Thursday, August 24, 2006

Northampton County Judge Pleads Guilty to Poor Grammar, not Racism

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWhen someone appears before a judge to plead guilty, he better be prepared to admit he did something wrong or he's getting nowhere. And that's the problem with Judge Moran's apology, as reported last night on Channel 69. He admits nothing.

A few weeks ago, when sentencing a white juvenile, here's what Judge Moran said: "I can look out at the family, they are middle class, white, just as I am, and I say would the same thing happen if it was a black kid or Hispanic kid? So I want you to know that you are being given a break, and I hope that everybody in this room would give the same break to everybody." He was effectively telling this boy he got a "break" because he's white.

In his supposed apology today, he just digs a deeper hole. Now he's saying this is what he really meant: "When I have a young white teenager in front of me who has all the benefits of society and he is treated leniently, it's important to point out to him that people of color, different ethnicity might conclude we have two systems of justice."

His earlier statement, he explains, was "inarticulate."

Huh?

This is the first time I've heard a racial slur explained as poor grammar. Ron Angle should have tried that one. Moran's explanation is baloney, and was designed to cover his tracks for what was clearly a racial remark. I understand this is how the system works, but never thought I'd ever hear a local judge admit he gives "breaks" to people based on their race. He had an opportunity to apologize, but opted instead to do some spinning. I hope his statement to the written media is better than the garbage he handed to Channel 69.

As I told you yesterday, Moran's behavior has been erratic. He started screaming two weeks ago in the courthouse rotunda (in the presence of the public) over the placement of Northampton County's Liberty Bell. He had to send a written apology to local lawyers who were subjected to one of his tirades in a social setting. And on the bench, he has been known to fly off the handle without warning, and thinks nothing of making lawyers and their clients wait for an hour or more after he schedules a court session.

Now this kind of behavior is normal for a blogger. We're nuts. But a judge?

I knew Bill Moran when he was just a lawyer and he was one of the nicest guys in the world. I hope, for his own sake, that he gets help. If he doesn't, he needs to resign because his judicial temperament is gone. Without that, he is going to start hurting others.

Moran's Explanation to the Press:

The Express Times this morning published Moran's attempted explanation of his bizarre behavior, in which he claims he was misunderstood and challenges anyone to point to any remarks he's ever made that shows otherwise. Well, gee, Judge, see above. His explanation lacks three simple but very important words - I am sorry. Even a judge needs to admit when he's wrong.

The Express Times put it best this morning, when it concluded Moran's remarks may not have gone far enough "to indict any one jurist or a system, but enough to erode some people's confidence in the courts' duty to be fair."

25 comments:

SPIKE_ROGAN said...

Maybe he should just say he's sorry and that what he really meant to say was: " If you were black or pueto rican I'd toss your dark skinned ass in the can ASAP."

I mean thats what he was beating around the bush to say.

His mentality not mine.

Bernie O'Hare said...

His "explanation" is as tortured as his actual comments. Hoe hard is it to say I am sorry?

Bernie O'Hare 4 said...

I really can't even understand his sentencing statement. "...I hope that everybody in this room would give the same break to everybody." Wasn't he the only judge in the room at the time to give those breaks?? In one breath he attacks the kid for being a middle class white kid who's had it too good in life, then in the next he says because of that fact, you get a break, take it easy. Maybe he's bipolar. Anyway, I go to the #2 party school in america, so I'm not capable of understanding these things anyway, back to partying!!

LSTresidentPIA said...

Uhm, I don't mean to be the English major that I wanted to be, but I don't think the use of the term grammer is an appropriate term to be used regarding speech. Grammer ususally refers to written words doesn't it? When refering to speakin or speech, the appropiate term is vocabulary?

Aren't judges the ultimately moaral authority who are charged with not only enforcing the law, but the undefined moral aspects of the law also?

Bernie O'Hare said...

To LSTresidentPIA: Grammar is the study of how words and their component parts combine to form sentences. Judge Moran concedes "an ill-formed articulation" of his views, i.e. bad grammar. Bad grammar can exist in both the written as well as spoken word.

