They say that “justice is blind.” Many who use the phrase today do so ironically, pointing out travesties in our judicial system.

Today, a child sexually abused seven years ago has yet to receive justice.

In 2012, babysitter Eric Bard was charged with sexually assaulting a 4-year old girl for four months. The indictment contained 21 counts. The protracted proceedings took three years. During that time, Judge Donald Marden conducted a conference with District Attorney Meaghan Maloney directly relating to the charges against Bard without his attorney present.

In July 2015, Bard was convicted on his conditional guilty plea. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Bard’s appeal objected to the nefarious judge/prosecutor conference. Three years later, Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled the conference violated Bard’s right to a fair trial, and erased his guilty plea and 50-year sentence. A new trial was called.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Why did the court take three years to process a guilty plea matter? No trial with witnesses was required. Why did it take three more years for the court to nullify Bard’s conviction?

Why has 15 months passed since the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision without Bard being retried? Critics should be up in arms about that travesty — in the decision, the court stated: “We are confident that the trial court chiefs will specially assign a judge to address the matter in an expedited manner.”

Efforts to find out why this case still denies justice to this child have resulted in zilch.

Maloney was disciplined weeks ago. Not a word yet regarding discipline of the judge. Maloney’s fault was her answers to the judge’s questions. By comparison, the judge violated Bard’s right to a fair trial. Why this unexplained double standard for the judge?

How much longer must this child wait? In the Bard case, justice is both blind and dreadfully denied.

 

John Benoit

Manchester

(The writer is a former state senator and Maine district court judge.)

 

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