Handling a High Visibility Case with High Visibility Criticism

How immune are judges to public criticism? Even judges with lifetime appointments can succumb to pressure. Is it worse if you are an elected judge? Either way, how a judge reacts is very important.

A decades-old feud between a Philadelphia judge and the late actor Charlton Heston may have helped a Pennsylvania man get his 1998 murder conviction overturned. A U.S. appeals court granted Paul McKernan’s appeal, ruling that the judge who found him guilty 19 years ago, Judge  Lisa Richette, may have felt pressure to dispel Heston’s claim that she was soft on crime. Heston, known for his starring roles in films like “The Ten Commandments,” “Ben-Hur” and “Planet of the Apes,” was also famous as the longtime president of the National Rifle Association. At the group’s 1998 convention in Philadelphia, Heston called Richette, then  a local judge, “Let ’em Loose Lisa.”

Joseph Ax of Reuters has this report on a ruling that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued. 

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