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Ex-U.S. attorney urges ‘teshuvah’ in justice system
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Ex-U.S. attorney urges ‘teshuvah’ in justice system

Former U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said solutions must be found to society’s problems or they may “plague us for…generations.” Photo by Robert Wiener
Former U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said solutions must be found to society’s problems or they may “plague us for…generations.” Photo by Robert Wiener

PAUL FISHMAN, the former United States attorney for New Jersey who was appointed by President Barack Obama on Oct. 14, 2009, and fired by President Donald Trump on March 10 of this year, cast aside considerations of medicine in his keynote address at the Jewish Law Symposium, “Law, Medicine, and the Pursuit of Justice.”

Noting that he went to law school, not medical school, Fishman joked about his current position as visiting distinguished fellow at Seton Hall Law School in Newark. 

He translated his job description as “the chief Jewish kibitzer at a Catholic law school….” And, he continued, “now that Jeff Sessions is the attorney general, it is really more about Old Testament vengeance than New Testament turn-the-other-cheek.”

Attacking Trump’s pardoning of Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt after racially profiling Latino immigrants, Fishman said the president’s pardoning power “should only be invoked when there is real remorse and at least an acceptance that in fact you might have done something that might in fact be wrong.” He said Arpaio “was defiant [of] the right to have cops treat people in a way that is constitutional.” 

He appealed to his largely Jewish audience that during the High Holy Days season they should consider “the role of teshuvah, of redemption, of forgiveness in the criminal justice system. We have reached the point in our society where unless we figure out how to solve many of the problems we face they will plague us for decades and maybe for generations.”

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