Hats off to Dane County Circuit Judge Ellen Berz! Everyone can be proud for supporting her for the bench.
This blog is often used to urge support for gun control. In fact I did so just this morning. But I also am very much in favor of judges who use the power they have to throw the book at those who use guns in their violent deeds. Such was the case this week in Madison.
In the case of Dreyon James there can be no other reaction than knowing justice was served.
Before sentencing James, Berz had promised that she would sentence anyone convicted of committing a crime with a gun to prison. “If I am the judge, if you use a gun, you are going to prison,” she said. “It is that simple.”
Bravo for that attitude and commitment to the public which she serves. Meanwhile some of those in the courtroom, including James, failed to understand the gravity of his crime.
At the close of James’ sentencing hearing, Berz first announced his sentence for second-degree reckless endangerment, for which she gave him three years in prison. Some of the group for James, which packed the courtroom, applauded the seemingly lenient sentence, leading Berz to warn them they would have to leave with another outburst.
Berz then announced a 12-year sentence for second-degree reckless homicide, and this time the crowd vocally registered shock. James kicked at the table in front of him and stood, and as bailiffs swarmed him James struggled as he was dragged from the courtroom.
More bailiffs converged on the courtroom as screaming could be heard in the hallway and the courtroom was cleared.
After about 10 minutes, court reconvened and James was brought back strapped to a restraint chair, tears in his eyes, to hear the remainder of his sentence.
There is a price to be paid for using a gun in a criminal act. We must have more judges who make that clear every day from the bench.
Thanks to Judge Berz.