When I heard Robert Blaeser had “retired” from a judicial seat in the Fourth Judicial District, Minnesota (StarTribune story here), I heaved a sigh of relief. I cannot possibly explain in this one post all that that man has done to me and my clients, to their cases, to my business. (Look for future posts.)
As soon as I heard, I began to inform his victims while a passenger in a car heading toward the Minnesota Supreme Court oral argument in my disciplinary case (look for What Protects the Public, part 3).
At first, Judge Blaeser’s victims were awe struck.
But soon, they demanded more.
Imagine if Penn State had simply announced that Coach Sandusky had “retired” and that that was the end of it. His victims would have raised a hue and cry, demanding justice. They would have demanded to know that they matter, so that the healing could begin. It doesn’t need to be a criminal prosecution, but there does need to be accountability.
Those of us who were abused by Blaeser while he was in that courthouse, we demand to be noticed, we demand that the court system tell us that WE matter.
We do not agree to continue to use public dollars to perpetuate the myth that judges do no wrong. It’s not reality. It’s not healthy.
As atrocious as bad judicial conduct is (more on how it feels to be a victim of judicial abuse in later posts), the more horrible facet is that its victims are disaffirmed by the justice system. Screwing up one’s courage to report a judge, then finding the system ignores you, punishes you for speaking your truth, calls you names, pushes you away – that causes additional harm.
Realizing that there is no cavalry, that no one will ride to your rescue, that causes anguish.
It’s like the era when police used to show up and find a woman bleeding because her husband punched her face, and then they’d start laughing at her and sit down to have a beer with the husband.
And just as the feminists demanded that police arrest those perpetrating domestic abuse, we demand more.
We feel that the Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards sat down to have beers with Blaeser, and laughed at us.
Turning a blind eye to potential judicial misconduct does not “protect the public.”
We are entitled to feel betrayed.
We are entitled to demand more.
Whether it occurred with Blaeser or not, the history in the courts of taking judges out behind the scenes needs to give way to a more modern approach. The public needs to know that there is hope, that things are changing, that judges are behing held accountable.
We are opposed to a system that permits judges who have done wrong to slink away into “retirement.”
Exposure of the bad conduct and the consequences is also necessary to deter such future conduct by other judges.
Enough of protecting the ‘mystique of honor’ in the courts instead of the victims of judicial misconduct and abuse.
Pretending that judges do no wrong dishonors us.
And we matter.
However it happened that Blaeser “retired,” although a good start, it is not enough.
P.S. Months ago, I informed StarTribune writer Abby Simons of allegations of misconduct by Blaeser, and emailed her numerous documents supporting them. She did not cover that. She wrote the piece on Blaeser linked above. What’s up StarTribune? Why didn’t your story say why Blaeser was “retiring?” It’s hard to believe that with your resources, you could not uncover the reason.