- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Q You described your opponent, a prosecutor, at a forum last spring as someone “who’s been trying to lock kids up,” while you’ve been “trying to keep them free.” How can voters interpret this as anything other than your opposition to putting dangerous juvenile offenders in detention?
Densford: We were talking about juveniles generally. Juveniles generally need rehabilitation, ... more than the public needs protection. We were not talking about dangerous juveniles. He has spent his career not seeking rehabilitation for any juveniles, except for in the drug court program where he gets paid personally to participate. My opponent believes he can tell who needs incarceration and who doesn’t. I base it on the evidence, the testimony and the proof. He’s ... doing a snow job, that he’ll lock them up and I won’t, and that’s false. People better get ready to spend another $26 million, [because] he’s more responsible for more of that extended time for local sentences [in the county jail] than all the others [at the state’s attorney’s office] combined.
Q How do the endorsements and contributions you have received from trial lawyers representing criminal defendants do anything other than underscore the perception that your judicial perspective will be influenced by your own years of representing criminal defendants as a private attorney and public defender?
Densford: We have 42 lawyers who put their name out there, ... [including] six former prosecutors for the state’s attorney’s office who support me. Some [of the lawyers] will never be in court on a criminal trial, [but] they want a fair judge on the bench. They do not want one that has the state’s attorney on one arm and the FOP [Fraternal Order of Police] on the other. How would you like to appear before a judge who was beholden to the state’s attorney’s office? I’m not beholden to the defense bar, or anyone else.
Q You correctly predicted that your duties as the new judge have been mostly civil and child-support matters, aside from criminal bond hearings and a few criminal case dispositions. How can this be interpreted as anything other than an attempt to protect you from the public scrutiny of your ability to fairly handle and effectively punish serious criminal offenders?
Densford: I’ve had five jury trials, three criminal and two civil. [In the defendants’] three criminal trials, ... one went to prison for eight years, and the other two went to jail. I will lock people up when they need to go to prison or jail, and I won’t when they don’t. They [The other judges] have given me as heavy a docket. It’s not a protection issue. I’m not ducking anything.
Q How would you describe the conduct of your opponent and his coworkers from the state’s attorney’s office, and your own conduct toward them, when they have appeared before you in the courtroom since your appointment?
Densford: I have tried very hard to have my conduct be judicious and fair. I wish their conduct was as laudable. Some of the things they have mailed out have been dishonest and dishonorable. They have embraced that as a badge of honor. In almost every case [in court], they have been professional.
A non-supportive father [who had signed a payment agreement] ... was not in court for his preliminary inquiry. [A prosecutor] wanted him arrested and held without bond. I told her she had lost her mind. I don’t talk like that anymore. I shouldn’t have said it and I won’t say it again. They sent me to a week of baby judges’ school, and they told me not to talk like that. I do not want animosity. If they [the prosecutors] follow the law, we’ll get along fine. That doesn’t mean they haven’t plucked my last nerve, occasionally.