Opinion Piece by Donna Westfall – May 22, 2017 –
Calls of recall and resignation resound as a result of the wildly unpopular sentence Judge Follett gave Nolan Bruder (20 year old who drugged and raped his 16 year old sister). It became national news and put Crescent City on the map for another disaster having nothing to do with Tsunamis.
But it’s not just the Bruder case that makes me impatient to see Judge Follett leave the bench. I’ve watched him as Presiding Judge over the Grand Jury for most of the 10 years I’ve lived here. I couldn’t understand why the Grand Jury seemed more like a Kangaroo Court than a panel of my peers who’s duty it is to uncover governmental complaints which oftentimes included allegations of corruption.
As Presiding Judge, Follett chose the grand jurors and the foreman. One stooge after another walked goose step in line with the puppet master. Unfair interference claimed by some. Manipulation claimed by others. One former juror stated he stopped the investigation into corruption into the $43.8 million Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), the insane amount of money spent by the City of Crescent City largely because there was no way the ratepayers could repay that loan amount.
Besides the Grand Jury, how does Follett perform in the court room. Some say he fabricates his own legal premises, he’s vindictive and retaliatory, he favors his old partner’s Bob Cochran and Philip Schafer or any number of good old boys, refuses disqualifications, obstructs admissible evidence by denying due process of law, and has a record of drastically inconsistent sentencing.
Should he decide to resign, who would be appointed?
Should he decide not to run for re-election in 2018 who could toss their hat in the ring?
Here’s a partial list to consider:
Some attorney’s and law firms: Dohn Henion, George Mavris, Michael Riese, DeSolenni Law, Karen Olson, or Mike Skudstad.
Maybe someone from the District Attorney’s office would consider running: Dale Trigg, Katherine Micks, Anna-Marie Padillo, or Todd Zocchi.
Maybe someone currently employed by the County; Elizabeth Cable.
Or someone currently contracted by the City; Martha Rice.
And then there’s Chris Doehle, married name Westbrook. She was formerly appointed by Gov. Brown, then rejected by the voters when she lost to Dareen McElfresh. Some of the problems I have with Doehle is that she and her husband were among those that lobbied hard for a lessor sentence for Chris Renner who was convicted of sexually abusing a child.
Last thoughts. What is the criteria for someone to run for Judge? Certainly there’s residential requirement, someone would have to live in the area for some period of time. And, there’s probably a time requirement that a lawyer right out of law school is too inexperienced to run. But that’s a discussion for another day.