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February 20th, 2011
11:01 PM ET

A Crooked Judge, A Son's Suicide, A Mother's Unrequited Grief

From CNN Anchor Don Lemon:

I had barely made it in the door at work on Saturday when a CNN producer grabbed my arm and walked me to my desk. He kept saying, "You've got to see this video. You've got to see it."

"What is it?" I asked.

"It's a mom. She's in anguish," he said. "She screams at a judge who sentenced her son. Then he killed himself."

"The judge killed himself?"

"No," he said. "Just watch."

So I sat at my desk. He pulled up the video and my jaw nearly hit the floor.

The former judge had just exited the courthouse where he had been found guilty of racketeering and money laundering in a so-called "kids for cash" incarceration scheme. The woman exploded with rage. "Do you remember my son? Do you remember my son?" she screamed. "He was an all-star wrestler and he's gone! He shot himself in the heart!"

Her voice gave me chills. On her face was an odd mix of sadness, pain and pure rage.

"What happened to her?" I wanted to know. "Why is she so upset with that man?"

Then the entire wretched story rolled out. The mom was Sandy Fonzo. Her son took his own life after that man, Judge Mark Ciavarella, had sentenced Fonzo's 17-year-old son, Edward Kenzakowski, to six months in a Pennsylvania detention center for possession of drug paraphernalia.

The sentence seemed excessive to everyone because, according to Kenzakowski's mother, it was his first offense. And usually in such cases, especially teenagers, it is presumed the judge will be lenient in his ruling. But Judge Ciavarella was anything but lenient. And Fonzo says her son never recovered from the ordeal and eventually took his own life.

As fate would have it, the feds in Pennsylvania became suspicious of similar rulings by Ciavarella and launched an investigation. Ciavarella was found guilty of accepting nearly $1 million in kickbacks for sending thousands of teens to a juvenile facility owned by some of his friends.

"Call this mom. Let's get her on tonight," I said.

"We've already making the calls," replied my executive producer.

So our entire team just sat there quietly, fingers crossed, praying that Sandy Fonzo would come on CNN to tell her story.

For hours, we heard nothing. But right in the middle of the show, as I was interviewing an attorney about Ciavarella's case, my producer spoke into my earpiece saying, "Tell the audience we have the mom. She'll be on live in the next hour."

I continued on with the show. And in the commercial break before the interview, I asked Fonzo how she was doing. She told me she didn't know how she was doing, and that she and her family were basically numb. She told me she was nervous.

"You have no need to be nervous," I told her. "I got you." I wanted her to feel that talking to me was no different than talking to a concerned friend or neighbor. I thought about all the women in my life with sons and what they would do if they lost one of them. I wanted Sandy Fonzo to get it off her chest. And I was going to give her the opportunity to tell the world.

The interview went well. And her answer to my final question brought it home for me and for anyone who saw the interview. I said, "Can you ever forgive this judge?"

And in her own sobering words, fighting back tears, Fonzo responded: "No never, never. There is no justice. [Ciavarella] will never receive my sentence. What I have to live with [is] every day of my life without my son. [Ciavarella] left on that beautiful day yesterday to go back with his family. I have nothing anymore. Nothing. It was all for nothing. It was all for greed and for more and more. He never had enough. He took everything from me. And I'll never, never forgive him, no!"


Filed under: Anchors • CNN Newsroom • Don Lemon
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. cam lee

    When I was at a party at 17 my parents came down and pulled me out because they heard it wasn't age appropriate. They didn't call the police. When will parents take responsibility for their own children. Parents are supposed to parent not the police. I understand the judge was corrupt but she put her son in that position because she didn't have the guts and the father didn't have the guts to stand up to their own kid, Be a parent not a friend to your kid. This woman needs to forgive herself for a mistake she made that cost her son's life. And realize, as well, that he had other problems that caused him to take his own life. It is never just one thing. I feel for her loss but continuing to blame the judge and not see her part will only lead to a miserable life for her. What a shame.

    February 21, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  2. Derek

    Mommy's little "angel" was caught drinking and doing drugs. He was given his punishment for breaking the law but decided to take his own life instead of 6 months of juvi. Yup, must be the judge's fault.

