Judge Lorin Duckman, a judge who got a bum rap

Several times a week for the past three years, the New York Post has pounded on the theme of Judge Lorin Duckman, who is guilty of murder, the Post claims, because in 1996 he let a dangerous criminal out of jail who proceeded to go home and murder his girlfriend, and then to kill himself.
New York Post for September 12, 1997: "GRIEVING MOM: DUCKMAN KILLED MY GIRL"

Because of constant pressure from the New York Post, Judge Duckman was brought up on disciplinary charges and finally was removed as a judge in 1997.

But are these the real facts? Is Judge Duckman really an accomplice to murder?

Here are facts which the Post rarely mentions:

The man, Benito Oliver, who was released only to kill his live-in girlfriend, Galina Komar, did not kill her right away as has been implied. They lived together for three weeks after his release without incident. The woman was his girlfriend. They had lived together for years. Nobody knew him better than she did. She chose to live with him.

Judge Duckman lowered his bail so as to release him at a time when he had already been in jail for five months. During these five months, the woman in question had continued to live in his apartment. He paid the rent. The DA's office tried to convince her to move out and into a battered woman's shelter or back with her mother or elsewhere, but she refused to move. She insisted on continuing to live in his apartment.

The purpose of bail is to insure that the accused appears in court when required to do so. He had always appeared in court when required.

The woman refused to testify against the man. There was no evidence to hold him.

In short, Judge Lorin Duckman followed the law when releasing the man on bail. It is unfortunate that the man, once released, later killed his girlfriend and then himself. However, as a criminal court judge, Judge Duckman heard more than one hundred cases every day. These things happen. The accused would have been released eventually. There was nothing Judge Duckman could ultimately have done to prevent this murder.

The fact that the New York Post could hound a judge out of office merely because the judge did what the law required him to do, has implications for society. When a woman makes an accusation against her lover or boyfriend, experience tells us that these accusations are often not true. Yet, judges become afraid to release a man on bail, regardless of how wrongfully accused he may be, for fear of being attacked by publications like the New York Post, which is owned by British scandal-monger Rupert Murdoch. No judge ever lost his job for wrongfully convicting an innocent man, but judges often are accused in the press of being "soft on crime". Stories like this sell newspapers.

This leads to cases such as the Oliver Jovanovic case, where the judge would not allow the jury to see evidence pointing to the innocence of the accused. It leads to thousands of men serving long prison terms, who are not remotely guilty of anything.

Sam Sloan

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