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A bench view of crime but topic for the eleven hundred and seventy fifth consecutive broadcast of the Georgetown University radio forum. Another in a series of educational and informative programs from Washington D.C. The Georgetown forum was founded in 1946. This is Wallace Manning speaking to you by transcription from the Raymond Rice studio on the campus of Georgetown University historic Jesuit seat of learning in the nation's capital. Today's discussion will be a bench view of crime participating are they Honorable Edward M. Curran chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and the honorable Joseph M. F. Ryan Jr. judge of the District of Columbia Court of general sessions. Recently in one of television's finer hours we could see color pictures from a spacecraft which gave us a view of our Earth that we had never seen before. The astronauts were
literally outside the Earth looking at it in its totality. When we as average people see stories of crime in the newspapers or on television we see only fragments and we are virtually unable to view the total picture of crime as it really is. Fortunately our judges in the courtroom are in a position to see the larger picture of crime in the way that we as individuals never could. How does a judge view crime. For example what are his thoughts as he sees the steady stream of alleged criminals file before him. Is there a pattern. Is there any common denominator among types of offenders. Are there available means not presently employed. Does the compassionate and human judge secretly wish for remedies and the body of the law or in its administration or in the role of society. Today the Georgetown forum presents two experienced judges from the District of Columbia.
We ask them to give us a picture of crime as it looks to them from the bench and we're going to begin by asking Judge Curran for his bail. Mr. Fanning as a trial judge I am greatly concerned with the crime problem. Three million serious offenses committed every year and they continue with five serious offenses being recorded every minute. There's a crime of violence every two and a half minutes. A robbery every five minutes a burglary every 28 seconds and fifty two automobiles are stolen every hour. Now that no man should be condemned without being given his day in court and without being proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the basic principles of criminal justice we try to achieve speedy justice. But the safeguards that are placed around the accused today bring irritating delays in securing conviction. I don't want to
win to all the causes of crime. There are many who probably is not the only one employed unemployment's not the only one. Narcotics is one insanities one slum areas or one lacks. Parents are one and in my opinion the lenient courts are another. And the trend of the leniency in the courts keep growing. I favor constitutional rights but in these days there are often criminal cases in which it appears that the main concern of some courts is for the rights of the perpetrator of the crime and not for the rights of the victim or society. And in many cases the parents are at fault because there's a breakdown in the family unit and I am sure that Judge Ryan is very familiar with this aspect of it. Mr. Moderator you have identified the topic a bench view of crime and as I notice from your brochure this is a part of a series
of four programs on urban problems month now from Chief Judge Curran of our United States District Court. We certainly have the advantage of a most incisive bench view of crime. Judge current has not only sat on the predecessor to the court of general sessions where I now sit as a trial judge but he has been the United States attorney for the District of Columbia and he had served many years on the United States District Court for which he is now the chief judge. I can think of no one in the Washington area who is more qualified by experience and background to give an informed and assessment of our criminal problems as seen through the eyes of the jurist. Now we talk of gaps these days I do think there is a gap in law enforcement and I think there is a gap in the court. There's a gap between the thinking of Appellate Court certain appellate judges and the trial courts the appellate courts seem to be withdrawing from reality and the practicalities of the situations are never considered. Trial judge is
intimately concerned in connected with the people who are victims of crime. See day by day how society is disadvantaged. Now speaking for the domestic relations branch it cannot be said that our branch the branch I sit on deals with crime as such however it may be easily proved that we have a bench view of the many causative factors of our present criminal syndrome. I would expand the topic for the last four programs from urban problems month to urban as well as suburb and problems for the simple reason that crime is not the monopoly of cities alone it is true that where population is compressed as in cities statistics are compacted and it would appear that there is more of a problem. The general problem however is crime but crime itself is but a symptom it is a symptom of the sickness of our society that sickness high state is the breakdown of the family. The family is if found of wrong order and discipline in any
civilized country. In a recent dinner celebration of the Chinese New Year the chairman of the event took the occasion to remind members of the bench and bar present that very seldom did he wager had they observed any people of Chinese ancestry in the criminal courts. This is a fact he went on to state that the reason was a strong family organization of that people and their capability as well as their recognition of the desirability of settling such problems within the confines of their own family grouping. Moreover we're familiar with the statistics of the European countries and Spain for instance there is little or no juvenile delinquency. The absence of the symptom of crime here leads to a search for the common denominator in such societies that common denominator I suggest a strong family organisation recognise parental discipline a family instilled respect for authority and antithesis of permissiveness. The breakdown of the
