Orange County supervisors officially called for the resignation of a Superior Court judge who sentenced a convicted child molester to 10 years in prison rather than the minimum 25 years that state law requires.
In handing down the sentence this month, Judge Marc Kelly said the molester seemed remorseful for his actions and didn't fit the profile of a sexual predator -- a line of reasoning that elicited swift outcry from the public and politicians alike. The defendant was convicted of molesting a 3-year-old girl.
The victim's mother, who is related to the defendant, had asked that he receive probation so that he could get help.
Supervisor Andrew Do said that by approving the resolution, which carries no official weight, the governing body was giving voice to the people they represent.
The agreed-upon wording resolves, among other points, to "rebuke and denunciate" Kelly's decision, to "demand the immediate resignation" of Kelly, and to state that the board "has no confidence in Judge Kelly or his willingness to faithfully and fairly administer the laws of the State of California in the public's interest."
Still, defense attorney Paul Meyer, speaking on behalf of the Orange County Criminal Defense Bar Assn., argued that it was inappropriate to issue such statements about a judge whose case is now on appeal.
Before their vote, Meyer asked the supervisors to imagine a scenario in which the appeals court agreed with Kelly. Would they then call for the resignation of those in the court of appeal? And then those in the state Supreme Court?
"Agreed, Judge Kelly has a tremendous, strong history," Meyer said. "But this case you disagree with. You may be right. You may be wrong. But it's not going to be up to this board to make a decision."
The supervisors shrugged off his warnings.
Supervisor Shawn Nelson explained that it was "very rare" for the supervisors to pass a resolution of this nature and promised their action did not represent the start of a "slippery slope" toward challenging any disagreeable ruling by a Superior Court judge.
"This case warrants exactly what it's getting: a rare bit of attention," he said.
Holding up a copy of Kelly's ruling as conversation wrapped up, board Chairman Todd Spitzer pointed to it angrily.
"If these words don't make you cringe or shudder, or raise the hair on the back of your neck, you are not a human being," he said.