It’s sometimes a more glaring problem than at other times, and many who have ever been at the mercy of any judge, in any courtroom, for any cause, knows the uneasy anxiety that having an important part of your life and your future determined by a single stranger can bring on.
Then again, there are those times when you just scratch your head in disbelief and the leniency or apparent disregard for the law a judge exhibits in their ruling.
When I went to school, it was in the seventies. The students were the ones getting busted for drug possession. Things have changed a lot in the forty years since then.
The heroin possession charges and subsequent disciplinary action against one New York City school teacher are the subject of this piece and the cause of my present consternation.
Damian Esteban is a tenured public school teacher, who happened to carry 20 small packets of heroin into a Manhattan courthouse last year. It was an honest mistake, he just forgot they were there. It could have happened to anyone.
A State Supreme Court judge ruled in the case that that was more or less true. Esteban had appealed the City Education Departments decision to terminate him, as a result of the criminal behavior. The judge ruled that termination was “excessive and shocking to the court’s sense of fairness.”
He sent the ruling of an arbitrator back to the Education Department with instructions to lighten up on the punishment. The judge, in his determination, cited Mr. Esteban’s lack of a criminal record and previous drug addiction as a basis for his decision. The judge also noted that, “The arrest was not for conduct at the school site, or involving any of its students,” and that, “There is no evidence that this one arrest or the publicity it generated has impaired his ability to teach or that he has lost the respect of his students.”
That may be, and Mr. Esteban is fortunate to have had such a considerate judge be the one who decided his fate. He may even be a sort of hero to his students, especially those who are fond of a little contraband now and then themselves. So instead of being shunned by the community, he’s now a celebrity of sorts, the “bad boy” teacher who beat the rap. Yeah, things are different now.
Rick Wells is a conservative constitutionalist author who contributes to popular online conservative media outlets. You can follow Rick on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Rick-Wells/1405080846374047?ref=hl