And that, kids, is justice.
Walk into court in a jail jumper, plead guilty to a lie, walk out the door and laugh.
That’s where the Leticia Astacio clown circus took us yesterday, as all of a sudden it’s not just about #drunkjudge, it’s about a system that might be as effed up as she says it is.
She is a Rochester City Court judge who, caught driving drunk one morning on the way in to do arraignments, has been in and out of jail and she has taken a simple misdemeanor and turned it into the most exasperating local story in years. She hasn’t shown up to work in months – and her misconduct has forever banned her from chambers – but she’s still drawing $174,000 a year in taxpayer-funded salary.
All while telling the most outlandish lies and pretending she is the victim.
Four separate legal teams, tag-team prosecutors, couch-side confessions to chosen reporters, self-glorifying Facebook posts, predictable division along racial lines, and the growing folklore that instead of a scofflaw she is civil rights hero.
That’s Leticia Astacio.
And though investigated and deposed by the state Judicial Conduct Commission, and overseen by supervisors who are fit to be tied, she continues on, smiling, denying, refusing, and not complying.
And yesterday it paid off for her.
She fought the law, and she won.
On the 6 o’clock news.
I’m not sure if the legal system took a knee to the groin or a baseball bat to the head.
Facing five charges related to eight flagrant violations of her probation, she was offered a deal yesterday: Plead guilty to one, and we’ll make the others go away, and sentence you to time served.
They offer deals like that because they’re not actually allowed to raise a white flag over the prosecutor’s table and surrender. It has to be hidden in legal mumbo jumbo.
So she jumped. She pled guilty to a parole violation that was a lie.
Way back when, her ankle monitor – which apparently can smell booze in her sweat – said she had a .127 blood alcohol content.
Unless you can come up with a good enough lie.
Her lie: I wasn’t drinking, your honor. I was using foot peel.
Apparently this is an aspect of the Jose Cuervo business you were unfamiliar with.
With a straight face, #drunkjudge and her lawyers-of-the-day said that she hadn’t been drinking, she had merely been rubbing alcohol-based scrub on her foot.
That was, of course, a lie. Everybody with two brain cells to rub together knew that.
And she admitted as much yesterday.
After pleading guilty to using alcohol foot scrub – banned in her probation rules – and after verbally telling the judge she had used it, she went on Facebook and posted, “I was given the choice of pleading guilty to something I’ve made it abundantly clear I’m not guilty of, or remaining in jail over the holidays.”
She pled to foot scrub, a lie she or her defense made up, and now she says she’s innocent of that.
And she goes on.
“If it we’re (sic) just me, I would’ve been in (the Livingston County Jail) with the homies, but as a mother, I couldn’t do that to my children.”
Questions: Is the jail where “the homies” live? And, these kids, when she went to Asia for a month – while on probation and without permission – what about the kids then?
“My heart is broken for every defendant that (sic) has ever been placed in that position, and that is not my idea of what justice looks like. As much as I dislike going through this, it continually reminds me of why I ran, and why I can’t give up.”
What’s the over-under, in years, before she’s elected mayor of Rochester?
Leticia Astacio, hero of the masses, campaigner for equality, fighter of oppression, voice of the voiceless, civil servant to the people.
Plus there’s that giant paycheck and a job she only partially did even before this ugliness broke out.
And yesterday she won. Yesterday everybody watching Rochester news was shown that probation means nothing, that defiance is rewarded, lies are believed and obstruction prevails.
Which means one of two things.
Either the Judicial Conduct Commission wanted the decks cleared so it could swoop in and bring justice, or the court system really is effed up.
I hope it’s the former, but I fear it’s the latter.