1. stevesh
    Offline

    stevesh Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    Mid-Michigan USA

    Blind Justice

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by stevesh, Oct 31, 2014.

    Here in Michigan, we have an attorney who has been blind since birth running for an open seat on the state Supreme Court. He has spent his career in his family's law firm (his father is the preeminent tort lawyer in Michigan) doing pro bono legal work, mostly in the area of disability law.

    Under ordinary circumstances, based on his record, I would vote for him, but I'm concerned that we (the taxpayers) will not only have to pay for his salary, but for an assistant to describe visual exhibits to him which are part of cases that come before the Court, an expense we wouldn't incur with a sighted judge. Am I being unreasonable/anti-disabled?
     
  2. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,530
    Likes Received:
    2,825
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY
    Yes I think your perception is flawed because if this individual wasn't able to work with the help of another, there are only two other outcomes. They would either have to be supported by family or friends, which can't always take place, or they would have to do nothing and be supported through government social programs. I give kudos to this person for being able to overcome their obstacles, and whether it's alone or with the help of another, they deserve the right to continue creating a valuable life for their self.
     
  3. stevesh
    Offline

    stevesh Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    Mid-Michigan USA
    I understand your point, but my assumption is that this guy is making a very nice living working for his family's law firm, and will continue to do so if he isn't elected. My only concern is the added expense of an assistant who wouldn't be required with another candidate. Others have suggested that state Supreme Court cases don't involve visual exhibits as often as lower courts, which may be a valid point.
     
  4. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,530
    Likes Received:
    2,825
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY
    I just don't see any difference in this, or having to put handicap ramps on all the buildings. It's about giving those with a disability more even ground to be able to lead a successful life. If you had a job and then suddenly you lost your eye sight, yet you wanted to continue doing what you did before, would you want your employer to make concessions to make that happen, or tell you they can hire someone that can see, cheaper and with less strings attached?
     
    jannert and Shadowfax like this.
  5. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,604
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires reasonable accommodation and I believe that is a good model to use.

    As for an assistant, all judges in state and federal supreme courts have clerks who assist the judges. I doubt the staff a disabled person needs would be much different.
     
  6. Ben414
    Offline

    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2013
    Messages:
    974
    Likes Received:
    785
    For the sake of argument, let's say extra accommodation would $75,000. Just randomly looking up Michigan Supreme Court's most recent opinion, it involved a multimillion dollar corporate settlement. If you consider the money and social/political well-being (evaluated in financial terms) involved in all of the cases each year, $75,000 is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the dollar value of the influence that the court has. Choosing a justice whom you think is best is well worth it politically and economically.
     
  7. Okon
    Offline

    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2013
    Messages:
    694
    Likes Received:
    389
    We make a lot of subconscious, visually-aided pre-judgements. Adverts cater to that, as a light example: "Buy our jeans because good-looking people wear them." etc... Who knows what insight could come from someone who isn't as affected by that kind of thing?
     
  8. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,604
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    I thought about this too. Think of the different judgement one might make seeing or not seeing a defendant.
     
  9. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,339
    Likes Received:
    3,086
    Wow and people think I'm offensive :s
     
  10. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,786
    Likes Received:
    7,299
    Location:
    Scotland
    Well, if you're paying for the salary of an assistant, that's one less person off the 'unemployment' role. They will be paying taxes on their earnings and boosting the economy, like any other public sector worker. Of course that's a cold-blooded way to look at it.

    Me? I'd vote for the person based on how good they would be at doing the job, no matter what their 'assistance' costs might need to be. Society benefits from people who are good at their jobs. To waste a person's talent because of sight/hearing/any other disability issues seems blinkered. That's really the bottom line for me.

    It's not as if this assistant is going to cost the taxpayer billions–like the nuclear weapons that 'taxes' also support.
     
  11. Aled James Taylor
    Offline

    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2013
    Messages:
    784
    Likes Received:
    462
    Location:
    UK
    There are a great many people in this world who can see less well then blind people. People can easily jump to conclusions based on the appearance of others. This is not justice. If a dedicated assistant is required, I would imagine the task of describing visual attributes and reading out text would be a low skilled job attracting little more than minimum wage. It may be more likely that court proceedings take a little longer, because an additional activity of describing things to the judge, has to be carried out. I doubt that either of these would fall outside the realm of reasonable accommodation.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    I would say that if he's the best person for the job, then the value of that makes the cost of one more public employee a drop in the bucket. To try to see it another way: If judges "bid" as part of their campaign, offering to take lower and lower salaries, would you vote for the lowest bidder?

    And, anyway, people with disabilities are entitled to an equal shot at a job. It would also save money to eliminate requirements for ramps, elevators, etc., for disabled courthouse employees, but we don't do that.
     
  13. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,222
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't NYC have a blind mayor at one point? There are so many technology for the blind now that I think they can figure this out. ;) :D They're not stupid.

