News channel Action 9 continued the media onslaught on the independence and fairness of the judges yesterday by openly questioning the judgment of Judge Kimberly Best-Staton. Characteristic of attacks on judges, the story focuses on simple results, rather than fair application of the law.
Apparently, police officers and state troopers had come to the Action 9 Investigative team to complain that a local judge was being partial to defendants accused of DWI. The Action 9 Investigative reporter Mark Becker then aired a story based on these ill-defined complaints, some inflammatory statistics, and two pieces of anecdotal evidence. DWI prosecution is like all criminal prosecution complicated. When a person’s liberty and rights are at stake, Americans should and do take due process of law seriously. This supposed investigative journalism failed to do that by ignoring the complex, interrelated issues at hand.
True “drunk driving” is a problem in Mecklenburg County, but that is no reason to sidestep the law and individual rights.
The story showed a fundamental lack of respect for the law and individual liberty with opinion questioning Judge Best-Staton’s “judgment,” instead of whether she was applying the law fairly to each case. The story never attempts to give the public an explanation of why the judge’s judgment was being questioned, and the story failed to give an example of where the judge did not apply the law.
The evidence presented that was supposed to be so fatal to the “judgment” of Judge Best-Staton was that so far this year she found only 33% of those accused of DWI brought in front of her guilty. The story ignores the innumerable reasons why defendants are found not guilty and the individual cases brought to her.
The public might have rightly wondered whether Judge Best-Staton was fairly applying the law, but Action 9 certainly didn’t tell them.
What we really have here is a mind set where principles of “innocent until proven guilty,” “adherence to the law,” and “liberty” are being disregarded in favor of crass embrace of judicial activism when it would allow more individuals to be found guilty, especially of pet crimes like DWI.
For what it’s worth, let’s remember that it is not a crime to merely be charged with DWI, nor is it a crime to merely have a wisp of alcohol in your system when stopped. When a judge finds an individual not guilty of DWI, she may just be doing justice.
The DWI Lawyers of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower
If you have been charged with a DWI or any other crime, contact the attorneys at Reeves, Aiken & Hightower. Review our credentials, make sure that we are right for you, and call us at 877-374-5999, or contact us here, for a private consultation.