    February 21, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  3. Pam Sundeen

    Question - -What is happening to the person who bribed these 2 judges? Isn't he being punished to full extent of the law for all the crooked money he made off the system.

    February 21, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  4. Ginger

    Over the last couple of years, I was close to sending my daughter to a bootcamp. I had done everything. My daughter was failing, skipping, etc...I grounded her, she still continued, we'd argue, she continued, I brought her to therapists, she continued, I locked her in a psych facility, she continued and finally stopped most of the destructive behavior. So, I know what this mom went through. So, don't judge her. When you watch your child go from an upstanding student to a destructive, careless human being, you get desparate for help them. And you believe a system that deals with these cases will help you. She was deceived by someone she thought she could trust to help her son. I thank God that the threat of putting my daughter into this type of place helped snap her out of it!

    February 21, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  5. Sean Braddy

    The judge is responsible. Youth detention centers are like prisons, they do no real good. Those youth are at the total mercy of staff members physically and mentally. They are mix in with other kids who have other issues and behavior problems. Any that have last the detention centers I work at did not leave better, when they finally got to leave. Those judges are indirectly and directly responsible. And my eyes it is not a white collar crime, it is worse.

    February 21, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  6. Della T. Franklin

    I think people are missing the point !! The punishment didn't fit the crime, for number one. For #2 the judge was getting kick backs, DAH !! and the people giving this money ?? DAH !! Too assume this young man had a drug or alcohol problem, because he was at a party is a pretty giant leap. He wasn't out car jacking, ripping old ladies pocketbook off their arms, robbing stores, selling drugs or stopped for OUI. As parents, I think we try to do the right thing, verses do nothing. Maybe this young man, saw his life in a bad and go down the tubes because, this judge, made the wrong call. And for what, $$$. It's almost like being "bullied", and how many kids have taken their own life ?? My heart goes out to the mom, death is forever, it is the end ! Peace

    February 21, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  7. please dont profit from justice

    it's is a sick scam that needs to be stopped. this judge is just the tip of the iceberg. yes, the mother may have let her son stray too far before she tried to help; she also employed poor judgement trusting the judicial system to help her in a "boys will be boys" scared straight tactic.

    this isn't the old days anymore where the police know the neighbors and bring the boys home to mom and dad when they are caught behaving in a delinquent manner. the judicial system is an industry now, and they are having a field day flipping pawns into cons and cashing in.

    the entire system profits from being clogged with violators. they round up kids every weekend, infringe upon their unalienable rights, catch them with something illicit, and then choke the system while cashing in on their violations.

    meanwhile, protecting and serving is taking a back seat.

    so let me get this straight:

    this kid gets caught with a pipe and gets 7 months (30 days in holding, 6 mos in juvi)

    the judge (an adult) gets caught in a kleptocratic ring that resulted in invol. manslaughter, and he walks that day and gets to go home to his family?

    February 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  8. John Walsh

    how can they let this man go home . He needs to rot in hell

    February 21, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  9. Maurice

    This is the American way. It is sick, despicable, and unjust. With all these people protesting injustice over there in the Middle East, you would think that all those people who have been victimized by the American Injustice system would get a hint, but no the media does an expert job keeping their minds diverted by "Lindsay Lohan just took a dump and McDonald's. Just imagine, if Americans were truly united – there would be hundred's of thousands, if not millions of angry people protesting like crazy – and this punk judge? He would be dragged out and beaten to death – torn apart by the very people he and his ilk spent their lives persecuting. Maybe they would stuff some cash in his mouth as he screams for mercy, and they could say "There's your cash for kids, scumbag, now die in pain" Obviously, as you can see by the video, a violent uprising as such is the ONLY way these crooks, who work for and are protected by the "system", are EVER going to pay. Oh, but I am so bad for pointing out a disappointing fact about our "free" country, and advocating violence. I know, I know, there are more pressing problems like "Lindsay Lohan has isn't feeling regular today"....OH SAY CAN YOU SEE?..................

    February 21, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  10. Duh

    I would never allow the JUDICIAL system to "help me" fix my child. The judicial system is not a free rehab institution.

