St. Louis prosecutors are seeking to remove Judge Evelyn Baker from more than 150 criminal cases. The judge criticizes prosecutors’ “ridiculous” sentencing recommendations, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The chief prosecutor, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, reportedly considers Baker too lenient and is signaling her frustration by seeking Baker’s removal from a large number of cases. Baker retorted: “That’s such a joke. The safety of citizens. Whatever happened to the efficient and effective administration of justice?” The judge said the court system was already bogged down, and requests for her disqualification will cause more delays. One of the cases dates to 1993.
Yesterday, Baker granted about 46 of the disqualification motions and denied nine.
Baker said prosecutors often seek sentences that are “very high,” particularly for first-time drug offenders involved in a nonviolent crime. “Treatment is a lot cheaper than incarceration for an extended period of time,” she said. Asked for her perception of the sentencing recommendations she gets from the p-prosecutors, Baker said: “Ridiculous.” She said that in one case, prosecutors recommended a 20-year sentence for an aging addict accused of possession of heroin who had no record of violent crimes. In contrast, they recommended the minimum sentence, 10 years, for a “gangbanger” convicted of second-degree murder. Data on the circuit attorney’s Web site – www.circuitattorney.org – offered some examples of the disparity between prosecutors’ recommendations and the judge’s final sentencings.