Exiting Judge O’Neal Exposed for Wasteful Sentencing
John Taft, Investigative Reporter Ed/Op
GRANTS PASS, Or 2-28-03 -- An angry Josephine County judge ready to quit stands accused of wantonly wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars in a local courtroom on Monday, February 3rd. This judge showed only disdain for hard earned taxpayer dollars when he sentenced a local man to 180 days in jail for contempt of court.
"Man gets year in Boatnik forgery case," reads a headline in the Grants Pass Daily Courier on February 4th. A jury found Christopher Youngblood, 22, guilty of three forgery counts and one count of filing a false report. A reliable source claims, Youngblood was offered a plea bargain of 5-days in jail by the DA’s office. Youngblood refused the plea offer thinking he could do better in court. He didn’t. For the crimes he was convicted and sentenced to 120 days in the county jail in addition to the contempt of court time.
Taxpayer Punished by Judge
Youngblood represented himself in court and while doing so he angered the Honorable Judge J. Loyd O’Neal, also know for his alleged mishandling and bungling of the still smoldering T. J. Burris trials. The Josephine County jail site shows Youngblood is serving 180 days for contempt of court. Jail time costs about 65 dollars a day. This means the taxpayers will be footing a bill of about $11,700 to incarcerate and pay for Youngblood’s contempt of court charge. The total cost for Youngblood’s combined jail time of 300 days is about $19,500 or round it off at $20,000 for his nonviolent crime and offending O’Neal. O’Neal is thoughtlessly punishing both the taxpayer and Youngblood. In this instance it appears taxpayer dollars have been ill-used by O’Neal to assuage his expensive ego. There are better and more imaginative ways to handle a case like this than stiffing the taxpayer, but this is typical procedure for the county criminal justice system.
No Lemonade for Criminal Justice, it’s Caviar and Wine
The DA’s office wasn’t particularly interested in prosecuting this case as the defendant was allegedly offered the five days in jail on a plea bargain. Compare this to the 120 days he received for the same charge by a court conviction. The five days would have cost the taxpayers $325. Compare this to the 120 days costing $7,800 to house Mr. Youngblood. The question is, would Youngblood become a better citizen after 120 days in jail compared to 5 days in jail? Apparently the DA’s office thought 5 days was sufficient. So, if 5 days was good enough for a plea-bargain which was refused, where is the common sense in 120 days for a courtroom conviction? The crime is the same, only in this case it ran the gauntlet through O’Neal’s courtroom. The result was that the taxpayer got stuck with the tab, while the judge and prosecutor dined on caviar and wine. It seems this sample case goes a long way in explaining why the local criminal justice system continually appears before the budget committee with a tin cup soliciting more funds for high living. Taxpayers are funding a system devoid of common sense and true justice. Further, it appears those employed in the local and national criminal justice systems use their positions to carry out their own personal agendas rooted in ego, greed, and pride.
O’Neal’s Folly Needs to be Remedied
The Oregon Observer and StrobeZone are requesting that Presiding Circuit Court Judge Gerald Neufeld review this ridiculous contempt of court sentencing melted out by the exiting O’Neal. The 180 days in jail for contempt of court will cost the taxpayer nearly $12,000, and is a blatant waste of dollars by a cash strapped criminal justice system. This kind of irrational behavior by a judge neither promotes public safety or good stewardship of public funds. This was not a violent crime against society, but only words that excited the quitting Judge O’Neal. If O’Neal wants Youngblood in jail for an extra 180 days, let O’Neal pay for it out of his own private funds, not the public’s. If Judge Neufeld does not correct Judge O’Neal’s folly, then he will be considered to be condoning and supporting judicial inefficiency and wasting valuable taxpayer dollars that could be better spent to protect the public in Josephine County. It appears that there is not a shortage of money in the courthouse, but of common sense.
John Taft can be reached at email@example.com This article will be posted on http://www.strobezone.homestead.com