We do know Judge Dugan and we know his reputation among defense attorneys and prosecutors alike. He is uniformly considered to be a jurist of the highest integrity. While there are claims of anti-Hispanic bias, his son is Hispanic. He has devoted his life to helping serve our military and he has served the bench with equal distinction. Since 2007, he has headed the Veterans Court Program. Indeed, as chairman of the Philadelphia chapter of PACDL and the past president of PACDL, we have never heard one negative comment about Judge Dugan's integrity from the defense bar or the prosecution, despite the fact that he is known to generally be a prosecution-friendly jurist.
What is disheartening now is the misinformation being widely disseminated concerning his wife, who is a member of the Philadelphia Police Department. It has been unfairly suggested that Judge Dugan intentionally kept from the prosecution the fact that his wife was a police officer, and that she somehow influenced his decision in the case. It has been speculated that had the prosecution known about this fact, they would have requested the court to recuse itself to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Fueling this specious argument, the District Attorney's Office, through its press secretary on behalf of the district attorney, specifically disavowed any knowledge that the judge's wife serves as a Philadelphia officer. That is simply not true.
What the press has not mentioned is that the District Attorney's Office has known for years that his wife was a police officer. He made no secret about it. It was on his campaign literature, it was revealed when he was initially appointed in 2007 and it was revealed again when he was vetted by the Bar Association when he ran for office in 2009. Numerous high level D.A.'s, including District Attorney Seth Williams, knew it. Indeed, several D.A.s, including Mr. Williams, served with Judge Dugan in the military, and they too specifically knew about his wife's occupation.
Given the high-profile nature of this case, it is difficult to believe that the District Attorney's Office did not have discussions at the highest levels on how to proceed with this case. They could have made a decision to demand a jury trial, as was their right, but elected instead to proceed before Judge Dugan. They made that decision knowing full well who he was married to and determined that he could be fair. And although they have every right to disagree with the decision, to suggest now that Judge Dugan misled them, or that he had a duty to disclose that which they already knew, is silly. Indeed, the prosecutor in this case, a highly respected veteran prosecutor, made the decision that Judge Dugan would be a fair jurist in this case.
It is proper and appropriate to voice disagreements. It is not proper to accuse an honorable man of intentionally circumventing the legal process without first marshaling all of the facts. As any individual should be judged by their history and characteristics when viewed in their totality, so too should a jurist be evaluated on the full body of his or her work while on the bench. Under that analysis, it becomes very difficult to criticize the integrity, the competency or the character of Judge Dugan.
Ronald L. Greenblatt
chairman, Philadelphia chapter
Michael Engle, past president
of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Toomey's the 'bomb'
I usually agree with John Baer, but he missed a few items in his column regarding Republican Sen. Pat Toomey's alleged practicality on "his" bill to permit flexibility on the sequester ("Is Toomey Mr. Demeanor?" March 4).
First, it was actually Republican Sen. Inhofe's bill that Sen. Toomey was signing onto. Second, Sen. Toomey and the Republicans were only practical in thinking of their own political backside by trying to shift the heat to President Obama to decide what programs should be cut by the sequester. Toomey and the Senate had two years to avert the sequester, but he signed onto Inhofe's bill only two days prior to the sequester taking effect. Finally, this is just another example of bad and extreme policymaking by Toomey. He even recently wrote legislation that would send money to the Chinese government before funding Social Security, Medicare or veteran programs if we were to break the debt ceiling.
Little wonder why Paul Krugman says that Toomey "is a guy walking into a crowded room and saying, 'I have a bomb strapped to my chest. If you don't give me what I want, I'm going to blow up everybody including myself.' "
What else is Sen. Pat Toomey quietly plotting?
Connie Myers email@example.com