    February 21, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  11. Andrew

    First of all, Derek, wake up. If every kid who smoked pot or drank at an underage party was locked up for 7-months, they should just put up razor wire around the local high school and lock them in. Take a look at the stats – and these are not new – for the past 40 years over 70% of kids aged 12 – 17 have experimented with one or both. A vast majority of kids drink and/or smoke pot in high school. Period.

    That behavior is barely cause for incarceration. Our current and previous two presidents are all known to have used illicit drugs in their youth. (Resisting the temptation to say maybe we would be better off if they went to boot camp...), but the reality is that many of today's corporate and community leaders went through the same process. Accountability? Yes. Incarceration? I do not think so.

    Incarceration is meant to protect the rest of us from people who are a threat to the community. It does not appear that this kid fit that bill. The boot camp and 7-month program with murderers, rapists and arsonists is both inappropriate treatment/consequence for what this kid did, and btw, it is expensive! Who is paying for it? I am and you are (if you pay taxes...).

    Should there be consequences? Absolutely. Take away the kids transport, their free Friday and Saturday nights, maybe even take him out of wrestling until he gets his act together. Parents need to hold their kids accountable. If, as a parent you can't do that, then think twice before applying for the job.

    I actually believe this woman was trying to do the right thing by using a scare tactic. Most parents were not even aware their kids were at this party, and the kid who hosted it probably has absent parents.

    Meanwhile a judge is taking bribes to place kids into a juvi program? Are you kidding me? And some of you are focused on the parent as the cause of this? I wonder how the judge would fair in that environment for 7 months? Th mother of this young man has every right to be disgusted with the judge and skeptical of the system.

    The reality – parents fail their children, and the system often times allows people to fall through the cracks. No parent or system is perfect. But the root cause of this is not the parent or the system. It is the lack of ethics and integrity of a few individuals. We should throw the book at this former judge and his cohorts.

    February 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  12. Kevin

    People are using this message board as a forum on how "kids need to be punished" and ignoring the crime here, this judge took bribes to send these kids to these detention centers. he needs to be in one, see how he likes it.

    February 21, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  13. Scott

    Hopefully someone will murder this scumbag. But then again I wouldn't call it murder, I'd more likely call it justice.

    February 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  14. Dean

    I don't believe sending the cops was correct but that's being a Monday-morning quarterback. The ridiculous penalties for minor drug offenses are ruining are country. I do not favor legalizing drugs, but we should not treat most drug cases as felonies. Sending a kid to a prison or quasi-prison is not the solution. This is a great example of how misguided our drug laws are. We have more people in prison per capita than any other country, and many of the prisoners are there for minor drug offenses. We should replace sentences with fines or other non-incarceration penalites. Use the savings to help address the underlying problems and to teach more about the negative effects fo drugs/alcohol (typically mental illness/depression).

    February 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  15. Ralph

    NEVER Ever involve the police in your teenagers affairs or you will regret it. There are places that can help and be understanding about what your kid is going threw. Cops are out to arrest and sometimes protect.

    February 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  16. Doug Driskell

    There is something missing here, perhaps the bigger part of the story. Who provided the bribe? Was management of the detention center being sub contracted to a private enterprise. Did they in turn bribe the judges to increase revenues. Were taxpayers ultimately paying for it all? I hope CNN will investigate and fill in the blanks.

    February 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  17. Anne

    God bless her and God keep her son in his loving embrace. My heart aches for her. She did the right thing and although I wish it could help heal her a little, I know it won't. I haven't lost a child, thank God, but I know I would be as devastated as this woman is and she has my hugs across this internet space.

    February 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  18. Glenn

    An eye for an eye. It is a bad thought but if I was in this situation I think I would make it right to my standards by my hand.

    Why is this judge not being arrested

    February 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  19. j.b.dixs

    The judge was wrong in what he did, no way around that. but if his mom and dad was good parents then the kid would not be in the spot that he was in. if they would of done a better job then he couldn't have done what he did and he would stand and take what he got for what he does do.
    the judge was in the wrong BUT SO WERE THE PARENTS!!!

