he enforces the law according to the Constitution as it’s written. In fact any judge adjudicates as it applies to the specific issue at hand. They don’t make judgments based on generalities.

In light of the fact crime across the nation, and specifically in the 19th JDC, is growing at an alarming rate we need all hands on deck as opposed to a Judicial Officer below decks prognosticating about Maritime Law.

Thanks for listening.



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