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Why I decided to run for the Judicial seat, By Burke E. Strunsky
I once overheard a judge say that she must make “weight of the world decisions with a thimble worth of information.” I found it an apt statement. A judge has no higher calling than to honorably serve his fellow citizens and community, and as such, he or she must possess a high degree of legal acumen. But there is more to being a judge than this. Certain intangible human qualities such as integrity, compassion, open- and fair-mindedness, patience, and good temperament are of equally high importance.
My entire professional life has been dedicated to public service, specifically as a criminal prosecutor litigating complex matters, developing relationships with opposing attorneys, and framing legal issues with veracity and clarity. These experiences, in and out of the courtroom, have helped to sculpt and refine my knowledge of the law, and have instilled in me a deep understanding of the American justice system itself.
My wife Géraldine and I decided to launch a nonprofit organization called The Humanity of Justice (HOJ) Foundation with the sole purpose of helping neglected and abused children. Since I have spent the majority of my career prosecuting crimes against children, this seemed a natural extension of my work. Thanks to the HOJ Foundation, I have been working with fellow public safety advocates to help integrate child protection programs and spread the urgent message that stopping child abuse is key to breaking the cycle of violence that permeates our communities. While there are a number of factors behind why someone acts out violently, the child’s at-risk home environment is the least discussed, but in my opinion, the most important. Studies show that the violent spirit is often nourished at a young age. Early intervention is critical. I believe that protecting children from violence is a highly worthy mission—one that saves not only the child but also the rest of society.
My job as a criminal prosecutor has brought me face-to-face with the worst of our society, the grimmest side of human nature. Yet, even in the midst of the darkest stories one can imagine, I have been inspired by the strength and courage of the victims and those who love them. Their resilience has sustained my own moral compass while I construct the subtext of persuasive legal and factual arguments unique to each case. I consider it my duty to, not only hold those who break our laws responsible for their actions, but to make sure that the innocent are protected, remembered, and exonerated.
Personally, I have learned through bitter tears that it is not only the actual law that determines justice but those who interpret and apply the law as well. I revere our laws and the necessary role they play in making our lives safer. If appointed judge, I pledge to work even harder to instill confidence in the community that justice can, indeed, be found. I want my fellow citizens to have faith that they can amicably and fairly settle disputes in the courtroom and walk away knowing: the human-wide desire for goodness and mercy, respect and loyalty, courage and trust, is a shared energy that keeps moving us forward—toward justice and a better world.
Public servants, especially attorneys and judges, inherently become role models to the citizens they serve.
The law is never stagnant. It is constantly evolving according to the norms, values, and culture of the society that created it, and that continues to guide and define it. Law is deeply intertwined with social change, and, as US Supreme Court Judge Felix Frankfurter once said, law is a “vital agency for human betterment.” That is why I have dedicated my life to serving and protecting our free, democratic society governed by the rule of law. As we trace the historical underpinnings of the United States and its laws, it becomes apparent how all of our society’s virtues, flaws, idiosyncrasies, and moral debates are embodied in the legal system we have created. I view our system of justice as both a forum and reflection of the American personality. It is expressed so profoundly, yet simply, in those first three words of the Constitution, “We the People.”
My experience in the courtroom has taught me that individual liberties, while paramount, must also be carefully weighed against another equally important civil liberty: the right to live in safe communities. The best judges understand the importance of this duality, and operate according to our system of checks and balances—a system that no one is above—including the government. In the end, a well-rounded judge plays a critical role in determining and delivering justice for the people.
I thrive on the analytical nature of my work, and over the years, I have found tremendous satisfaction in finding best resolutions to complex issues through rigorous and wise application of the law. I am ever mindful, however, that the rules of law are never simply theories in a vacuum. Rather, their purpose is to arrive at commonsense, workable solutions to real-world problems that affect the lives of real people.
A judge is the standard-bearer of the law and of justice. I understand that becoming a judge is more than a job. It is a calling and an honor bestowed by the public’s trust. A Judge must be a person who knows when to give second, third, or even forth chances to those who need it, but who will throw away the keys for those that righteously deserve it. That’s who I am and this is why I would be honored to serve our community on the judicial bench!