Judge’s restitution order a bad idea
Some people believe that judges are arrogant and elitist. Superior Court Chief Judge Tina Nadeau has given those people extra ammunition. She recently decreed that her courts will no longer enforce the collection of fines and restitution orders if they involve amounts under $200, notwithstanding laws to the contrary.Two hundred dollars may not be much to some, but to a small-business owner it may be the profit for a week. If someone bounces a check, that business owner is entitled to have his case pursued to the full extent of the law. Does the judge not know that $200 to some people means a lot more than $1,000 does to others?Nadeau has said that this was prompted partly because corrections officers were doing their jobs asking for arrest warrants for convicted criminals who had been ordered to pay restitution but were refusing to do so. Your honor, if a convicted criminal is refusing to follow one condition of his probation or parole, do you think it is possible they are refusing to follow other conditions? Does not that refusal to comply cry out for an arrest warrant?Who will be responsible when one of these people who has refused to comply with something as small as paying $200 commits a more serious crime?I am not a lawyer, but is this even constitutional? If you owe $201 and refuse to pay, you will be arrested – but owe $200 and you have nothing to worry about? Is that equal justice under the law?I know that the rule of law needs to be respected in order to work. Nadeau today decides that criminal acts with penalties under $200 need not be bothered with. Does she not see that for some this will lead to a feeling that they have a license to commit such offenses? The longest journey begins with the smallest step. A prominent member of the judiciary has taken that smallest of steps to disregard enforcing some laws. Where will that journey end?Nadeau is a smart and more than able jurist. I am hoping she will reconsider this very bad idea.Rick Newman lives in Nottingham.