Judge Aquilina’s Moment

One argument against cameras in the courtroom is that judges, being human and fraught with the frailties of the species, might play to them. Who doesn’t want to look good for their close-up, Mr. DeMille? This seemed to terminally afflict Judge Rosemarie Aquilina as media focused on her.

There is a peculiar expectation that anyone would demand, or need, a deep discussion of how despicable Larry Nassar was and is. Is there a doubt? Is there anyone arguing that what this guy did isn’t absolutely horrible and outrageous?

Even so, in this age of emotion, this devolution into never-ending catharsis, both for the victims of crime as well as the distant on-lookers who want to share in the outrage as if it was their own, there is often thunderous applause for the person who expresses a feeling shared by many who need their outrage fix. Judge Aquilina saw her opening and went for it.

In a companion post today, Chris Seaton runs through Aquilina’s “intemperate” remarks. Rather than jump onto that pile, the death warrant, the wish of rape, the pandering to fury and hatred emitting from the mouth of a judge who is too well aware that her image, her words, will be broadcast far and wide for all to see and hear, the reactions to her audition reveal a fundamental lie that pervades the forces of love and tolerance.

They love who they choose to love, not because of any principled reason but because of identity. Nassar? They hate him. They are only too happy to see him suffer. He is a sex molester, a rapist of young women, and there is nothing that can be said of him, done to him, that is too harsh.

Aquilina’s words were just fine with them. Indeed, they didn’t even see a problem, and can’t understand why anybody else would. One would have to be a male rape apologist to find Aquilina’s words improper. And even if someone with sufficient feminist bona fides to avoid the apologist characterization objected, they were beaten into submission from their principled stance by shrill scolding voices chastising them for speaking out in this instance.

It’s true that the forces of wokeness are not required to call out every unprincipled evil that arises, even if they would hypocritically challenge others for their failure to speak out for the victims. But the flip side is that they aren’t similarly entitled to spew nonsensical rationalizations, or using the smaller word, lies, to cover their tracks.

But Petri, disingenuous as she is in trying to recharacterize the problem, at least brings nothing to the table to persuade the groundlings that she possesses any special knowledge beyond snarkiness. In contrast, a former “business” lawyer who now works for Thomson Reuters as a Senior Legal Editor, David von Ebers, did the unforgivable.

The irony of this “business” lawyer, turned editor, denigrating “twitter lawyers” who have “never heard a judge sentence a defendant for a violent crime” wasn’t just idiotic, but a violation of the fundamental rule that you don’t make people stupider. He used his “lawyer” status to pretend he had a clue about sentencing. For this, he was ripped to shreds by lawyers and even judges who, unlike him, were not poseurs.

And his attempt to salvage his dignity having been caught spewing utter nonsense was to tone police the lawyers who knew what he was faking.

Lawyers didn’t disagree with Ebers. Lawyers, including myself, called bullshit on Ebers for spreading false legal information to non-lawyers to deceive them, to make them stupider.

There are a lot of very angry criminal defense lawyers out there who are willing to die on this hill. There are plenty of examples of bad sentences and judges who make questionable comments from the bench. But they chose to get angry today. Go figure.

It’s not that von Ebers is particularly disgraceful, flagrantly misrepresenting his scope of knowledge to delude people, or more likely confirm their bias, into believing their desired outcome isn’t absolutely disgraceful and devoid of principle. It’s that the entirety of their cause is a lie, a sham, that the same words hurled at a defendant being sentenced for a crime that’s not on their list of hated offenses would evoke the exact opposite reaction. It’s not about the propriety of what happened, but about what crimes and criminals offend their sensibilities.

When this comes from the usual SJW and feminist suspects, like Petri, it’s merely wrong. When this comes from judges and lawyers, it undermines the integrity of legal system. As broken as the system may be, this makes it worse, more cynical, more hateful.

It seems almost impossible that in the sentencing of a defendant like Larry Nassar to the slow death penalty, anything could happen that would shift the focus away from his horrible crimes to the flagrant impropriety of the judge enjoying her moment in the limelight, or to social justice apologists lying to the woke as if their legal ignorance and wholesale lack of integrity wasn’t revealed by their thirst for blood from a defendant they despised.

And yet, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina managed to do so, and enablers like von Ebers sold their soul and law licenses to make non-lawyers stupider. On the bright side, criminal defense lawyers and people of integrity took to social media to call bullshit. The lies cannot be ignored.

22 thoughts on “Judge Aquilina’s Moment

  1. PseudonymousKid

    Dear Papa,

    This can’t be. Everyone online is accredited and everything is vetted for accuracy by the Ministry of Sense. You need to file your appeal in the correct office to ensure that it is heard rapidly. I’m afraid people won’t be able to see past their noses if you don’t. Wrong and undermining comments must be stopped on the Internet once and for all!

    Thankfully, Twitter has people like you, Pa, and the others to keep us safe from wrongthink like this. It’s important to see how the sausage is made, if you really want people thinking for themselves instead of listening to “experts” without a second thought.


    1. SHG Post author

      Expertise, to the extent such a thing is real, is a loaded gun. Never put your finger on the trigger unless you intend to kill.

  2. Black Bellamy

    When I google “judge goes crazy during sentencing grounds for appeal” she is the first result. Like if Nassar appealed and said see, first result right there, the judges would have no choice but to agree, right?

    You think he’ll get another sentencing?

    1. SHG Post author

      Frankly, no. And it likely wouldn’t make any difference if he did. But impropriety is wrong because it’s wrong. It needs no further justification.

      1. Richard Kopf


        Broomberg and his big band are all white. That proves once again that you’re the lawyer who casually dabbles in racist slurs. But please don’t block me as that would hurt my feelings.

        All the best.


  3. Jim Tyre

    One argument against cameras in the courtroom is that judges, being human and fraught with the frailties of the species, might play to them.

    The failing of one judge in one case shouldn’t be used as an argument against cameras in the courtroom generally. After all, the most famous SCOTUS Justice, Judge Judy, is on camera every day, and always comports herself with the utmost decorum and professionalism.

  4. B. McLeod

    This wasn’t a slight departure from decorum. She was off the rails in that sentencing, and it was immediately apparent. As I checked my emails and several Internet comments sites yesterday evening, I noted that several of my civil trial bar and transactional colleagues shared that same perception (despite some ramblings about “Twitter lawyers” by an obvious ignoramus who lacks any basic sense of due process). It wasn’t OK, and I am glad to see it also has not escaped notice at SJ this morning.

    1. SHG Post author

      The piece that Jay missed above was that it’s fair game to condemn the conduct of conviction (“this was a particularly horrific murder…”), but it is not fair game to wish outrageous unlawful sentences on a deft. The Rule of Parsimony still applies.

  5. John Barleycorn

    Will there be a three paragraph levitation of certainty out of you, or are you licking the bowl of “what is”?

    Just saying. Lot of words up there. I followed along and all….

  6. Lucas Beauchamp

    I was going to write a partial defense of Judge Aquilina, about the uproar that would have followed had she, instead of throwing his letter to the ground, merely said she did not find his contrition sincere and quietly sentenced him to 40 to 175 years. I was going to write that perhaps the judiciary’s credibility actually required that she fill the television audience’s need for some emotional condemnation. Then I realized I would just look stupid.

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