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Good judges, bad judges

Some judges consider the law a calling. They work hard day-in, day-out; year-in, year-out to administer justice as best they can.

Then, there are judges like Kathy Hardcastle.

Last year as the chief judge of District Court, she let Judge Lee Gates sit on only 21 days worth of trials. Of course, Judge Gates drew full pay, while Hardcastle did nothing about an obvious abuse.

Then, as 2008 wound down and Judge Harcastle was due to cycle off the chief judge position, I am told, she rejiggered the court calendars down at District Court so that she only had to work about 30% of the number of cases of the other judges. She wants to coast into retirement, just as she allowed Judge Gates to do.

Thankfully, the new chief judge saw the inequity and added to her work load early this month. She threw a fit. But she’s still getting a deal. The average judge at District Court is scheduled to handle 1,500 to 2,000 cases in 2009. Meanwhile, lazy Judge Hardcastle, unless something changes, will be lucky to handle 1,000 cases.

My sources in the judicial system tell me that there is much angst over the Hardcastle situation. As well there should be, especially if there is any move to add judges to District Court. But the more pressing point is this: If Hardcastle doesn’t want to work full time, she should resign so the taxpayers can get a judge in her courtroom who will.

UPDATE — I am told from someone who should know that I am wrong in saying that Judge Lee Gates only had 21 trial days in all of 2008. The correct number is 23. Also, adding insult to injury to taxpayers, Judge Gates has now been named a "senior" judge. Nice "work" if you can get it.

UPDATE UPDATE — For more on all this, be sure to read Jane Ann Morrison’s excellent column on the topic. It adds more information to the workload of judges. You will note that her column says that the District Court will provide updated information on all the judge’s work habits in 2008 … in March 2009. It will be interesting to see, of course. But my sources say that all this information is already compiled and available. Why would it take until March to release it publicly. I’m not saying anything … I’m just saying, "Why indeed?"

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