family the breakdown of family morality is more than just a fruitful source of material for the social science scientist. It contains many answers for the economists for the politician and for the theologian and for those interested in law enforcement. I think possibly we would like to get back to Judge Curran and his direct observations of the criminal enforcement process in in its actual action. Judge current. I feel Mr. Fanning that the time has come when we must recognize that society has certain rights as well as the accused. People have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Women have the right to walk down the street without fear of being raped or molested. The family has a right to feel secure in their home and putting it bluntly the law abiding citizens of this country have the right to be left alone. And when some of the judges of this country realize that the rights of society should be
balanced against the rights of the individual then law enforcement in my opinion will be more effective. And I say this because it is clear to me that some appellate court decisions have unduly tipped the scales in favor of the criminal and against society's rights to be protected. There's no substitute for swift certain and impartial justice with the less attention paid to the technicalities which appear aimed at the protection of the criminal and not society. Ma reality LAR and author and other great principles of our heritage. Fighting for their very existence. They are under attack from certain influences which if not stopped will wreck every trace of decency in a society. And it is argued by some that profane verbal abuse directed at the police is a constitutional right. And I feel that the best interests in this country lie in a
law abiding and orderly society. The citizens of America cannot live with the lawlessness while Garraty obscenity and blasphemy and the only way to fight these organize crusaders of filth. In my reality and crime is to get tough and the most effective deterrent to crime is the apprehension and punishment of criminals. Us Mr. Fanning in your initio statement does the compassionate and human judge secretly wish for Romany's in a body of law or in its administration now I think certainly Judge Kern and his colleagues on the district court as well as the judges on the court of general session here are compassionate men who do secretly wish for remedies for the problems that are faced now a judge can do his sincere duty. He has no guarantee that all his work will not be
all for naught because of some esoteric reason discovered by an appellate court later on. But even if the convictions are finally up held the the punishment now is so watered down and so remote to the crime that we have lost the idea of the effective administration of criminal justice criminal justice to be affective must be swift and sure. Because of the problems created by a pilot this station is today. It is neither swift nor sure in fact if the criminal was a betting individual he certainly knows that the odds are in his favor. And then when punishment does come it has been so watered down because of maudlin sentimentality that Jamiel is now almost a secondary country club. There are many people who find themselves better treated in jail than they do in the surroundings that they treat from themselves. We must make punishment realistic we must make jail a place where a criminal
does not want to go. Once a criminal does go there he starts counting the days until he gets out. When he does get out he must come out with a firm conviction that he does not want to be returned to that atmosphere. This is the way we'll finally enforce criminal justice. Well now we keep hearing if I may just ask you a few questions at this point. We keep hearing about reform of the judicial system and so forth. Implicit in what you say is something that this isn't really going to do a whole lot of good just organizational changes. Readjustments of the judicial system here you're saying that there's something wrong with the basics thinking in the judicial system is I correct. I think there is basic basic error in the judicial system. And I think it's because people with unproven liberal theories have gotten all the published and people who have the facts have sat in the background. For instance whether you agree with it or not. The argument over the abolition of the death penalty has not been fairly
presented to the American people. I'll give you one statistic before 1936 before the Lindbergh baby kidnapping kidnapping and extortion was rising exponentially after the enactment of the Lindbergh act. It practically dropped to nothing. Now with the Supreme Court ruling down an emasculating Ellenberg law do you notice the rise in kidnapping and extortion cases. There is a deterrent in the in the death penalty just as there is a dead tyrant in a severe type of incarceration rather than a molly coddling that we now have because of the do gooders who do not believe in punishment as a deterrent. Well is that what you consider their motivate their motivation. It goes no deeper than that you think the motivation of the do gooder Yes. Well today in American society as long as you come out with some sort of a liberal philosophy you get your picture in Life magazine or you get a write up in Time magazine. The judge who goes
along deciding cases according to law and what is termed conservative he never gets any published the newspapers or the news media are not interested in that. They're only interested in the court or the decision that finds some new twist as an excuse for letting a criminal go or some new idea or rehabilitating a criminal and they never follow up on these cases of how many of these are rehabilitated or how many come out again and prey on society. Well Judge Kern was obviously in gross disagreement with many of the appellate court decisions and I wonder if he would tell us what how it is that the appellate courts get that way that I can answer Mr. Fanning. All I can say is that if the factor of punishment is ignored then there can be no deterrent. The courts of this country are not courts of mercy. They courts of justice and a trial should
truly represent him in light and search for truth so that deception surprise technicalities and delays will be done away with. And I don't think that appellate court should reverse trial courts on mere tech technicalities. I believe that that we ought not release people accused of serious felonies on technicalities or specifically what we're going to give us an example. Does any come to mind of a case that you might have handled recently. Well I didn't handle the case but some time ago they picked up a man who was. Accused of a felony at five o'clock in the morning and the accused asked if he could bring his wife to the precinct the officers just said yes. They brought him to the precinct. They took him in the room they questioned him for five minutes. He