I don't believe Judge Moran had the right to tell a white kid he was getting a break because he was white. That may not be what he meant to say, but that is what he said. And his "explanation" is as inartful as his original comments.

If he wants be articulate, he could say this - "I am sorry." Nothing inarticulate about that. Good grammar, too.

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

The point people are missing is that this is not overt racisim, but that sneeky kind of racism that is inbedded into someone's actions and words. The frightening thing is that Moran openly admitted on the bench that this happens and that, apparently, he is party to it!!!

The timing is interesting in that the Lehigh U bankrobber (Hogan) just got a real light sentence for robbing a bank. Would someone named Juan or Kwamie get the same sentence? My bet is absolutly not!!! The racisim is built into the system and will continue as long as we have Judges who see race as an issue.

As a LV transplant who comes from an integrated hometown, I see and hear this all of the time. Ron Angle, the racist-bigot that he is, is the best example of this. He will openly refer to "these people" and "those people" on the radio all the time. This is racism!!! The fact that he trys to deny it make sit that much worse.

This, Bernie, is not something that you can or should overlook. Just because Angle doesn't wear his KKK outfit into civilization, doesn't mean you can overlook this "personality glitch." Nor should we overlook a Judge who admits that a white guy gets a better deal than a black or hispanic guy.

Racisim and bigotry are a big problem and teh only way to stop it is to confront it head-on. Kudos for doing that with Moran. Next you should look at your buddie Ron I never met a Jew or Black Man I ever liked Angle.

Dem Fly on the wall said...

You know, if you change the "a" in his last name to an "o" you get a more accurate nom de plume.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To Anon,

You're criticism of me is fair enough. I have heard Ron refer to people with different ethnic backgrounds like illegal immigrants as "those people" while he's on the air. He did it this week with Tim Cuevas, a Puerto Rican guest, and Ron's friend. I cringe when Angle talks like that, but I've never confronted him about that specifically. (Believe me, we have had heated discussion about racism and anti-Semitism.) As you point out, this kind of language is a form of latent racism. Some call it insensitivity. Take your pick. I will talk to Ron the very next time I hear him talk like that, on or off the air.

I believe Moran is probably in the same category. And just like Ron, he vigorously denies it in his lengthy op-ed to The Express Times in which "methinks he doth protest too much." He needed to say three little words - I am sorry.

What is more troubling about Moran's remarks is that they undermine the credibility of the entire system in this area. I am sure the DA had to be furious when he heard what Moran had said, especially since Morganelli himself has been called a racist both by immigration officials and some Philly Dems.

Although I disagree strongly with Morganelli's stand on issues like illegal immigration, I don't think his motivation is racism and he must have been very hurt by those accusations. So imagine how he must have felt when he hears that one of his own judges is telling some white kid that he's lucky he's white.

Bernie O'Hare said...

DemFly, Many have made that observation, but none have ever done so in published form until now. See you in three to six. Damn! Just when we were getting our blog affair going again, too!

LSTresidentPIA said...

Everone is prejudice in some form or another. Not all of it is based on skin color. It is illegal to discriminate not be prejudiced.

I think it is ok that someone speaks up and stands up for the white guys. We are not all bad. We want people to stop judging each other on skin color which is appearance then stop making it an issue. As far as I know I should not be hated becuase I am white and I didn't grow up in a diversified neighborhood. People hate each other for all kinds of reasons.

Black folks dicriminate agaisnt whites all the tim, there are even TV channels that are focused to certian ethnic backgrounds. But where is all the fuss overthat blantant discrimination?

4eyes said...

Call me naive, call me stupid, but race does exist in this world. It's difficult not to notice race. However, having been the token white kid 'bussed' to the black school in the '60s, I think I've about seen as much so called 'racism' as anyone reading your blog Bernie.
Maybe you need to read the Judge's exact words with a little less preconceived bias. My first reading of his words was admittedly colored by your prior comments and writings about the Judge and his behavior. However, after rereading those same words one more time, I understood a point you may have missed. In stating he hoped everyone in this room would "give the same break to everybody", he was in fact directing those present should look less on the fact the party in question was white, black, hispanic or martian, and be willing to give anyone the same situation a break, as he was afforded.
Instead of being so quick to cry racism, we should all practice some tolerance and forgiveness for stepping on one's tongue.
It really sounds as though you have a personal ax to grind with the Judge. Just my own miopic observation.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To LSTresidentPIA: A judge who stands up for the white guy? Whew! They're supposed to be color blind.

