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Potential law clerks may opt out to...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Potential law clerks may opt out to avoid contact with racism

I am writing in response to Brian W. Jones' Nov. 29 Perspective article "Record complex on court's hires" regarding the hiring practices of the Supreme Court for its law clerk positions.

While correctly noting the shortage of minority applicants for Supreme Court clerkships, Mr. Jones wrongly blames the "race-tinged vitriol" of liberal civil rights activists for the shortage. These liberal activists, according to Mr. Jones, have forced black law students to choose between applying for a clerkship with a conservative judge on the Supreme Court and losing their racial identity.

As a recent law school graduate who is presently serving as a law clerk for an African-American judge in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, I disagree.

Mr. Jones' contention that African-American law students are forced to avoid applying for jobs with conservative judges to maintain their racial identity is pure fantasy. Generally, minority law students do not apply for Supreme Court clerkships because they are uninterested in working for judges who hold legal and philosophical views that are diametrically opposed, and often detrimental, to their own.

Tired of jumping through the hoops of the majority culture, minority law students consciously decide to allow these clerkship opportunities to go to others. This reluctance to apply for these clerkships is a direct result of enduring the draining experience of living with racism on a daily basis.

Mr. Jones' attempt to blame mainstream African-American leaders for the small pool of potential minority clerks is a weak attempt to avoid dealing with the core issue of the historical racism that all too often has left even the best and brightest of the minority talent pool unwilling to seek such opportunities.

However, Mr. Jones is correct that the fault does not lie at the feet of the justices. Instead, the blame lies with a society that has tolerated racism for far too long.

Mr. Jones fails to hold the majority culture responsible for its racism. He takes the easy route and demands that African-American leaders stop limiting the talented young people of color who suffer from a confining racial identity.

I would ask Mr. Jones to wake from his fantasy and ask the tough question: When will the majority culture embrace people of color, create a truly unified culture and appreciate and value the talents and perspectives of people of color?

When that day arrives, I guarantee that the minority applicant pool for clerkships will increase because students will not feel hostility toward their entrance in such prestigious places.

Michael Finley

Baltimore

Racing must find way to fund upgraded facilities

I am writing to comment on The Sun's Nov. 23 editorial "Partnership needed to aid horse racing." While I do not in principle disagree with any of your points, I do feel your some of your suggestions and conclusions are too narrowly focused.

With the advent of full-card simulcasting, the racing business is fast-becoming more regional and national. Racing must address this fact.

Second, racing must compete for discretionary consumer spending and, therefore, must be able to attract and keep repeat consumers. To accomplish this the industry must offer enhanced facilities both at tracks and at OTBs. Increasing purses through state subsidies may assist in competing for horses, but without a source of substantial funds to upgrade the facilities and "total entertainment product," this solution is neither long-term nor efficient. Gaming machines, as they have already done in Delaware and West Virginia, supply this funding.

Lastly, lest we not forget, considering Maryland's present lottery/keno enterprises, Maryland is racing's partner, regulator and competitor.

Fred Metschulat

Baltimore

Sun continues to mask 'Israel-bashing' as news

The Sun's obsession with Israel-bashing has gone too far. Rather than applaud the Israeli government for its critical self-assessment and efforts to educate and improve its society, Sun staffers Ann LoLordo and Jessica Lazar find in this unusual campaign an opportunity to highlight what they clearly perceive to be Israeli society's deficiencies on numerous fronts ("Behave yourselves! posters tell Israelis, Nov. 29).

The authors neglected to mention that the biting comments of one of their sources, Alouph Hareven, may stem from his bias against Israel's government. Mr. Hareven is co-director of Sikkuy, an organization dedicated to enhancing the civic equality of Arab citizens in Israel. By choosing to include his harsh and uneven comments, the article unfortunately deteriorated into an attack on Israeli politics.

We are all entitled to our opinions; however, this piece would have been more appropriate had it been placed in the Perspective section of your newspaper, and not in the center of the front page.

Erika Pardes

Baltimore

A good thing happened -- and the media ignored it

On Nov. 21, I saw what's right in the city of Baltimore.

I attended a graduation and reception for the women of Caroline Center on Somerset Street. Caroline Center is a training program for women without marketable skills who want to become productive citizens. It was started in 1996 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame and Nov. 21 was the first graduation ceremony.

Thirteen women received their High School Equivalency diplomas and one received an External High School diploma. Forty-eight women received certificates for one of the following: child care providers, clerical/computer proficiency, geriatric nursing, job readiness or professional painting.

But where were the media? I'm sure many people would love to see evidence of what's right in our city. More media coverage could lead to more Caroline Centers and less welfare.

Mary Earle Gugerty

Rodgers Forge

Commercial fishermen being regulated to death

A Nov. 24 editorial ("Hook, line and trawler") gave the false impression that U.S. commercial fishermen are subsidized. Instead, they are being regulated to extinction.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports U.S. commercial fishermen declined from 59,000 in 1992 to 47,000 in 1996. That's only 47,000 to catch the fish for the entire country. From 15 million to 17 million recreational anglers believe that there are too many commercial fishermen.

In politics, numbers are everything. People who eat fish don't come to fishing management hearings; eco-fascists and recreational interests do. For example, there are only two commercial shad fishermen in Ocean City, yet commercial shad fishing is being outlawed to please fish watchers and recreational anglers who don't care whether you eat seafood or not.

Beverly R. Lynch

Newark

Reasons for opposing death penalty abound

The increasing number of people opposed to the death penalty means it is difficult to get a really intelligent jury in a first-degree murder case. Were life imprisonment imposed instead of the death penalty, the problem would probably not exist. The inevitable result is that criminals guilty of murder and deserving punishment are sometimes freed by jurors who subconsciously rebel against capital punishment, especially if the defendant has an able lawyer who can play on their feelings.

The death penalty carries an undercurrent of sadism. Many people revel in the thought of an execution. During the past century and early in ours, crowds sometimes gathered around scaffolds to witness hangings. Today, curious people collect outside prisons where executions are to take place. Although jTC they cannot hope to be spectators, they derive a vicarious thrill from merely standing near the scene.

The death penalty cannot be made fair, cannot be applied impartially and is capricious. It cannot even be said that it is reserved as a weapon of retributive justice for the most atrocious criminals for it is not necessarily the most guilty who suffer it. Almost any criminal with wealth or influence can escape it, but the poor and friendless convict is the one singled out.

Even though the rights of defendants are fairly well safeguarded today, the possibility of error still exists. Miscarriages of justice may result from mistaken identification, frame-ups and other causes. If a guiltless prisoner is alive, the error can be rectified, and at least he or she can be compensated to a degree. But since the death penalty is irreparable, its use is unfair if there is an atom of possibility that mistakes may be made.

Gerald Ben Shargel

Reisterstown

Pub Date: 12/03/98

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