LA Daily News
This is exactly why we need conservative judges who interpret the law instead of liberal judges who legislate from the bench.Anti-war judge rejects foster teen's bid to join military
By Dana Bartholomew, Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 03/07/2008 07:16:45 AM PST
SIMI VALLEY - Shawn Sage long dreamed of joining the military, and watching "Full Metal Jacket" last year really sold him on becoming a Marine.
But last fall, a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner dashed the foster teen's hopes of early enlistment for Marine sniper duty, plus a potential $10,000 signing bonus.
In denying the Royal High School student delayed entry into the Marine Corps, Children's Court Commissioner Marilyn Mackel reportedly told Sage and a recruiter that she didn't approve of the Iraq war, didn't trust recruiters and didn't support the military.
"The judge said she didn't support the Iraq war for any reason why we're over there," said Marine recruiter Sgt. Guillermo Medrano of the Simi Valley USMC recruiting office.
"She just said all recruiters were the same - that they `all tap dance and tell me what I want to hear.' She said she didn't want him to fight in it."
Sage, 17, said he begged for Mackel's permission.
"Foster children shouldn't be denied (an) ability to enlist in the service just because they're foster kids," he said. "Foster kids shouldn't have to go to court to gain approval to serve one's country."
Mackel, a juvenile dependency commissioner at the Children's Court in Monterey Park, declined through a clerk to speak about any court case or comments she may have made in court.
Transcripts of juvenile court hearings require a special release from a judge. Court
officials said a transcript of the Sage hearing, if released, would not be available for a week or more.
After Sage submitted a winning entry to the lawmaker's Write a Bill Challenge, Assemblyman Cameron Smyth introduced legislation last month that would allow foster teens to enlist in the service without express permission from a judge.
Instead, AB2238 would allow foster children 17 or older to sign up with the consent of a foster parent or social worker.
"Here is one impressive young man who somehow made it through the challenge of the foster system, had a clear sense of a career path and was denied that opportunity by a judge basically because of her personal bias," said Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, who will honor Sage today at a Royal High assembly.
"I find that to be a horrific abuse of her power."