Are Judges “Judicial Executioners”?

A provocative blog post on those who want to be judges:

The best way to think about it is to ask yourself this question: “Am I a willing judicial executioner, a person who consciously does great harm to other human beings by faithfully executing the extraordinarily harsh national criminal laws?” Those who covet a federal trial judgeship should think hard about this truth before pursuing the job.

I doubt they will. Instead, they will say to themselves, “I’m different. I am not weak. I am strong-minded.” Or, “I’m just doing what the law requires.” Or, “They did it to themselves. They deserve it.” Or, “Someone has to do it, and maybe I can improve things.” The rationalizations are endless.

But stripped of the BS that allows good people to do bad things, here is the essential truth: When sentencing people, federal trial judges literally and consciously destroy lives and most do so on a daily basis.

What makes this interesting? After all isn’t this what Robert Cover said 27 years ago (“The judges deal pain and death”)? Well, the post is interesting because it’s written by Richard Kopf, a (now-senior) federal trial judge.

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