BRADFORD COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA JUDGE JEFFREY SMITH doled out an unacceptably harsh penalty against student streaker Russell Chmieleski, sentencing him to jail for six months to two years for a graduation prank, that he has decided was hard-core indecent exposure.
In all of the reporting about this novelty story about a young man’s momentary lapse of judgment that is landing him in jail, no one is focusing on this ridiculous judge.
Who is Judge Jeffrey Smith? He has two sons whom I hope have successfully hid from their father any harmless pranks they may have done growing up. But here is his profile.
The first graf reads:
Judge Smith has been President Judge of the Bradford County Court of Common Pleas since 1983, when he was appointed to office by Governor Dick Thornburgh. In 1985, he was elected to the office at the age of 32, becoming the youngest person ever elected judge in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Before becoming President Judge, he served Bradford County as Assistant District Attorney and as Family Court Hearing Master.
What is missing from this is that he was disciplined himself by the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline in 1997. Judge Smith was found to be negligent in performing the duties of his office. The statement of reprimand is here.
Given Smith’s own standards, I think that the reprimand he received was rather light.
What makes this particular case even more odd is that as recently as October 8th in the local Towanda, Pennsylvania newspaper, the Daily and Sunday Review, reported that:
Bradford County District Attorney Steve Downs appeared at the commissioners’ meeting Thursday, urging the board to authorize a criminal justice study to determine the best course of action on how to handle Bradford County’s ever-increasing inmate population.
One telling line from the article:
Schrader, Downs, and others at the meeting agreed that Bradford County Judges Jeffrey Smith and John Mott are good men who are doing the best they can under the circumstances. However, Downs continued to press for the study, saying that it could be used to persuade the judges that alternatives to incarceration are available.
It sounds like Towanda, Pennsylvania has a primitive judge who has disconnected from the consequences of many of the decisions he is handing down.
If he is really overcrowding his prisons with cases like Russell Chmieleski’s, then this guy needs a sabbatical and needs to recalibrate.
Note to Fox News, how about some coverage on the judge?
— Steve Clemons