Here Comes the Judge

Letters from the week of January 30, 2003

Judge Not

Jurist prudence: As a lawyer and longtime student of his opinions, I read your article on Stanley Feldman with interest ("Judging Stanley," Amy Silverman, January 23). Any honest person who is familiar with his opinions should at least admit that Judge Feldman was very bright, but was a classic, liberal "judicial activist." From his first moment on the bench, he had an agenda; he masterfully wove the court with result-oriented decisions to achieve that agenda.

Your article described his opinions as "eloquent." Actually, many were sheer sophistry, wherein he engaged in tortured and strained legal analysis – not to mention "legal fictions" – to reach the result he wanted. Of course, that is the exact opposite of what good legal analysis should involve, which requires sound and logical reliance on proper statutory and case law interpretation in order to reach the correct legal conclusion. Feldman too often allowed his politics and populist views to interfere with the proper task at hand. These propensities explain his frequent very long opinions and the frustrations voiced against his methodology by the dissenting opinions.

Judge Fred Martone, discussed in the article, is one of the few justices who would openly challenge Feldman's ways. Hence, he was described as "difficult." Truth be known, those "in the know" always understood that Feldman's liberal agenda was the primary force to be reckoned with. The Arizona Supreme Court had the national reputation as being one of the most liberal activist courts in the country. Thank goodness that may have come to an end. We may now enjoy straightforward decision-making. God forbid that Governor Napolitano appoint another like Feldman.

Name withheld by request

Juvenile justice: Either retiring Justice Stanley Feldman has forgotten the pressing issues of the 14-year-old girl's Kansas abortion in 1999 that he helped okay or Amy Silverman has misreported the justice. Neither possibility is attractive.

Feldman is quoted simply to the effect that government can't deny a person the right to go elsewhere to do what's legal there.

This troubled 14-year-old was a chronic runaway juvenile detainee. A Superior Court judge has said she even could be handcuffed going to, and during, the Kansas abortion if necessary.

A Superior Court judge also removed her from official government custody and turned her over to a Planned Parenthood volunteer escort in order to avoid the issue of spending Arizona funds to secure an abortion that violates Arizona law.

The gestational age had been estimated at a bare minimum of 23 weeks. Arizona law requires that for an advanced abortion, a second physician be present to provide care for a viable infant thus delivered. Instead, Child Protective Services turned to a Kansas abortionist skilled at dismemberment.

The Tribunenewspapers reported Chief Justice Thomas Zlaket's concern that the parties neglected to discuss how the teen's status as a juvenile delinquent and ward of the state affected her situation. Zlaket also was reported as chiding the majority justices "for failing to cite any authority for their conclusion the girl has the same constitutional rights as a free adult."

The girl's family said they were denied contact with her; they thought she was talked into the abortion. The Tribune said sources familiar with the case said the teen was told she must abort her (consensual-sex) pregnancy or give up the infant for adoption.

If Justice Feldman's own minor granddaughter told him that she wanted to go commit legal suicide in the Netherlands, I trust Granddad would show better judgment.

Dexter Duggan
Phoenix

'Bite Me,' Indeed

But how do you really feel?: I ain't just whistlin' Dixie or trying to slap her ass from stick-up-the-ass L.A. when I say that Bite Me's story is one of the worst examples of journalism I've ever seen ("Madcap Moses," January 23)! It must have been that tight tank top that got her the job because "No Shit!" she writes on the level of a junior high school kid who flunked English as a Second Language. The endless dialogue at the end only added insult to injury. If you're trying to save a buck, try high school journalism students. It would be a huge improvement!

Margaret Baldwin
Scottsdale

Once bitten: Please send this person back to L.A. Her column is offensive and sophomoric, to say the least.

Vicki Ratliff
Via e-mail

The Conversation

The play's the thing: Robrt L. Pela, as usual, has gone to great lengths to expend his vicious energies on his latest attack of a Phoenix Theatre production ("Aisle of the Damned," January 16). Sadly, Mr. Pela has now branched out and has tried to include members of the audience in his underwhelming attempts at Dorothy Parker-esque reviews.

As the person sitting behind Mr. Pela on the opening night of I Do! I Do!, I take umbrage at his extremely inaccurate characterization of my statements preceding the performance.

First, I am not a board member of the Phoenix Theatre. One of the four individuals in my party, however, is on the board, but he merely tolerated my excited comments rather than contributing to them.

While Mr. Pela eavesdropped on us, I did, indeed, make statements regarding the ballot for next year's plays. My statements, however, were not negative. I was thrilled with the choices on this year's ballot, and voiced my surprise at the possibility that I might see a local production of such plays as Dreamgirls, A Chorus Line and others on the list. The only distress that I expressed was that whoever compiled the list was forcing voters to choose between excellent plays. I don't like choosing between cake or ice cream. I want them both.

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