    February 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  20. joycelen

    You rock, mom! If only more of us had the nerve to stand up to corruption. And call for an end to this insane "war on drugs" which incurs great expense to the tax payers and ruins young lives. You keep speaking up mom. This could be the beginning of something that will clean up our judicial system and change the laws concerning drug usage. More people should be like this mom! Our prayers are with you!

    February 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  21. Bob

    So, this lady's husband said he had "friends" in the police department who could pull their son out of a party and "teach him a lesson." Some friends. I'm sure this lady would not have been on board if she understood that her husband's friends would be pressing charges against her son. And, of course, she didn't realize that, once her son got into the "system" in that location, he would be sentenced to a boot camp by what apparently was a judge taking kickbacks from the private contractor running the boot camp. But the judge, now that he's been convicted for corruption, is being treated with leniency. Sounds like we have the best justice system THAT MONEY CAN BUY.

    February 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  22. Stacy

    It is sad that her son committed suicide, and sad that there is coruption in the courts.
    What really got me was the mother's attitude. She said something about him being sent with inner-city kids like they are lepors. So i guess suburban kids who do wrong should have less punishment than inner-city kids?

    February 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  23. Eric

    So it's the judge's fault this boy used drugs and was drinking while underage? Sounds as if the boy just couldn't live with the consequences of his OWN decisions. If her son was so important to her, she should have been a better Mother.

    February 21, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  24. Con

    This mother should not blame anyone else, especially the judge. She was the one who called the cops, she was the one who knew that her son, (no matter if he was even a "good wrestler") was hanging out with the wrong crowd and drinking and doing drugs...do what a mother should do and control your child. I am 20 years old and if i was ever doing anything bad my parents would take control like a good parent is supposed to be....if your son killed himself, the judge is the last person you should blame...he was just doing his job. Your son was the person who broke the law...

    February 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  25. Mike D

    If she kill the judge's son or daughter I wonder if the judge would feel remorseful. He does not care!!

    I hope the judge and his family get what is coming to them. His wife is equally to blame because she shared in his wealth and corruption.

    February 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  26. Dale56

    There are a number of posters here trying to blame the mother and ignoring the real issue at hand. This was a corrupt bribe taking judge handing out beyond unreasonable sentences in exchange for financial compensation. It is a complete betrayal of the public trust and he should be severely punished for it.

    February 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  27. cosmo

    "NEVER Ever involve the police in your teenagers affairs or you will regret it. There are places that can help and be understanding about what your kid is going threw. Cops are out to arrest and sometimes protect."

    This is an understatement.
    THE POLICE ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS.

    February 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  28. Rufas

    The judge and his actions aside, mom needs to quit being an apoligist for her actions AND for her son’s actions. No, not EVERY teen tries drugs! He was spiraling out of control, hanging with druggies and low lifes. His wrestling career was no doubt over. I know she is grieving, but her love for her son is blinding her to the truth.

    I did like her dressing down of the judge though. Showed real class.

    February 21, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  29. J

    So let me get this right, the judge put a gun to the kids chest and pulled the trigger? I guess I am just in aww at the amount of rage this Mother has. I don't know the whole story, I am sorry but I do not under any circumstances believe that this young man was johhny angel and just "fell in" with the wrong crowd one time, sadly I could tell by the way his Mother was talking and buidling him up, but not telling the real story that the bad choices that this kid had made had been ongoing. What I don't understand is why you would let the police handle anything with your children? Why did she or the kid's father march their fannies down to that party house and yank that kid by his ears and have a good old fashion comin' to Jesus meetin' with him about what was acceptable behavior for him? I am sorry for her loss, I really am, but my word that kind of anger toward this judge is NOT, let me repeat, NOT going to bring her son back, whether she feels that the judge was corrupt or not! Why not put that type of energy to speak out about underage drinking and drugs and ways to help the youth of this country!

    February 21, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  30. tully

    "NEVER Ever involve the police in your teenagers affairs or you will regret it. There are places that can help and be understanding about what your kid is going threw. Cops are out to arrest and sometimes protect."

    to say the least....

    Parents have a responsibility, but unfortunatley we have too much trust in some of these people we have given power to.