denied any knowledge of the crime. And so they were about to let him go when he said may I speak to my wife. They brought the wife in the room they closed the door and within three minutes the knock came on the door. He says all right I'm ready to tell the truth and he made a full confession. He was convicted by a court of appeals reversed because he had not been taken immediately to a committing magistrate. Now what the officers had said in the room played no part in this confession at all. He made a free and voluntary confession of the crime. As a result of talking to his wife and so he's a free man today some 40 odd years ago an experienced jurist in New York issued this strong warning. He said it's not the criminal's actual or potential that need a neuropathic hospital it's the people who slobber all over them in an effort to find excuses for their
crime. And what these people believe I think is I believe it is a false compassion. Far be the criminal. I think that we have to balance the rights of the criminal with the rights of society. Because as Judge Miller a distinguished member of the United States Court of Appeals once said Nice people have rights too. And I feel that what we need today in attempting to minimize crime because we can never eliminate it. What we need are jurors with a conscience Invision judges with courage and fortitude and penitentiaries which are neither country clubs not health results. I think George Kern is saying this specific cases or applications are in the area of the Bill of Rights. Now there was some utility to a Fifth
Amendment when people used to pile stones on an individual until they confessed. That's a far cry now from the cases which we hear decided under a Fifth Amendment when on any pretext it is held that a person has incriminated themselves. That person has a right to confess. The only safeguard it ought to surround the person is whether as a matter of fact he had been called the worst basically called worst. This is a question of fact which ought to be determined by a jury. There's another item here that Judge Curran hasn't mentioned but I'm sure he will agree with appellate courts instead of either farming or reversing cases have find all kinds of excuses too. It could break cases up to send them back to trial courts for additional hearings on one phase or additional hearings on another. They seem to have an idea that every criminal case can be perfectly tried you can't have that any more than you can have a perfect crime. Our system of justice is finite and fallible.
We have to try a case on the evidence that is presented and if there is substantial evidence that a jury of 12 people believe beyond a reasonable doubt it seems to me to be very presumptuous of an appellate court to reverse that sort of a factual finding. I won't be one of the things that that concerns those of us outside of the Bar Association and the judicial system is that. These people who comprise the appellate courts they come from your ranks and our system is where it is because you who have all been lawyers are where you are so it comes as some surprise to me to hear you be as critical as you are being of the system I like to distinguish what you mean from your ranks if you mean from the ranks of trial judges I'm afraid you're in error. If you mean from the ranks of people who have got a law school degree and passed a bar
somewhere then you're probably correct. Now we are not condemning and certainly I'm not condemning all appellate judges we have many excellent ones we have some excellent ones on our circuit court of appeals here and you'll find that they have had some contact with reality that you know have been practicing trial lawyers. Well they have been judges at the trial level before. We have no problem with them there's no gap between their thinking and the thinking of the trial courts. It's the ones who have had no other previous experience other than what they gained from books and who write the books that they themselves read. These are the ones I say are causing the gap in judicial law enforcement. I don't know whether Judge current would subscribe to most views but I'd be interested in what he would say on that. Well I think that any trial judge is very capable of serving in an appellate court because of the experience he has had. Now we've got to face it certain lawyers and certain judges think differently. There are those who are conservative
and there are those who are liberal. And I just think that the ones that are on the liberal side have gone too far. I am just as interested in protecting the rights of the individual. I wouldn't want to go home tonight and realize that an innocent man had been convicted in my court. That doesn't make any sense to me. But I think there are limits in which we can go. And that's why I am so concerned about some opinions not all opinions but some opinions which upset me. Judge Curran in the area of judicial reform would you recommend that it be made a prerequisite for an appellate court appointment that a judge who have served as a trial judge. No I would not. Because there are some very fine lawyers that I well qualified to be appellate judges. It's just I think basically their philosophy and I think when they decide a
case. They're sincere and they absolutely believe that what they are deciding is correct. It's just that there is a clash between you as to the philosophy of the law itself. Well all right let me rephrase the question then and put it this way what do you think can be done. Well legislation is definitely the answer and this is where there is a paradox. In fact you know I often think it's probably a misnomer to call the Supreme Court the Supreme Court I think it's a rather presumptious the English do not do that because the really the supreme authority under our Constitution are the people themselves. Yet you have the anomaly when the people through the Congress through their duly elected legislative body seek to amend the Constitution to correct some of these esoteric interpretations of the Constitution. Immediately there are a lot of Pfizer's and other people who are testifying up there you can't do this because it's unconstitutional this
