Colorado's "Feisty" Federal Judge

The Denver Post today has a detailed profile of Senior District Court Judge John Kane, who is well-known for challenging authority.

As a boy growing up in Depression-era Denver,John Kane learned to identify with those on the fringes of society, the powerless, those who were forced to sit in the balcony at movie theaters. He also learned to challenge authority — a skill he embraces with gusto as a federal judge.

Judge Kane was our first public defender in 1964. He served as a Deputy Director in the Peace Corps. He was appointed to the federal bench by President Carter in 1977. He's been an outspoken critic of the war on drugs for decades and of the draconian child p*rn sentencing guidelines. Most recently, he's been in the news for his decisive and much heralded rulings in inmate Jamal Hunter's abuse lawsuit against Denver sheriffs at the Denver County Jail. [More...]

Kane halted a Denver police internal affairs probe, urged federal authorities to investigate police and jail practices and hauled a prisoner into court for a highly unusual open deposition over the objections of city attorneys. The city recently settled the case by agreeing to pay former inmate Jamal Hunter $3.25 million.

On child p*rn sentencing, he told the Sentencing Commission:

"We do not see producers (of child p*rn) or the parents who sell their children or the stepfathers who attack them," Kane told the commission in October. "What we see are the men on dialysis confined to a wheelchair who spends all of his time confined already and no economic analysis of what it would cost to keep this man in prison."

When he sentenced a child p*rn defendant facing a kidney transplant to probation, rather than prison as called for by the guidelines, he examined the purpose of sentencing and punishment, invoking, among others, Lord Denning and Dostoyevsky.

[Defendant]Rausch has admitted guilt and the proof is evident and overwhelming. Even so, the utilitarian assertion is that every human being should be treated with at least a minimum of respect as a source of rights and expectations and not merely as an instrument for promotion of the social order. While the practice of punishment has been extant throughout the history of human culture, so, too, has been its cautionary curtailment.

Here is a 2009 interview with Judge Kane in which he blasts the War on Drugs. Another must read: a column he write for the now defunct Rocky Mountain News in 2002, America is In a Fix, in which he blasts not only the war on drugs, but law enforcement's over-reliance on informants:

And let's not forget the "other victims'' of the so-called War on Drugs ....the police who have given up honorable and challenging work investigating and detecting crime because they have become addicted to and dependent upon an informant-based system reminiscent of Lenin's dreaded Cheka; families forced to select one member to plead guilty lest the entire family be charged; prosecutors and defense attorneys who have turned the temples of justice into plea-bargaining bazaars; and, most painful to me, judges who let this happen and don't say a word.

Judge Kane is a state treasure.

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    Judge Kane sounds like a wonderful person, (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by fishcamp on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 04:29:04 PM EST
    so why can't we get people like him in Washington to run the  federal government the right way?  Those are terrific articles about him you linked to...thanx.

    I was thinking... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 04:33:07 PM EST
    we need this guy on the Supreme Court...he smells what's cookin'.