Another Light Sentence for Rape — Nel’s New Day

On July 22, 2014, the Montana Supreme Court censured Yellowstone County Judge G. Todd Baugh for using rape myths that reduced the sentence of a rapist to 31 days in jail. They also suspended him from the bench and remanded the case back to another judge in Yellowstone County to resentence Stacey Rambold.

The story shown below about Californian Nolan Bruder sounds eerily familiar.  California Judge William H. Follett, just like G. Todd Baugh in Montana used rape myths to explain the light sentence he handed down to this convicted rapist. In the Rambold case, Pennsylvania NOW and Montana took several action steps to stop this type of judicial misbehavior.

Along with Ultra-Violet, we initially circulated a petition to the Montana Judicial Standards Commission and followed that up with an official complaint attaching over 240,000 signatures from outraged people around the world.  Subsequently, when the case was appealed to the Montana Supreme Court, Montana NOW, Pennsylvania NOW, Legal Voice, Sexual Violence Law Center, Women’ Law Project, and Legal Momentum filed an amicus brief before the Montana Supreme Court documenting the rape myths that Baugh used in determining and handing down the sentence he gave to former teacher and convicted rapist Stacey Rambold. These efforts resulted in the aforementioned censorship and suspension of the judge and the resentencing of the sexual perpetrator.

Now others in California are starting the same process with a petition drive to remove Judge Follett.  I signed their petition, and made the following comment to the petition organizers:

To the petitioner organizer, I applaud your efforts to remove Judge Follet from the bench. However because this is a complaint against a judge, the California General Assembly can not take or review this specific complaint. This is because there is a constitutional separation of powers issue [requiring that the legislature not become directly involved in a specific judicial case].

It has to go through the California Commission on Judicial Performance. Details on how to file a complaint can be found at https://cjp.ca.gov/file_a_complaint/. When MT NOW and PA NOW filed their complaint against G. Todd Baugh for similar judicial misconduct in 2013, we included the 240,000 petition signatures that were directed to the Montana Judicial Standards Commission. FYI, there had been other petitions circulated to both the legislature and the governor of Montana re Baugh’s sentencing, but they were not accepted by the Judicial Standards Commission because they weren’t directed to the right place.

If you want more detail, you can contact me. Meanwhile here’s a link to what we successfully did in Montana: https://civilrightsadvocacy.net/2014/12/31/2013-2014-justice4cherise/

I wish the petitioners good luck and hope that their efforts result in a successful retraining of judges in California, much like what happened in Montana.

And if you live in another state where you believe a judge has similarly misbehaved or failed to follow judicial ethics guidelines, Google your state’s name along with something like “Judicial Conduct Board” to find out where you need to file your complaint and what you need to include.  Good luck!  We need to make sure that justice for all rape victims can be achieved, just as it was in Cherise’s case in Montana.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his employer, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), are concerned about stricter laws for drug users (aka blacks), but they have said nothing about rape. In another case of white male entitlement, a judge sentenced Nolan Bruder, 20, to three years with all except 240 days suspended in favor of probation, […]

via Another Light Sentence for Rape — Nel’s New Day

Censure and Suspension of Judge Baugh

Stop Violence Against Women NOW diamond

Stop Violence Against Women NOW

The Montana Supreme Court has just handed down their decision on the ethics complaints filed against Judge G. Todd Baugh in his mishandling of the rape case against Stacey Rambold. This is the case where Judge Baugh sentenced ex-teacher Stacey Rambold to thirty days in jail for raping one of his 14-year-old students.

In explaining this slap-on-the-wrist sentence, Baugh used several rape myths that showed gender and racial bias against Cherise Morales—the 14 year old, Hispanic girl whom Rambold raped. During the sentencing hearing, Baugh stated that the girl was “as much in control of the situation” as her rapist and that she was “older than her chronological age.” There were a total of eight verified complaints submitted to the Montana Judicial Standards Commission as a result of Judge Baugh’s actions; one of these complaints was filed by Montana NOW and Pennsylvania NOW (see our complaint here and blog summarizing our complaint here).

On April 30, the Montana Supreme Court vacated Rambold’s minimal sentence, largely based on the amicus brief we filed with the court. They remanded the Rambold case back to Yellowstone County District Court. Yesterday they denied Rambold’s request to reconsider. The new sentence will be imposed by the District Court by the end of this month.

Meanwhile, the Court has now followed up on their intent to censure Judge Baugh. Their intent to censure was originally announced in the April 30 decision in the Rambold case. In that opinion, the Court said of Baugh’s behavior:

In the present case, Judge Baugh’s statements reflected an improper basis for his decision and cast serious doubt on the appearance of justice. The idea that C.M. could have “control” of the situation is directly at odds with the law, which holds that a youth is incapable of consent and, therefore, lacks any control over the situation whatsoever. That statement also disregards the serious power disparity that exists between an adult teacher and his minor pupil. In addition, there is no basis in the law for the court’s distinction between the victim’s “chronological age” and the court’s perception of her maturity. Judge Baugh’s comments have given rise to several complaints before the Judicial Standards Commission, which has recommended disciplinary action by this Court. Those complaints will be addressed in a separate proceeding.

In their 4-1 decision today censuring Baugh, the Court indicated that Judge Baugh violated the “Promoting Confidence in the Judiciary” canon.

Here’s a copy of the full decision. Judicial Standards Commission v Judge G Todd Baugh decision 6-4-2014

And here’s an excerpt from that decision:

Violation of Rule 1.2: Promoting public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary and avoiding impropriety or the appearance of impropriety

Baugh’s comments in open court in this case disregarded longstanding Montana law that a person under the age of 16 is legally incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse. His assertion that the victim was “older than her chronological age” is inconsistent with Montana law categorizing child victims of sexual offenses based on their chronological age     alone, rather than on subjective perceptions of physical maturity and situational control. In addition, Judge Baugh’s later attempt to retract his sentence and rationale was inconsistent with Montana law. Finally, Judge Baugh made additional inappropriate public statements attempting to justify his actions. Through his unlawful sentence, inappropriate rationale, and subsequent public comments, Judge Baugh has eroded public confidence in the judiciary and created an appearance of impropriety, therefore violating the Montana Code of Judicial Conduct….

There is no place in the Montana judiciary for perpetuating the stereotype that women and girls are responsible for sexual crimes committed against them [emphasis added].

Censure and Suspension

The Court has given Judge Baugh until June 19 to respond to their proposed suspension since he only agreed to public censure on violating this rule. If he does not withdraw his consent to discipline by that date, he will be required to appear before the Montana Supreme Court at 9:30 am on Monday July 1, 2014 for the delivery of public censure by the Court. Then on December 1, 2014, he will be given a 31-day suspension without pay from the bench, thus losing the last month’s pay of his salary before he retires. If he does withdraw his consent for censure, the case will be returned to the Montana Judicial Standards Commission for a formal proceeding.

I suspect that Judge Baugh will accept the censure and suspension. Rumor has it that Judge Baugh is considering stepping down from the bench on July 1 due to the general belief that he cannot fairly rule from the bench because of the public censure. If true, the only effect of the 31-day suspension will be a loss of one month’s salary based on his earlier announcement that he would retire from the bench on December 31.

And as a final food for thought… this 31-day suspension / “sentence” seems to me to be very similar to the 31-day sentence imposed by Judge Baugh on Stacey Rambold for raping a 14-year old. Did the Court have this in mind when they decided on the length of the suspension? Is this Tit for Tat for his use of rape myths? Who knows?