I have been in courts where I thought the judge was behaving automatically, not really listening to the evidence, and making decisions more on the basis of preconceived notions than of the facts at hand. I was in court yesterday listening to a judge blather on about old stories, bemoaning the unfairness of The System, and seemingly having a good time that such a crowd was obligated to hang on his every word. I don't think he came to a bad decision in the case, but there was something unseemly in his manner.
Yet most judges whose courts I have been in have been thoughtful and attentive. They seemed to try hard to get it right, not only in appearance and on technicalities, but on overall matters of justice. That is a difficult, perhaps impossible, balance to achieve. Judge McHugh added comments to his denial of William Flynn's petition for suspension of sentence. The Flynn case remains interesting around here. He was the shooter in Pamela Smart's arranging to have her husband killed - a high school boy besotted by love, or lust, for a young assistant teacher at his school. The case attracted national attention, and for a decade afterward there were groups of odd women who continued to protest on Pame's behalf, believing she was being unfairly treated and more a victim than a criminal. I never understood that. Pame was cute but displayed no other redeeming qualities. She acted entitled both during her trial and in prison afterwards, expecting special treatment because she was a celebrity. She was eventually moved to another prison outside of NH for her own safety from other prisoners.
Back to Mr. Flynn. The judge's comments here are quite thoughtful, addressing both the general matters of justice and the specifics of this case. I don't know if he reached the correct decision, but I appreciate the care and thought he put into it. He covers a lot of ground in a short space.