No compassion in court

October 12, 2009
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Should a judge be criticized by her peers for being compassionate to a couple in foreclosure? Yes, according to the 3rd District Court of Appeals, who disapproved of a Miami-Dade Circuit judge’s decision to give a couple an extra month to try to sell their home before a foreclosure sale.

The Circuit judge delayed the sale because she hated to see anyone lose their home. The appellate court called her decision an abuse of discretion in the most basic sense of the term because the bank had the right to the sale.

The couple’s home was valued at $2.64 million and their bankruptcy petition was dismissed as frivolous. Would the appellate court have come down as hard on the judge if she delayed the sale for a single mother of four who was out of work and whose house was only worth $100,000?

Maybe the bigger question is does compassion or benevolence have any place in court? Is it better for judges to have a heart, so to speak, rather than robotically rule on the law? Of course, judges are supposed to uphold the law, but are there ever times when a case like this is justified?
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