Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly has responded publicly for the first time to the recall campaign being mounted against him for what has been perceived to be a light sentence given to the 20-year-old rapist of a child--with Hizzoner managing to even work in his beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish into his plea to voters.
Kelly's response comes via a one-page statement filed with the Orange County Registrar of Voters, where he urges voters not to sign the petition seeking a recall election, calling it a waste of up to $2.4 million in taxpayer funds.
The judge also defends his "unassailable" integrity, notes that he received the Victim Witness Outstanding Prosecutor award and says he has "sent hundreds of violent criminals to prison."
The Gray Davis appointee writes, "I was elected by voters as judge; rated exceptionally well qualified. I graduated from Notre Dame and the University of San Diego Law School. I've been married 29 years. We've raised two sons in Orange County. We are devoted members of our church."
As for the controversial ruling that led to the recall campaign, the judge states, "I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not appease politicians. A judge who doesn't follow the Constitution today won't follow it tomorrow when your rights are at stake."
(His full statement appears on page 2.)
Bryan Scott, founder of the Recall Judge M. Marc Kelly campaign, and Patricia Wenskunas, founder and CEO of Crime Survivors Inc., released statements in reaction to Kelly's official response, via the Orange County Register. (Registrar, Register, I know, confusing!)
Scott: "It's unfortunate, but not surprising, Judge Kelly offered no apology or remorse for ignoring the well-being of the 3-year-old female victim when giving an unprecedented low sentence to her rapist. His attempt to redefine 'judicial independence' as a license for him to ignore the law and dismiss the needs of innocent children is insulting to our intelligence. His response and lack of compassion for crime victims, especially children, showcases the importance of his immediate removal from the bench. Now it is up to the voters to right his wrong."
Wenskunas: "Judge Kelly can talk about other decisions he has made throughout his career, which I find to be arrogant, but it will never make up for his horrific decision to go easy on a child sexual predator. This recall is a way to show support and protection for crime victims everywhere; past, present and future."
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Scott separately told City News Service that the effort to recall Kelly will require professionals to gather signatures and could cost between $1.50 to $5 per signature, so organizers need donations if they are to reach the 90,829 required signatures or the 150,000 goal to cover expected challenges by Kelly. Those signatures must be gathered within 160 days. Scott also pinned the blame on Kelly for using taxpayer funds for a recall ballot, saying, "He's choosing to cost us $2.4 million."