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Sen. Patrick Leahy Holds a Hearing on the Nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to Be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Your co-counsel, Hugh Mo, described how you threw yourself into every aspect of the investigation, the prosecution of the case. You helped to secure a conviction, sentence of 62 years to life for the murders. Your co-counsel described you, quote, as a "Skilled legal practitioner who not only ruthlessly pursued justice for victims of violent crimes, but understood the root cause of crime and how to curb it."

How did that experience -- did that experience shape your views in any way as -- both as a lawyer but also as a judge? I mean, this was getting into about as nitty-gritty as you could into the whole area of criminal law.

SOTOMAYOR: I became a lawyer in the prosecutor's office. To this day, I owe who I have become as a -- who I became as a lawyer and who have --who I have become as a judge to Mr. Morgenthal. He gave me a privilege and honor in working in his office that has shaped my life.

When I say I became a lawyer in his office, it's because in law school, law schools teach you on hypotheticals.

SOTOMAYOR: They set forth facts for you. They give you a little bit of teaching on how those facts are developed, but not a whole lot. And then they ask you to opine about legal theory and apply legal theory to the facts before you.

Well, when you work in a prosecutor's office, you understand that the law is not legal theory. It's facts. It's what witnesses say and don't say. It's how you develop your position in the record. And then it's taking those facts and making arguments based on the law as it exists.

That's what I took with me as a trial judge. It's what I take with me as an appellate judge. It is respect that each case gets decided case by case, applying the law as it exists to the facts before you.

You asked me a second question about the Tarzan murderer case, and that case brought to life for me in a way that perhaps no other case had fully done before the tragic consequences of needless deaths.

In that case, Mr. Maddicks was dubbed "the Tarzan murderer" by the press because he used acrobatic feats to gain entry into apartments. In one case, he took a rope, placed it on a pipe on top of a roof, put a paint can at the other end, and threw it into a window in a building below and broke the window. He then swung himself into the apartment and, on the other side, shot a person he found.

He did that repeatedly, and, as a result, he destroyed families. I saw a family that had been in tact, with a mother living with three of her children, some grandchildren. They all worked at various jobs. Some were going to school.

They stood as they watched one of their -- the mother stood as she watched one of her children be struck by a bullet that Mr. Maddicks fired and killed him because the bullet struck the middle of his head.

That family was destroyed. They scattered to the four winds, and only one brother remained in New York who could testify. That case taught me that prosecutors, as all participants in the justice system, must be sensitive to the price that crime imposes on our entire society.


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