Are those God goggles?
It's interesting that the legally inclined don't see anything so much to complain about in this sentencing report; they seem somehow blind to the implicit prejudice in the statement, and concentrate on the bald fact of whether the sentence was in fact more lenient, and if discrimination can be proved. This is how Jiffy @ RD.NET has approached the matter; Jack of Kent will be blogging about this next week on www.lawyer.com , I think, but he's made his contempt for the complaint pretty clear, along with fellow legal eagle Lucifee here. And there's another legal blogger here who concurs with them.
I think this may be because they don't see the two causes for concern:
- That the sentence is lenient because the man was religious, discriminating against the irreligious.
- That the judge has said she accepts the defendant's religiosity as a mitigating factor when sentencing. (This will apparently reflect the defence counsel's mitigation, but this context is unknown to all of us at the moment, so we cannot be sure what the judge means here. It may be something as uncontroversial as organising tombolas at the local mosque, or it may be 18 hours a day of praying to God; we just don't know yet.)
They have argued persuasively that there are no grounds for complaint under point 1 -that there is no evidence for discrimination - but have been less forthcoming on point 2. I think Jiffy has conceded there may be an issue here now ("As I have said it was a poor choice of words") but still makes comments like:
Just because one aspect is emphasised as a positive does not logically mean the opposite view is a negative.
...which I think recognises that all sorts of activities are accepted as mitigating, but begs the question of the context again, of which we are all ignorant. A keen Klu Klux Klanner wouldn't be allowed mitigation at a lynching trial, of course, however many get-togethers he'd organised. This is what Terry Anderson is quoted as saying:
We are concerned that Mrs Blair’s remarks indicate that she might have applied a different sentence if the defendant had not been a religious person.
I don't know what the *actual* complaint was, but this statement is clearly valid; by any *normal* interpretation, her remarks indicated that she might have given preferential treatment for the religious, so there's a case to answer. This much is obvious to me, in the absence of clarification. Until then, the complaint cannot be dismissed out of hand.
The clarification will show either that, yes, Judge Booth has been discriminatory or, more likely, her choice of words were unfortunate and inadvisable.
UPDATE: Jack of Kent has now blogged, with some new information; religion wasn't even brought up in mitigation. Stranger and stranger; these comments will need to be clarified by CB, IMO.