is ridiculous. There's nothing more constitutional than the right of the individual to amend the Constitution. And it is we certainly have a need here as Judge Curran said a society has to be protected. Now if we have interpretations of the Bill of Rights which would cause the people who wrote the Bill of Rights to roll over in their graves hundreds of years ago if we have interpretations now which bind us then we must in the legal framework things have it corrected through our legislature we have a perfect right to do it. We have the facts to show that there needs to be a change in that we do not argue that's their interpretation we're faced with that we want to change it legally we want to change it constitutionally. But what I do not like to see is a hue and cry that any person who sincerely tried to do this in the way of remedy in our situation is immediately branded as somebody trying to do something that's unconstitutional. And this to me is ridiculous and I think that the people have not been given the correct
impression or idea that they have a perfect right and a duty an obligation to themselves and to society to actually do their best to overturn these decisions of the appellate courts which do not serve to protect society in general and the individual in particular to occur and to do anything to do that. Well if you get to specifics I'm concerned greatly with the Malory decision because for years a confession was admissable of it was freely and voluntarily made. And that's the other technicality. Unless he's brought immediately to a committing magistrate the confession is invalid and they make a second confession after they've been brought before the committing magistrate where they have been one of their rights and the some judges feel that the second confession is fruit of the poisonous tree. So I guess you can never make a valid one when to make an invalid one. And that doesn't make
sense to me. George Ryan in. Well Lou of some changes and basic thinking what do you think the future holds. Well before we get to the future I think that what we have to do now not only by way of legislation to correct some of these imbalances caused by court decision I think can start and continue an inode which I started that we have to do something about the breakdown of the family. I think the family has to be supported now recently in parade the Sunday newspaper magazine which is included in the Washington Post this was March 9th of this year. Under the heading of intelligence report there was an article which flatly stated that there's a positive link between crime and illegitimacy in this nation that the more illegitimate children in any community the more likely that community would generate a higher crime weight crime rate especially in offenses such as murder robbery forcible
rape aggravated assault and burglary. Now the article further stated that it is not only the illegitimate child who feels unwanted but the parents who took part in his illicit conception also feel that they are associated all castoffs. The article continues that it's no secret that sexually irresponsible partners are frequently indifferent to pressures and requirements of society and therefore harbor a few inhibitions against crime. It states that there is not only a positive correlation between illegitimacy and crime in America but an equally positive correlation between illegitimacy and poverty. Pointing out that in some communities almost 25 percent of the children on welfare are illegitimate. Now just to say briefly My point is this we have to do something to support the family as an institution where we have to do something to try to instead of the Head Start program which in many cases to me is a head start toward socialism because you train a child
from the beginning and not as parents but the state's responsible for him. I think we have to do something to restore the family and the parents in the family to the dignity that they ought to have and instill in them their responsibility. I think probably all this talk about one man one vote would be better economically socially in every day you would have a slogan one man one family that would have a better nation. Study climate legislation Mr. Fanning there is legislation now pending to nullify the Malory rule and in it all who finishes it freely and voluntarily made. And if you're highly in favor of it I am. Thank you very much gentlemen for giving us a bench view of crime. Thanks to the Honorable Edward M. Curran chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and to the Honorable Joseph M. F. Ryan Jr. judge of the District of
Columbia Court of general sessions. You have attended the weekly discussion program at Georgetown University radio forum broadcast of which was transcribed in the Raymond Rice studio on the campus of historic Georgetown University in Washington D.C.. Next week our topic will be disturbed children home or institution. Our panel at that time will consist of Robert E. cus Dello a member of the American Council of Social Workers and executive director of the Christ Child Institute for emotionally disturbed children. Dr. William de Clotworthy chief of the department of medicine and psychiatry Christ child Institute for emotionally disturbed children and Dr. Edwin S. Kessler clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Please address them to the station to which you are listening. This
Georgetown forum
A bench view of crime
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Georgetown University
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features a discussion with Edward M. Curran, Chief Judge, United States District Courts for District of Columbia; and Joseph M.F. Ryan, Jr., Judge of District of Columbia Court of General Sessions.
Other Description
Moderated by Wallace Fanning, this series presents a panel of guests discussing a variety of topics. The radio series launched in 1946. It also later aired on WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C. These programs aired 1968-69.
Broadcast Date
Law Enforcement and Crime
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Guest: Curran, Edward M.
Guest: Ryan, Joseph M.F.
Moderator: Fanning, Wallace
Producing Organization: Georgetown University
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-51-662 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:22
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APA: Georgetown forum; A bench view of crime. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from