    The Police are not your friends, we need to be aware that anybody can be a potential threat to your well being

    February 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  31. tyedye

    Why does she blame the judge? She's the one who called law enforcement and got the legal system involved. I'm so sorry he killed himself, but it's not the judges fault.

    February 22, 2011 at 3:31 am |
  32. tip of iceberg

    i bet there are more judges that did this. i would look at judges in Sioux Falls, SD. they made bad people out of good people. punished kids too hard, too young. excessive trauma makes them turn to drugs to cope and the system does nothing to "help" them. they are making money off of it. it's a crock. seriously wrong. inhumane. they wreck people's lives.

    February 22, 2011 at 4:49 am |
  33. Cal

    Is the judge crooked, yes. Should the judge be punished, yes. But just like someone earlier mentioned, the mom should have had the guts to pull her son out of that party instead of calling the cops. Cops are not going to hook you up and not take your son to jail because you're a mom. The system doesn't work that way. She put her son in that situation. I do feel the punishment was too harsh but the kid obviously had more issues floating in his head. This is not a small guy we're talking about, he also a state qualified wrestler...how are you going to bully that guy in Juvy? The kid should have been taken to a therapist by his parents, period. America need to do a better job on parenting instead of constently blaming the system.

    February 22, 2011 at 5:10 am |
  34. Cal

    Andrew...I agree with some of the things you said but not all. When I was growing up, sports was my way of staying out of trouble. For one you had to keep up your grades to play, two- you had coaches constantly checking up on you. You mentioned taking wrestling away. If you did that, then the kid would have no reason to keep his grades up or be in school. I had a freind and great wrestler who was suspended by the principal right before county final (he was seated 1st in the tournament), I never saw that kid again. He was so distraught from not participating in what he loved that he dropped out of school and never came back.

    February 22, 2011 at 5:28 am |
  35. bill walker

    I completely agree with the Judge you have to take responsibility for your actions. Give him at least 30 years, that should pay for ruining other lives. Maybe he was jealous when hearing that Clarence Thomas wife got $700.000.00 a year? I'm sure she earned it. No wonder America is going down the tube. Yep the Rich get Rich and the poor get unemployed! You cannot buy the Judicial system in America but it appears you can rent it!

    February 22, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  36. J from NEPA

    I have followed this case very closely because I am from Northeastern PA. This month has now had her 15 mins of fame. This interview is complete BS. Her kids was caught drinking at a party with drugs, THAT THE MOTHER KNEW ABOUT. AGAIN, SHE KNEW HE WAS THERE!!

    February 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  37. loriey

    Yes these were/are troubled teens. What went wrong here is that this Judge sentenced kids to detention because he was PAID to do so.
    If these kids showed up without legal representation they were sent to Juvie for amounts of time determined by this Judge.
    The Judge called getting "kickbacks" "Finders Fee".....what??? Finder's Fee to find kids to fill the Juvenile Detention Center built by his friends!
    This Judge made a disgrace of himself & the legal system.
    To send over 5000 kids to "Juvie" for minor offense is beyond comprehension. These teens were by no means angels, but certainly did not deserve the punishment given by Judge Ciavarella.
    Parents at time are at their wit's end trying to corral a wayward child, it doesn't always work out the way the parent wants it to. Yes, some kids are hard core & require counseling, a boot camp or detention center but this is not what happened with the larger percentage of these teens.
    I can guarantee right now bloggers.......
    Pay close attention people, there's more to come on this than meets the eye, believe me you'll be shocked & surprised.

    February 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  38. Thomas Gonzalez

    This is very sad, but this isn't the first time judges have been in someone's pocket nor will it be the last. I strongly agree with a lot of what was said about this case, but I also see the heart ache around this story for I am a parent of two young men. My youngest has already been down the road of wanting to do drugs, but thank god he has a great mother who's taken a bigger step in being a better parent speaking with teachers, counselors and all his friends.