Bernie O'Hare said...

4eyes, Race does exist in this world - the human race. He said he would hope everybody in a room full of white people would give the same break to everybody, but he's the one sitting on a bench telling a white kid he got a break because he's white. That's the fact, Jack! And by the by, it is incredibly stupid for a judge, from the bench, to say anything that could undermine our confidence in the judicial system. But there he goes.

Frankly, he had no business bringing up the subject at all. In his absurd explanation, he said he felt the need to comment to the public. So how the frick' does he do that in a juvenile proceediong that is closed to the public? Explain that one, 4eyes. In his explanation, he was covering his butt after putting his foot in his mouth. He couldn't bother to say three little words - I am sorry.

You tell me I must have a "personal ax" with the judge. If I do, then so must the editorial board of The Express Times. And The Morning Call and Channel 69 must have personal axes too for covering these reports of bias.

I do generally think that Northampton County judges have become very Godlike. That scares me. I do think in particular that Moran's behavior has been erratic. And his latest comments have me concerned about his health and judicial temperament.

But I am a surly son of a bitch. So you do have a point. Now excuse me while I go burn some ants under a magnufying glaSS.

4eyes said...

I have to admit Bernie, you do keep me entertained. Have fun with those ants.

LSTresidentPIA said...

Bernie I am glad that Mr. Angle stands up for white people, not the judge.

LSTresidentPIA said...

Also, Bernie, besides your humble self, who in Northampton County Goverment/politics doesn't have a GOD-like persona?

Bernie O'Hare said...

To LSTresidentPIA: I think Ron would tell you he stands up for all the people. And there are a few in NC government who are not full of themselves. Stoffa comes to mind immediately. So does his solicitor, Karl Longenbach. So does the Sheriff, who walks daily to the farthest end of the farthest parking lot even though he could insist on reserved parking, and with some justification. I could probably go on but I think you get the point.

I've never been accused of being humble, but it's hard to be humble when I'm so handsome. That picture in my profile is some other guy.

Take care. Thanks for your comments.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To 4eyes:

Oh I do think that someone does have a personal vendetta with Moran. Or that he was so outraged by what Moran said that he dropped a dime on him with the press.

Those ants are pretty tasty by the way. Taste like chicken.

Anonymous said...

Moran is stepping down soon anyways, along with Freidberg. There will be 2 vacancies and 2 new judges.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe their terms expire in 2009. Baratta, who is being groomed to take over as the next PJ even though he is junior to McFadden, must seek retention for 2007. Now is not a good time for a Northampton County judge to ask to be retained.

loribernardo said...

Funny...I always thought the portrayal of eccentric judges on popular television shows was just "hollywood". Scary.
Where are all the courageous individuals in the justice system??Is there anybody left with the courage to do the right thing??

Bernie O'Hare said...

Lori, I see today that the "letter to the editor" campaign has started. Today alone there were three letters to the editor of the Express Times, all penned by white lawyers who appear before Moran regularly. If Moran were being defended by a black member of the bar who doesn't have to depend on good opinions from him, it might have some credibility. Wait a 'tic - I believe Northampton County has only one black attorney, and she's in the DA's office.

R. Moshki said...

No, Moran was saying to the kid: "You should feel guilty because you are white."

r.moshki said...

Anyone who believes Moran's remarks were anti-black is lacking in reading comprehension.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To R Moshki, I think people can be excused for not undertstanding what the hell was said because Moran's comments, both in his transcript and later explanations, were "inarticulate." He definitely implied race plays a factor in local sentences. He raised the race card from the bench. His remarks imply that people of color have reason to consider whether a sentence is determined by their skin color. And despite his protests that he's color blind, his staff has been as lilly white as him since he's been a judge. His remarks undermine confidence in our judicial system, no mattter how he attempts to explain them away. Moreover, his remarks are just the latest in a long series of incidents that cast serious doubt on Moran's health.

Thanks for the comments.