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Judge says no to Marine recruit
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, March 08, 2008

I've gotten a few emails concerning this story. Here's the gist:
Shawn Sage long dreamed of joining the military, and watching "Full Metal Jacket" last year really sold him on becoming a Marine.

But last fall, a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner dashed the foster teen's hopes of early enlistment for Marine sniper duty, plus a potential $10,000 signing bonus.

In denying the Royal High School student delayed entry into the Marine Corps, Children's Court Commissioner Marilyn Mackel reportedly told Sage and a recruiter that she didn't approve of the Iraq war, didn't trust recruiters and didn't support the military.

"The judge said she didn't support the Iraq war for any reason why we're over there," said Marine recruiter Sgt. Guillermo Medrano of the Simi Valley USMC recruiting office.

"She just said all recruiters were the same - that they `all tap dance and tell me what I want to hear.' She said she didn't want him to fight in it."

Sage, 17, said he begged for Mackel's permission.

"Foster children shouldn't be denied (an) ability to enlist in the service just because they're foster kids," he said. "Foster kids shouldn't have to go to court to gain approval to serve one's country."

Mackel, a juvenile dependency commissioner at the Children's Court in Monterey Park, declined through a clerk to speak about any court case or comments she may have made in court.
Now, to begin with, there is the issue of guardianship and foster children. I'm no expert on the matter, but it seems to me that it would be the state who has taken the responsibility inherent in guardianship since the foster care program is a government run program. Whether you like that or not, that's what exists. And that means for minor children, it has the final say in matters pertaining to the child until that child reaches his or her majority.

However, that said, what we're talking about here has nothing to do with discharging legal responsibility, but instead denial of something simply because of the personal belief of the judge. Not law. Not precedent. Nothing more than her dislike of a particular war if the story is correct.

Some will argue that if this young man were under his parent's roof, they could indeed do precisely the same thing this judge did. That is, refuse to sign the recruiting papers because they disagree with the war.

Yes. That is their right as a parent. There is no legal obligation for a parent to be fair and impartial. When the child turns 18, he will do what he wishes as is his right. So, they will argue, the court, in this case, is doing nothing different than some parents would do. Here's where we disagree. The role of the court is to be fair and impartial in its application of the law. Its function isn't to rule by whim and personal prejudice.

Now, I don't know the law in this case or precedent, but I do know that if what is reported is true, and the only thing the judge cited as a reason for denying this young man the authority to sign up for a delayed-entry program with the Marines (note that he still wouldn't go until he was 18 under DEP, something he's going to do anyway in a year) was her prejudice against both the war and the military, then she has no legal foundation upon which to base her refusal.

I have no idea if this can be appealed, but it should be. And I have no idea if this is an elected judge or an appointed judge, but if elected someone should start a recall petition and if appointed, her performance in this case should be reviewed immediately.

We're either a nation of laws or a nation of men. Nations of men are ruled by whim. And this seems to me to be a classic case of just that.
 
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Comments
Truly disgusting! Surely this can not be legal!
 
Written By: Gregoir
URL: http://
I suspect that in such a case the judge is supposed to decide what she or he thinks is in the best interest of the child. That inherently involves subjective calls. If a judge thinks that a 17 year old, motivated by an emotional reaction to a movie, made a decision not in his long term interest for whatever reason, then she should deny the request. He’ll be 18 in not too long.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
i think i have to agree a bit with erb here.. I dont agree with the judge, but as far as i know the judge did what she was supposed to. a personal opinion about the situation. I dunno.
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
I dont agree with the judge, but as far as i know the judge did what she was supposed to. a personal opinion about the situation.
Part of what is being missed here is this is a delayed entry program which means the enlistee goes nowhere until he’s 18. However it allows the recruiter to work with and prepare the recruit for his enlistment, gives him preference in job choice and, in this case, a monetary bonus.

If the young man is going to do it anyway when he’s 18, isn’t she depriving him of experiences (and money) which will better prepare him for what he will eventually do? Why is that legally the right thing to do?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
If the young man is going to do it anyway when he’s 18, isn’t she depriving him of experiences (and money) which will better prepare him for what he will eventually do? Why is that legally the right thing to do?
What a 17 year old wants to do today isn’t necessarily what an 18 year old will choose tomorrow. The judge may think that with a bit of time the boy will (in her opinion) "come to his senses." Bad decision by the judge? Perhaps. But I don’t think it can be seen as illegal.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The judge may think that with a bit of time the boy will (in her opinion) "come to his senses."
Then the kid can back out before actually enlisting. The DEP does not legally obligate the child to enlist when he is 18 — it is not an actual enlistment.

Therefore, that cannot be used as a logical reason to deny the boy to enter the DEP.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
So, to recap, you don’t know the law or the precedent and also can’t say that what was reported is an accurate representation of what happened, yet you feel comfortable claiming that the judge should be recalled.

There’s only one word for that kind of blinding dumb: Macaca!
 
Written By: jpe
URL: http://
There’s only one word for that kind of blinding dumb: Macaca!
Umm ... still mixing up who worked for Allen from this blog, eh?

We know which word applies to that, don’t we?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Therefore, that cannot be used as a logical reason to deny the boy to enter the DEP.
Or legal reason.