    I read all the time about what the most dangerous jobs are in this world of ours. Well, I truly believe it's being a parent. Not a friend, not someone who hangs out with their kids, not someone who gives them money and drops them off at the mall, not someone who says you can drink and do drugs as long as your in the house. Being a true parent is someone who can say no and I love you. I have a little over 15 yrs. of working with juveniles and the biggest thing they are pissed about is not having someone who tells them "no" and tells them they care.

    As, for the justice system. We haven't had a true justice system in a really long time. We spend more time on what we all think is politically correct and what will offend people. When we should be taking care of each other. The laws in this country protect people of power always have, while they destroy lesser people of power. Sad to say, but kids in this country have more power than adults.

    People forget that a crime committed by anyone is still a crime. I hope that the system will take care of the judge, but I truly don't see that happening as for the people that paid him off. Well let's just all say they will not be found out, they will toss money around to the right people and this will go away. The system what a joke. God Bless all true parents.

    February 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  39. Ryan

    To everyone blaming the mom for what happened, you do realize that this was his first offense, right? He had no prior criminal record, so his mom raised him well. He made a mistake, and this "judge" presumed he had an alcohol and drug problem. He was sent away for six months, which is not consistent with sentencing guidelines anywhere in the country. Also, the "judge" repeatedly violated the constitutional rights of defendants in his juvenile court, such as coercing them into waiving their right to counsel in some cases, and completely ignoring them when they were there.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  40. Dana Esposito

    Hello!!
    The judge was dirty. He wasn't thinking about this case, he was thinking about his kick back from his friends detention center. It's disgusting to think that anyone is blaming the boy or his mother!

    February 24, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  41. ed

    So lets get this straight it's appropriate to sent to jail for 6 months for possession of paraphernalia? By this standard what is the punishment for a trusted officer of the court accepting kickbacks? Death? Remember we are supposed to accept that what an officer of the court says is true – what now?

    February 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  42. Victor H. Rochester

    This man, ABOVE ANY OTHERS, as a JUDGE, SHOULD BE PUT IN JAIL! This is the kind of behavior, with no accountability, that leads
    to TYRANNY. That woman should sue him, The State. Short of
    that "A... sic. AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH,
    SAYETH THE LORD GOD. HE WILL GET HIS. IT SHOULD BE MEATED OUT IN PRISON; FINAL JUSTICE. EVEN CRIMINALS
    BELIEVE IN JUSTICE!

    February 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  43. Amy

    This seems like a typical reaction to someone who has money! They get a slap on the wrist, no prison time or nothing and show no remorse of what they did wrong and still think what they did was right, regardless. Eventhough the mother showed her frustration to the this so called monster... he's not a judge in my book. And he just carrys on like he does not have a care in a world. This kids is gone forever while this monster can continue on his life. You can't take back death... and you will have to answer to the one real Judge on Judgement Day.

    February 26, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  44. Nadia 1111

    No, there is no justice, dear lady, and this crooked judge will most likely not get what he deserve, but he will one day stand before the Judge in whose presence he'll be like a worm in the dust. And you'll be glad to see that day!

    February 27, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  45. Monica

    As heart breaking as this story is it is all too common occurence for young black males. Finally, this has landed in the white community and hopfully will received the much needed reformation of the justice system. Many children African American children are thrown away for minor offenses. I pray she will speak up for ALL children and not just her own.

    February 27, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  46. chris

    You have to feel like crap since indirectly, YOU caused his death. YOU called the cops. Man, sit down and talk to him. It's that (was) that simple.

    February 27, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  47. chris

    and in terms of him killing himself over drugs or being caught, not sure. I would have to think there were underlying issues.

