In beginning his questioning of state Supreme Court Justice Barry Albin, state Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton) borrowed two analogies.
“Are you an umpire, or are you a surgeon?” Baroni asked.
The umpire analogy came from a Roberts quote meant to emphasize the judiciary’s limited role of making sure everybody plays by the rules. But Albin rejected it.
“I’m not certain that the term umpire, when applied to a judge who serves in an appellate capacity, is an apt analogy. In fact, Chief Justice Roberts was widely criticized for using that term. That may more or less apply in a trial court setting, but for judges who are applying the constitution, construing the statutes, the term umpire I don’t thin is really an apt analogy,” he said.
As for the surgery analogy, Albin brought up a case in which a U.S. Supreme Court decision made New Jersey’s presumptive criminal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional. Had they merely taken a role of ruling it unconstitutional but not enacting any changes to put it in line with the federal court’s decision, he said, criminal courts could be flooded with thousands of convicts in need of new sentences by jury, or they would be forced to reduce sentences. The court’s most reasonable option was to remove the state’s presumptive sentences, set a clear range and remand cases for re-sentencing.
“Something had to be done. If we did nothing, the sentences of thousands of defendants would either have to be reduced or there would be jury trials,” he said.