It is becoming difficult to determine which is stranger -- the decisions of some magistrates concerning high-profile criminal charges, or the associated geography.
When a city firefighter from a politically connected family was arrested, after storming into a South Side home to assault an elderly resident who had objected to the drunken firefighter's unlawful use of his hose, the defendant received kid-glove treatment from magistrate Ronald Costa. That's Upper Lawrenceville-Highland Park-Stanton Heights (wards 8, 10 and 11) magistrate Ronald Costa, whose jurisdiction is about as far from the South Side Flats as one could get without departing city limits (but exceptionally handy for residents of Upper Lawrenceville and Stanton Heights, such as the defendants).
Magistrate Kevin Cooper raised severe doubts about his judgment by swallowing laughably incredible police accounts of G20-related arrests with gusto -- then,more recently, dispelled all doubts by sending a prisoner back to the county jail after failing to observe, during the court proceeding, that the inmate's face (right) had been pummmeled to a bloody pulp at the jail. The G20 injustice occurred in Oakland (ward 4), the beaten inmate had been arrested in Polish Hill (ward 6), the jail is located in ward 1 -- and Cooper's jurisdiction is wards 12 and 13.
After ferocious defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard responded to police commands to stop beating a man by hurling that man through a glass door, then continuing the assault as police officers struggled to restrain him, felony charges against the Pitt football star were dismissed by magistrate Robert Ravenstahl, who ordered the defendant to a write an apology. That's north-of-North Side (wards 26 and 27) magistrate Robert Ravenstahl, handling yet another case from the South Side Intoxication District (ward 17).
Yesterday, a magistrate dismissed a felony charge against a police officer who drunkenly smashed a pedestrian with a vehicle. The incident occurred on the South Side (the driver was departing the Intoxication District, along Carson Street), the officer is employed by Kennedy Township, the victim was from the West End, so the case was adjudicated, naturally, by magistrate Robert P. Dzvonick -- of Etna.
Who is arranging these geographically curious matches of high-profile cases and low-quality judging -- and why?