Sep 08, 2016 Judges benefit all by giving litigants compassion and sufficient time for their cases
Whether or not their colleagues or administrative judges pressure them to do so, many judges in very busy courthouses place a disproportionately high premium on moving dockets along even if at the expense of delivering true justice, and at least with some judges even at odds with their oath of office.
How great it is to find judges who treat each litigant with compassion and give them sufficient time.
A good example is Alaska trial judge Michael Jeffery (retired 2014), a Stanford undergrad and Yale law grad, which by themselves opened the career doors to many possibilities beyond being a trial judge in the sparsely populated Barrow, Alaska judicial district.
Michael Jeffery graduated from Yale law school around the late 1960’s, spent a few years at an Indian ashram, including spending time with Ram Dass’s teacher Neem Karoli Baba, opened a legal aid office in Alaska, and became a judge there in the 1980’s.
Reports are that when a judge, Michael Jeffery was compassionate, was acutely aware of and understanding of the rampant fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (“FASD”) that many criminal defendants in his jurisdiction experienced, gave each litigant plenty of time to assure they understood the proceedings, and got a reputation for being a compassionate sentencer.
Here are links about Michael Jeffery:
- A newspaper’s overview of Judge Jeffery.
- Video talking about FASD.
- From American Veda.
- Another news article.
- Another article.
- Judge Jeffery’s approach to those with FASD seems to be his general approach with giving litigants his full time and attention.
Jeffery described his jurisdiction and work as follows: “The superior court at Barrow, Alaska may be the farthest-north general jurisdiction court in the world, serving an area half the size of California. Most people in the multi-ethnic Barrow community of about 4,300 are Inupiaq Eskimo persons.”
Michael Jeffery’s very approach of compassion and patience comes right out of the book of Neem Karoli Baba and his student Ram Dass, with being all about compassion, love for all, and being in the present. In his new book Sometimes Brilliant (excerpted here), Larry Brilliant says that Neem Karoli Baba named Michael Jeffery “Ravi Das”, gave other of his followers names ending with Das, but instead called Brilliant Doctor America, sending Brilliant to serve the cause of eradicating smallpox. And Michael Jeffery served in his corner of the world in Alaska.
Thanks deeply to Michael Jeffery for a great example to encourage all judges to follow in treating all litigants with compassion, understanding, and patience.