Saturday, April 17, 2010

Judge Jamie Zander Rejects Notion of Debate

He says it will do no good, just wants normalcy and routine

...A rich boy goes to college and a poor boy goes to work...

- some outlaw troubador whose name I don't recall

Judge Jamie Zander is a constitutional officer and the
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2, of Bosque County.

He does not wish to be interviewed, nor does he want to
engage in a debate with his opponent.

"I don't have all that much education," he told The
Legendary. He is suspicious that someone is trying to point
that out to the public.

He doesn't think a debate would help him at all.

¿Quien sabe?

The truth is that the judge does have quite a lot of
education. It's the kind that helps a man do his job and do
it in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, the Texas State
Constitution, the Rules of Criminal and Civil Evidence and
the Codes of Criminal and Civil Procedure as promulgated by
the statutes passed by the Legislature and the rules set by
the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

The Texas Justice Court Training Center has made sure of
that. It's an agency of the Court of Criminal Appeals, its
training program something that is required by the Code of
Judicial Conduct.

The Judge has passed all his classes.

That's what The Legendary calls education.

So, sue me.

I don't have much education, either.

It's a pretty tall order, but he gets the job done, as he
did when he was for many decades the Chief of the Clifton
Volunteer Fire Department.

In his tenure as Judge, he has had but one complaint lodged
against him before the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct.
They asked him for clarification on what, exactly, he did.

He asked a lawyer about a matter of procedure that came up
in his Court. He asked the County Attorney.

He believes in that. It's the only legal advice he will
give complainants, defendants, plaintiffs or those who have
been sued in his Court.

It's engraved on a narrow red plaque suspended from the wall
above his head.

"See A Lawyer."

The Commission wrote him back after a review of the facts
and said they could find no fault with his procedure. It is
the only complaint that has ever been lodged against him.

Now, there's a man who wants to take his job away from him.

Walt Lewis.

He doesn't want to be interviewed, either.

He wants to make statements about how "good old boy
politics" is fouling the judicial atmosphere and other
matters relating to Justice Court, Precinct 2.

He refuses to expand on his statements until June.
Sometimes, it's June. Other times, it's July. He hasn't
quite made up him mind about that, as yet, either.

"We're still formulating the issues," he told The Legendary.

Nevertheless, he has made several bold statements about
irregularities in the procedures followed in the Court.

Nothing specific. He wouldn't want to be premature.

Like Richard Nixon's tactics when he revealed he had a
secret plan to end the war, he's behaving the way Lyndon
Johnson said Nixon behaved.

"Well, that mean old man. He knows how to end this war, but
he won't tell us how," President Johnson said.

Saith The Legendary, "I said that."

I'm allowed. Look it up. It's called the First Amendment.

Judge Zander has no such concerns. He wishes to speak off
the record. Yes, that's true. Why?

Because it wouldn't do him any good to do otherwise, he

Fair enough.

The Legendary asked him what he did the previous day. That
was Wednesday.

Certainly, it's a matter of record - no secret there.

First order of business was to take one of the babies to
school. It's the first thing he does each business day.

He said he went to the Court, then drove to the Courthouse
to drop off the receipts at the Treasurer's office. He also
dropped off paperwork and bookkeeping records required by
law so the Auditor can complete the record.

Since he had no court sessions scheduled, he left the
administrative details of fielding complaints, filing
petitions and accepting fees to his clerk.

Now what?

He went to the rodeo grounds to teach youngsters how to keep
from getting their fingers mashed in a lariat and losing a
digit to the weight of a cow, a steer, or a calf.

"When they reach the end of that rope, something's got to
give. If that finger or that thumb is in the way, you know
what's going to happen."

It's something any ranch kid needs to know - and how. It
takes all ten fingers to get that job done and he's still
got all his.

He was quick to let me know that he also saddled the horses
and hauled them to the grounds.

I don't know for sure, but I'll bet you ten dollars he
trained those horses. He's that kind of cowboy, judging
from the cut of his jib.

It was a slow day, but something tells the Legendary that he
was never out of arm's reach of a telephone.

The judge, smiled, reached into the breast pocket of his
immaculate roper shirt and withdrew his phone.

It's that kind of job.

Had someone died a suspicious, unattended or violent death,
he would have had to go there and see the circumstances,
order an autopsy, and fill out a death certificate to turn
over to the County Clerk.

It calls for a ruling on the spot.

"I just do it and go on about my business," said. He has
never stopped to consider if there are more deaths from
natural causes in periods of extreme cold or heat.

It's just not part of the job.

He does keep a stack of photos available to show people the
results of trying to mix alcohol and guns. It's a grim set
of pictures of a man who chose to end his life with a .44
magnum. He was drunk.

He shows those pictures to people who drive drunk. Some of
them are kids.

Had law enforcement required it, he would have been
available for a hearing over any of the numerous matters
that come up - affidavits of probable cause, arrest and
search warrants, magistrations. That's the correct word for
we have always called "charging" a defendant or "arraigning"
an accused offender.

The law is very precise in these matters. The Judge knows
that. He has quite a lot of education, though he won't say
he does in just so many words.

Any hassles he's had stem from changes in the administrative
rules of Court that he learned of at the Center's seminars
for Justices of the Peace.

There's this pesky verb, he says - "shall." It means what
it says. It doesn't mean maybe, or we have never done it
that way before or around here we do it this way.

It means you shall do it this way if you want your criminal
causes and the civil petitions filed in your Court to
withstand the scrutiny of appeals courts.

In his case, an appeals court means County Court At Law,
District Court, the 10th Court of Appeals and the Texas
Supreme Court or Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

It's serious business, the matter of magistration of
criminal cases. A defendant must be informed of his rights
and they are numerous. He has a right to see a lawyer, the
only recommendation the Judge has ever made. He has a right
to terminate an interview at any time. He also has the
right to reasonable bail, something the Judge sets at
magistrations each morning at the County Jail.

There you have it. No debate. No interview. No story.

The Legendary is just as happy as he was when he darkened
the Judge's door.

We parted friends.

One final question: What does he think about Walt Lewis?

"I respect him. I respect him because he married my best
friend's widow and raised his kids. For that, I respect him
and I always will."

It was the most productive non-interview The Legendary ever
pried out of a man.

Hell of a good story, though there is no story.

Aw, shucks.

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