Letter to the Editor:
On November 14th, the Criminal Justice Student Association (CJSA) held its first speaker event of the academic year. The Honorable Patricia K. Costello gave a lecture on “The Role of a Chief Judge: Managing Crises and Improving the System.” Judge Costello discussed a range of issues spanning her 25-year career within the Judiciary as a superior court judge, including the last decade as the Assignment Judge in Essex County.
Over 100 students were in attendance to hear Judge Costello speak on the interactions between judges, administrators, defendants, victims, and the press, among other stakeholders in the justice system. Judge Costello also spoke on the importance of the Sheriff’s Office and its impact on the operations of a courthouse. The Judge’s address showed that these daily interactions proved to be considerably more complex than expected. Among other obligations, the Sheriff’s Office is principally responsible for overseeing the security of the courthouse which is a complex operation. The Sheriff is often compelled to balance the protection of the courts with maintaining a positive image within the community – a critical aspect of their job because the Sheriff is an elected official. These dual and sometimes competing goals can be challenging for the Sheriff who must make the difficult choices in where and how to allocate limited resources.
Not unlike the Sheriff’s Office, the press also serves a pivotal role in the community that can present challenges in the day-to-day management of a courthouse. Aside from the core function and connection the press has within the courts, the judge discussed specific instances when in the course of doing their job, members of the media can expose jurors and victims with undue risk by breaching the court’s policy and procedure.
Students commented very positively about having had the opportunity to hear the first-hand experiences of a former Assignment Judge. One criminal justice student noted that it was a special event and that she appreciated having the judge come speak to students because it gave her a different perspective on the justice system. Faculty also thought that the speaker event was successful based on students’ feedback and conveyed their appreciation to Judge Costello for her thought-provoking and insightful lecture. The CJSA looks forward to scheduling more speakers in the future.
– Matthew Sloan, student