    February 27, 2011 at 1:13 am |
  48. LYJ

    While in retrospect it was revealed that that there were ulterior motives in sending these teenagers to the juvenile center, with all the empathy with the tragedy of Ms. Fonzo, and while not aware of all the relevant facts, we should all look at the circumstances objectively and ask wasn't it the right decision to make ex-ante? I presume that the decision to send to a juvenile center , while discretionary, was within the legislative mandate and reasonable (would have been probably appealed otherwise.) Regrettably, nowadays, we are witnessing continuous deterioration in morals and ethics in all part of society which is manifested in brutal behavior, lacking minimal consideration, of individuals with a negative and harmful impact on our society. This usually starts with the lack of discipline accompanied by the inability of the parents and educational system to reinstate their authority over teenagers. The defense "he is just a child" or "he is experimenting like all the others", has became more and more widespread, and seems to have no inherent merits, but a convenient excuse of the tired parents and teachers for not taking any action. Hence, the judicial system is being forced to step in and fill the void left by the primary players who abandoned their traditional role to educate and take responsibility over these teenagers. Researches indicates that these misdemeanors may lead to much more sever misconducts. Thus, it is imperative to take appropriate action at early stages before the problem becomes much bigger one. When it is evident that the parents and education system failed, an appropriate institution with experts in the filed is the last resort to treat the problem before these teenagers become a real threat to the society. What was more disturbing and disappointing was the implied endorsement, whether rightly or wrongly, by Mr. Lemon, of the subjective position presented Ms. Fonzo. in spit of my long-time appreciation to the work of Mr. Lemon, i am afraid that this time the interview was not objective, portraying (and favorably) only one side. No adversarial questions were asked and the viewers were not exposed to contrary perspectives and comprehensive views on the issue. it could have been great opportunity to have a thorough and meaningful discussion. it seems that it was more important to get the interview rather than conducting it properly.

    February 27, 2011 at 2:29 am |
  49. PC

    Plain and simple, all you're seeing on the Court House steps was the guilt of the mother for calling the cops, which activated the legal process that the kid couldn't handle.

    Anyone thinking about siding with the Mom on this would also be in the wrong.

    If the judge HADN'T sent him to juvie (when full-on prison was an option), everyone would be giving him grief for giving special privileges to athletes or some other reason.

    It's unfortunate the child is dead, but his mother is the one who jumped the gun trying to put the scare of God into him, and the rest is on the shoulders of the person who pulled the trigger for not being able to accept the consequences.

    February 27, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  50. Charles Reese

    There are two types of justice in the US. One for celeb's that give slaps on the wrist. The other for common citizens where the full force of law takes hold. Yes, the judge is a scumbag.

    February 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  51. MJB

    The judge needs to go to jail. Many in our society can't do their jobs withoug getting some kind of kickback somewhere. Usually many are in a high paying job too. Like they make a 6 figure paycheck and want more, more and more. No common sense anymore from anyone.

    February 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  52. SuburbanBob

    I am in total agreement with Dana on this one. There can be NO excuse for a judge to accept money for his judgements. This guy deserves the maximum penalty prescribed by law... sounds like he sure as hell gave out overly harsh penalties. Possession of paraphenalia (that would be a pipe, a pack of papers, plastic baggie, etc.) is an overnight stay in jail at most. Anyone who thinks differently deserves to be the victim of a guy like this.

    February 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  53. Robert

    A young person drinks and does drugs like most young people will do or have done. experimenting , a part of life.
    BUT a Judge taking kick backs, to put away kids for cash ! Come' On.
    Another dishonest Judge.

    July 10, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  54. Peter

    "The letter of the Law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society". Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  55. Mimi

    Morning I feel for that Wonan who lost her Son in suasidal I feel for her pain. I am a humon being & it's hard in life today if that Judge is bad put him in jail too show him too respect people. Mimi

    August 13, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  56. Randy from Baton Rouge

    Judges operate with impunity everyday. This was this lady's big sweet child, and my heart absolutely aches for her. The child was in wrestling (requiring more guts and discipline than you or I have). I have residual effects of an "honorable" judge purportedly issuing a warrant in my life (no criminal history and no acton committed by me) based upon a child's word; all was a backdate and the warrant merely a ruse to obtain and keep money once the designate incompetent police broke in (called a knock-and-talk...but turned knock-and-enter). Bravo; let's get all the crooked judges out in the open; trouble is, that is every one of them.

    August 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  57. marty

    This very thing is going on with James P.Punch a Orleans county judge in western new york as well as other scandals and allegations over his 15+years on the bench and Albany ,new york does not do anything about it .why?his crime rate and drug issues are low.He is allowed to continue his bias and unethical reign of prejudice towards women and behind closed doors deals with the prosecuting attorney.

    April 30, 2014 at 12:57 am |

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