Opinion by Richard Bleil
Usually I’m not a big fan of calling out people by name, but sometimes they deserve it.
Judge V. Suart Couch is an immigration judge in Charlotte, North Carolina. On March 30, 2016, he had a case wherein the defendant, a two year old boy, was making noise. To get the child to quiet down, he not only yelled at the child (who was accompanied by his mother), but went on to threaten the child with a dog, saying, “I have a very big dog in my office, and if you don’t be quiet, he will come out and bite you!”
There are SO MANY THINGS wrong with this event, and wrong with this judge that it’s hard to know where to begin. This case is a couple of years old now, but I only heard about it today. Let’s count off the errors that I see, not to say that there aren’t more.
(1) Threatening people with dogs is torture. Americans used to do it in Vietnam, to torture hardened adult Vietcong prisoners. They would put fierce dogs on chains inches short of the prisoner so it could snap and snarl and threaten the prisoner until he became frightened to the breaking point. On fully grown, hardened, communist soldiers. You don’t threaten a two-year old with a vicious dog. In fact, I’m pretty sure the convention has since been banned.
(2) A two year old should NEVER have to stand up in a court of law as if the child is an adult. This child was with his mother, admittedly, but the way the article read, the CHILD was on trial for immigration status. This is just so wrong on so many levels. It would be one thing if the mother was on trial, with the understanding that if she was deported, her child would go with her, but even that is not the case these days. Recent articles have made it clear that if parents are deported, children are often handed over for adoption. This is kidnapping, regardless of how the law reads. It’s no less than human trafficking.
(3) Couch yelled at the child. This is a two-parter. Children make noise because they have high energy, and they have high energy because their bodies are trying to get exercise to grow. If a stranger YELLS at the child, now you have a frightened child, and frightened children don’t quiet down. They scream and cry and clamor for their parents and safety. It’s an evolutionary trait, so parents know something is wrong and they need to check the children. Why couldn’t he have spoken with the mother, calmly, to ask her to get the child under control? I guess you couldn’t remove the child from the courtroom, SINCE THE TWO YEAR OLD WAS THE ONE ON TRIAL.
(4) At one point, Couch turned off his mic to scream at this child. It was witnessed by a reporter which is how the story got out. This is WRONG. No judge should be able to turn off the courtroom recording equipment just because they want to be an asshole. They should NEVER be able to turn off the courtroom recording devices. Judges should be held to the same standard of courtroom decorum as everybody else, more so, in fact, because of their position of authority. This is completely wrong.
(5) When he turned the recording devices back on, he claimed that he “distrusted” the documents showing that the child was two, and simply pronounced the child to be five years old. This is wrong for two reasons. First, you can’t just say you distrust the official documents without some form of proof, even if you are a judge. Before it gets to the court, those documents are poured over by both the prosecutor and defense attorneys. Second, you can’t just pronounced a child as older because, somehow, in your twisted brain, it’s better to threaten a five year old with physical injury from a vicious dog attack than a five year old. Seriously.
(6) This particular judge has a HISTORY of such violent outbursts and inappropriate behavior in court. A witness in one such trial said she feared he would have a heart attack from his level of rage. How can he be allowed to remain on the bench? This is unacceptable. Get him out of the court system, and into therapy.
(7) He has a history of particularly low approval of asylum seekers based on the national average. His record is less than 8% approval, with the national average (AVERAGE, mind you) of about 45%. This kind of disparity should NOT exist in the court system. Such a wide disparity is a sign that somebody is judging based on personal biases, not according to the law. In fact, it may also be an indication that he is flat out violating the law.
This is AMERICA! Do people remember this? Do people remember that we are supposed to be the “good guys”, and routinely package ourselves as such? Do good guys act like this? Do good guys threaten two year olds (or even five-year olds) with dog attacks? Do good guys make two year olds (or even five-year olds) stand up and defend themselves in court? Sounds kinda like how we used to portray communists. I guess if this behavior was good enough for the commies back then, it’s good enough for us today.
Some days, I’m just ashamed by this country.