Letters to the Editor: Compassionate Justice
To the Editor:
I joined the New Jersey State Police in 1965 and in 1966 I was transferred to the Hammonton Duty Station. One day while patrolling the White Horse Pike an elderly woman made an illegal left turn to go north on Route 206 right in front of me. I almost hit her along with two other cars. I stopped her on 206 and she seemed confused, I gave her a summons to appear in Hammonton Municipal Court.
About a month later I appeared before the municipal judge who asked to speak to me in his chambers privately. The conversation went like this:
Former Municipal Judge: Trooper, are you new to the Hammonton Station?
Me: Yes, sir, I am.
Former Municipal Judge: Trooper, are you from Hammonton?
Me: No sir, I am from Berlin.
Former Municipal Judge: Trooper, are you Italian?
Me: No sir, I am Irish.
Former Municipal Judge: Trooper, do you have any personal interest in this case?
No sir I don’t. This happened right in front of me, it almost caused a three-car accident, I really had no choice Sir, I had to do it.
Former Municipal Judge: Trooper, did the elderly lady seem to be confused?
Me: Yes, sir she did.
Former Municipal Judge: Trooper, in my court I have a system called compassionate justice. I don’t believe that every violation needs to end up in court with a fine or worse. Do you have a problem with compassionate Justice?”
Me: No sir. I have 10 brothers and sisters and we can all use some compassionate justice in our lives.
Former Municipal Judge: Trooper, if you stay in Hammonton some day you are going to need me, and I promise you that on that day I will be there for you.
That day did come later, and he was a man of his word, issuing search warrants over the phone at night that resulted in the seizure of stolen property from 55 different burglaries throughout South Jersey. This is the kind of justice we need in Hammonton, local control. I returned to Hammonton Duty Station three more times. I eventually moved here and lived here 47 years. I became friends with the judge. He was a good man and I respected and liked him.
I was alarmed when I read your article concerning the attempted takeover of the municipal court by, in my opinion, the historically incompetent, corrupt Atlantic City/County Political Machine. Take a look at the Casino Redevelopment Authority. Where did all that money go? Are all the infrastructure issues resolved in Atlantic City/County as the politicians promised us? How many of the promises these politicians made in the past have come true?
The entire article can be boiled down to the one paragraph that explains how many judges, prosecutors, public defenders, administrators and court personnel will need to be hired by the remnants of the “Boardwalk Empire Nucky Johnson Hap Farley Political Machine.” Political machines operate by controlling patronage jobs where every person knows their job depends on their allegiance to and support of the political machine that appointed them. I believe this means political hacks and breeds corruption and incompetence. Is this what we want in Hammonton? Or do we want what we currently have—a compassionate justice system?
This is just another false and empty promise from our county politicians. It is strikingly like the never ending, disgusting commercials from a Philadelphia casino: “Get some skin in the game and make it rain.” Yeah, our skin in your game and it always rains on you!
P.S. The judge contacted the confused elderly woman’s family and told them it was time to take the keys away from Grandma. Compassionate Justice!