The problem here is the defenders are thinking as a parent might and applying those sorts of prejudices. That’s not the court’s job.

As asked, what fair and impartial legal reason can be applied to this situation to reject the young man’s petition to enter into the DEP?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I’m inclined to agree with Scott here, too.

Much as I may vehemently disagree with the commissioner’s views on Iraq and the military, she does seem to sincerely consider enlistment as not being in the young man’s best interests. Since he’s still a minor and a ward of the state, it’s her job to make that call. Her decision was both ignorant and incorrect, but not illegal. And not really immoral, either — I would actually be more concerned in that regard if, despite a genuine (however misguided) belief that the military/recruiters were untrustworthy, Mackel signed off on the enlistment anyway.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Professor Erb said:
I suspect that in such a case the judge is supposed to decide what she or he thinks is in the best interest of the child. That inherently involves subjective calls.
Josh seconded it with this:
i think i have to agree a bit with erb here.. I dont agree with the judge, but as far as i know the judge did what she was supposed to. a personal opinion about the situation.
I agree that she is acting for the state and the kid is a ward of the state. I could support her decision, while vehemently disagreeing with it, if only she hadn’t used the language of the bigot. In my estimation that disqualifies her as a proper guardian of the young man. It’s like allowing David Duke to be a guardian and role model. She should be dismissed because of her intemperate and bigoted views.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
...she does seem to sincerely consider enlistment as not being in the young man’s best interests...
Based on what?

And remember, this isn’t an ’enlistment’. It is entry into the DELAYED enlistment program. That program helps prepare the young man to become an enlistee - something he plans on doing in a year anyway.

How is not allowing this preparatory time "in his best interest" when it is clear he plans to enlist when of age?

It is also a program that stresses (since the recruiter is going to stay on him to do this) he complete high school.

Additionally, if she thinks that may not be what he really wants to do (and that’s not at all clear in the story - in fact that seems to be all he’s ever wanted to do), more exposure to the military, not less, is the best thing to dissuade him.

So I continue to have difficulty with the idea that she acted in his best interest here. It still seems to me that she had an opportunity to act on her prejudices and took it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I agree that she is acting for the state and the kid is a ward of the state. I could support her decision, while vehemently disagreeing with it, if only she hadn’t used the language of the bigot. In my estimation that disqualifies her as a proper guardian of the young man. It’s like allowing David Duke to be a guardian and role model. She should be dismissed because of her intemperate and bigoted views.
That’s the strongest argument I’ve seen against her. She used her blatant political views to justify the choice. If she had said "I do not believe it is in his best interest to sign up for military service at this time, based on his age and apparent motivation (seeing a film and having an emotional connection), and therefore I refuse to approve this," that would be less objectionable.

As for McQ’s argument, he obviously disagrees with the judge about what the "court’s job" is. But McQ’s view is rooted less on legal grounds than his own opinion, and if it comes to opinion of how far the state should go in using a judge’s opinion about what is good for a child, then the judge’s opinion ultimately is what determines what the court’s job is.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I guess i would hope he can appeal this in some way, perhaps get a high up court or a group of judges to decide. I guess i do have issues with one opinion being used to decide this mans fate. In some ways i totally feel for him, i mean at 17 your basically able to make decisions for yourself, but there must be a cutoff somewhere where they state sees you less than an adult. Perhaps there should be a court to allow foster children approaching 18 to get erarly release from the state?
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
"and watching "Full Metal Jacket" last year really sold him on becoming a Marine"

If that’s what sold him, perhaps the judge made the right decision, though for the wrong reason.

"How is not allowing this preparatory time..."

Just what kind of preparation is needed?
I think he can still prepare, and I doubt that any enlistment bonus requires that he be 17 receive it. The Marine Corps will still be there when he turns 18, bonuses and all.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Just what kind of preparation is needed?
Physical. Mental. Knowledge of the Corps. And they help ensure he completes high school.

They do a little more these days to recruit than when you and I were in that situation, Tim.
I think he can still prepare, and I doubt that any enlistment bonus requires that he be 17 receive it. The Marine Corps will still be there when he turns 18, bonuses and all.
Read the article, Tim. Certainly the Corps will be there but not the bonus or choice of training.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The 17 year old wanted to join the military ever since he’d met a service rep at school at age 7. His foster parents and his social worker supported his decision to enlist early. But the judge, someone who doesn’t interact with him on a regular basis, decides what he can do. Why don’t they just make the judge the foster parent?

Not only is she against the war but she has a problem with the recruiters, feeling that they treat recruits "like another warm body". Even the bailiff got his two cents in, backing the judge. What is this? Judge Judy.

I can take bad rulings on occasion as long as the judge acts with a little professionalism.
 
Written By: tonto
URL: http://
So if he does choose to enlist at 18, is the judge going to pay him ten large? Guarantee his training choice? Do anything at all?

Of course not. This was an emotional decision, based on thinly veiled contempt for the military.

Used to be that judges encouraged young men to join the Marines. Sometimes not nicely.
 
Written By: Uncle Pinky
URL: http://
I look at it this way:

There is one young man who will never be moved leftwards thanks to an activist lefty judge who screwed him.
 
Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://

 
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