    Though it is funny: we love inspirational movies/speeches where the disabled talks about how he/she overcame what others thought to be impossible simply because the person was disabled and yet here's a thread wondering if there should be a blind guy in the state supreme court. Curious.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2014
  14. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    A judge should be selected based on his/her ability, experience, fairness, and ethics. Disabilities shouldn't even enter into the equation.
     
    Link the Writer likes this.
  15. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,222
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Exactly. If he is competent enough to do a good job, who cares if he can't see.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,604
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Welcome to Ayn Rand's Objectivism.
     
  17. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,339
    Likes Received:
    3,086
    I don't understand some people's point of views. They don't want to spend money on education. They don't want to spend money on research. They don't want to spend money on helping the disabled. What's the point of having a society at all?
     
  18. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,222
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    That's just one of the 'fun' perks of society. There'll be people who will think it's pointless to spend money on education, research, or finding ways to make the disabled's life a bit easier.
     
  19. stevesh
    Offline

    stevesh Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    Mid-Michigan USA
    I'm not sure how you got here from my original question.

    There have been some great points made here which I hadn't thought of, though I completely reject the idea that the cost of the assistant I spoke of doesn't matter because it's only a tiny fraction of state spending. That's the argument for continuing all kinds of wasteful and unnecessary government spending. It never seems to occur to advocates thereof that as those expenditures add up, they turn in to real money.

    The most salient point I hadn't considered was the idea that, as a justice, the guy in question would already have a staff of clerks and aides, one of whom should be able to perform the function I mentioned.

    I have to admit that I'm not much impressed by the argument that we owe it somehow to disabled people to make it possible for them to perform any job. No blind person will ever (not in my lifetime, anyway) play point guard in the NBA. Closer to my original question, should a blind person be able to be a Michigan State Police trooper? After all, we could hire someone to drive her car, operate her radar gun and describe an accident scene to her.
     
  20. Aled James Taylor
    Offline

    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2013
    Messages:
    784
    Likes Received:
    462
    Location:
    UK
    There are undoubtedly many occupations a blind person could not do, or would require unreasonable accommodation. If the blind person wanted to be a court clerk but would require the assistance of another clerk, that might be unreasonable, but the more senior the position the more reasonable it would be a employ someone of a junior position as an assistant.

    Is helping a disabled person really wasteful and unnecessary government spending?

    Just think about the defence budget. Isn’t this far more wasteful and unnecessary? ‘Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.’ Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Helping disabled people is what government money is for.
     
    123456789 likes this.
  21. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,604
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Since this is a straw man, I can understand why you didn't think a blind judge could be reasonably accommodated.

    If you look past the immediate situation and consider all the consequences, providing reasonable accommodation to disabled people so they can be productive members of society saves other costs such as supporting persons who cannot work. Now the alternative to not supporting disabled people who cannot work is you create a society like India and parts of Africa with crippled beggars lining every street corner. And that's rather unsightly.

    I prefer to pay a tiny bit more in taxes to keep the streets beautiful :)
     
    Lewdog and Okon like this.
  22. jauntbooks
    Offline

    jauntbooks New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2014
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    4
    Let me put it this way, if a blind man could sink a shot from anywhere on the court he would not only be hired but most likely make more than any other team member...If a blind woman could be driven to a crime scene and divine powers would revel the criminal you know darn well she would have the job. Sometimes to get the best we need to pay a little extra. I looked at this man and it seems he has proven himself worthy of my vote. A judge with a great heart and mind doesn't come along every day why would you pass him up just because it may cost a very small amount more?
     
  23. jauntbooks
    Offline

    jauntbooks New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2014
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    4
    Another thought: Here in the United States we have compassion for each other. The small amount each of us must pay to help disabled people have a better life is small indeed compared to the physical and emotional pain they endure all the time. Count yourself lucky if you are on the giving end and not the receiving end of helping the disabled.
     
  24. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    But I don't think that was the point being made. The point was that the value of a judge varies tremendously based on the quality of the person, and the difference in value is likely to be much larger than the salary of the extra support staff.

    If you could have a brilliant and wise legal scholar, but had to pay one additional employee to have them, versus someone who barely scraped by in law school but didn't require that additional employee, surely you'd want the more qualified candidate, even if they were technically cheaper in terms of fixed costs?

    Now, the fact that a job that can be reasonably accommodated should be accommodated is a separate point, and I support that one, too. Sure, the judge could go back to his law firm, but if we repeal the laws that require accommodations, a tremendous number of people suddenly become unemployable and would have to be supported in idleness or underemployment. The accommodations are the cheaper option, even if you don't consider fairness.
     
  25. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,339
    Likes Received:
    3,086
    Look, I don't think you have to be brilliant to be a judge, or almost regarding law, for that matter, except maybe criminal defense.

    This, to me, isn't really an issue of competence. It's about not wanting to provide for handicap people. This guy was born blind. That means he never gets to see an ocean, a sunset, or a girl's ass. If there was ever a point in having laws and taxes, it should be for providing for people like this. Whether he's a judge or an accountant, he should be given an aid if that's what he needs.
     

Share This Page