To the editor: In sentencing a 19-year-old to prison for 10 years instead of the mandatory minimum of 25 for sodomizing a 3-year-old, Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly has shown the courage that a free people need in a judge. ("O.C. judge who gave child molester reduced sentence is asked to resign," April 9)
When legislators, seeking easy public approval, pass criminal justice laws that require judges to impose sentences without giving full consideration to the facts of each individual case, those laws can be in conflict with our Constitution. That is what happened in this case.
Crimes are complex because people are complex. Labels such as "child molester" are deceivingly simple, never revealing the human factual details about any specific experience. All of us respond with anger and revulsion when we hear those two words, but it is our responsibility as community members to do the difficult job of trying to understand each specific event.
Whether someone agrees with Kelly's decision or thinks he was wrong, he deserves support from all of us for having the courage to follow the Constitution and submit himself to criticism while a higher court reviews his decision on appeal.
Aron Laub, Tarzana
The writer is a criminal defense attorney.
To the editor: I wish Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas well in his appeal of the illegally short sentence of 10 years recently handed down by Judge Kelly to a man convicted of sodomizing a 3-year-old.
I expect the appellate court will have a few pithy comments on the subject before remanding the case to Kelly, with the instruction that he resentence the defendant to the term prescribed by law (25 years to life) rather than the calculations of his misguided and fanciful approach to dealing with pedophiles.
M.L. Goodman, Long Beach