Hitting a nerve?

My posts here and here on the South Dakota JAIL initiative (PDF file) seem to be hitting a few nerves. In addition to some random comments on the blog, I’ve had e-mails directly from the founder/author of JAIL and the head of the Oklahoma JAIL project deploring my lack of understanding.

Mr. Chief JAILer tells me I have a problem with the Declaration of Independence, I disagree with the Constitution and I believe the founders of this country were idiots. (Interestingly, even though I have never modified the built-in settings, my Yahoo mail account automatically put his e-mails directly into the spam folder.) Mr. Oklahoma JAILer tells me I am overlooking the fact that “Judges have been running wild for a long time breaking laws, ethics and procedure.”

I repeat the same invitation I made to my e-mail response to Mr. Oklahoma JAILer: I welcome receiving specific, verifiable examples of South Dakota judges who have been “running wild … breaking laws, ethics and procedure.” Let’s see what claims exist, if they have been reported to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, whether there was an investigation and, if so, what became of it. Apparently, the South Dakota faction doesn’t currently have any in hand as its web site is running a “Worst South Dakota Courtroom Horror Story” contest. The standard for judging the entries is interesting: whether the entrant or someone they know has “ever been treated unfairly in court by a South Dakota judge.” As “fairness” often seems to be in the eyes of the beholder, I question if it is the sine qua non of an out-of-control judiciary.

The fact I believe JAIL is idiotic doesn’t mean it and its premise shouldn’t be discussed and debated. And while I would wager that most entries in the South Dakota contest will consist of sour grapes complaints over a result, maybe the contest will demonstrate flaws, mistakes and abuses of our system. So far, though, I have not seen anything as to why South Dakota needs this measure other than hyperbole.

And just so you don’t think I’m just some lone left wing wacko who thinks JAIL is crazy, take a look at the insightful comments of a former leading member of the state GOP.

A [ranting] man’s report of what a [rational] man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.

Bertrand Russell, The History of Western Philosophy

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