Claudia Barber: Choosing the right Jurist (Guest Column)

| March 25, 2018
Rams Head
Judge Claudia Barber

Judge Claudia Barber

The Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to seeking exoneration of those wrongfully convicted made the following critical points:  “Some wrongful convictions are caused by honest mistakes. But in far too many cases, the very people who are responsible for ensuring truth and justice — law enforcement officials and prosecutors — lose sight of these obligations and instead focus solely on securing convictions.

While many law enforcement officers and prosecutors are honest and trustworthy, criminal justice is a human endeavor and the possibility for negligence, misconduct and corruption exists.”

I wholeheartedly agree. Since 1992, Peter Eufeld and Barry Sheck, through the Innocence Project, have done a phenomenal job through DNA testing in reforming the criminal justice system. I applaud their work.

Bryan Stephenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, has equally done a stupendous job in providing legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons.

These two organizations have assisted more than 200 convicted persons become fully exonerated.  How can the criminal justice system fail so many so miserably?

While on the campaign trail, many litigants have approached me or shared with me their varying experiences in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. Many complain of injustices such as forced confessions or plea deals, negligence, and judicial misconduct ranging from ex parte conversations with opposing counsel, favoritism, or implicit biases observed from the bench.

There may not be perfect solutions to these injustices, but we must be zealous and relentless about routing out all injustices. No one should be wrongly convicted of a crime due to prosecutorial misconduct or otherwise.

One reality check that does not sink in with those trustworthy of the judicial system is that the legal system was not designed for the poor. Limited resources for criminal defense and civil attorneys are always a problem.

When voters choose who should preside and adjudicate over cases in our judicial system for the next 15 years, they should ask potential jurists these three important questions: (1) What life experiences make you the right choice for the job? (2) What in your background makes you uniquely qualified more so than others, and (3) What difference will you make as a judge on the bench.

From my perspective, a pipeline of fair-minded judges is necessary. The bench should have diversity in experience. This means there should be public defenders or criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, sole practitioners, Legal Aid attorneys, municipal law, family law lawyers, and commercial law or business law experts on the bench. My 26 years of legal experience (ten of which was serving as an administrative law judge in Washington, DC) has afforded me the opportunity to represent clients in jury trials and in civil and criminal matters in state and federal courts. I’ve represented many indigent clients and the working poor who often cannot afford counsel. I know what justice looks like and what litigants are facing when they cannot afford legal representation. It is these experiences which make me uniquely qualified to serve on the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. I’d be honored to serve.

–Claudia Barber, Esq

Note: Claudia Barber is a candidate for the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County. We encourage all readers to learn all they can about the candidates that will appear on the ballot. Here is a link to Barber’s website.

Severn Bank

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