Saturday, August 13, 2022

Who is Virginia Amato? Seattle judge slammed for implying man would be ADMINISTRATED in prison

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The judge defended her actions, saying everything she said to the defendant was in good faith

A King County District Court judge was admonished by the state commission for her statements from the bench that a defendant would be raped by a prison inmate if he did not change his behavior. Judge Virginia Amato faced a great deal of backlash and criticism for her statements made last August. She reportedly told the unnamed defendant that he was on his way to “becoming Bubba’s new best friend in state prison.”

Judge Virginia Amato was elected in November 2018 and presided over the indictment of a man charged last August with domestic violence assault and resisting arrest, according to the determination, agreement and warning issued June 24 by the Commission Executive Director J. Reiko Callner. According to the order, Amato determined that the man’s alleged crimes had been committed while he was on probation on other matters, before imposing conditions of release.

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“Hopefully that gives you a vivid picture to think about … And if you think I’m joking, I’m not,” the judge said, according to a complaint. The defendant said he understood what she was saying, while the judge added, “People in the penitentiary have mothers and sisters and nieces and cousins ​​who they don’t want anyone out there mistreating them.” She warned, “And They’re going to take that out on you in jail. So think about it because that’s where you’re piling up crime.”

Although further details of the defendant’s criminal past were not given and the outcome of the case is also unclear, it was said that the man had no previous criminal charges and it would be almost impossible for the judge to send him to jail even if he did would have been convicted. A confidential complaint was filed in October with the commission responsible for reviewing and handling complaints of judicial misconduct, and Amato was served with an indictment in December, the order said. However, it is not clear who spoke out against Amato’s remarks.

The judge confirmed that she made the statements in the complaint, but she defended her actions by saying that whatever she said to the defendant was in good faith, as she wanted him to change his behavior and it wasn’t personal. “Although insensitive and thoughtless, they were not motivated by bias or malice towards the defendant,” she said. Regardless of her alleged intent, the Conduct Commission ruled that Amato violated Washington requirements that judges “shall uphold the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.”

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“The gravity of the allegations and their possible consequences could and should have been communicated by the judge without implying that an accused could be raped in prison if he continued his unlawful conduct,” the order reads. “The words and images chosen were inappropriate, impolite and inappropriate for a law enforcement officer. They demeaned the defendant and other detainees, played on stereotypes and exploited fears about the criminal justice system.” According to the order, Amato’s comment during the indictment in the case, in which the defendant was presumed innocent, was found to be inappropriate and irrational. Amato sought advice from senior judges, the order said, and she agreed to attend a one-hour ethics training session on courtroom etiquette.

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