Robert L. Templin
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Judge's Name: Robert L. Templin
Work Address: Oakland County Circuit Court
City: Pontiac
State: Michigan
Jurisdiction: Circuit Court, County of Oakland
Case Number: 92-121934
Type of Case: Criminal, Child Sexual Abuse
Documentation: Complete trial transcript, September, 1993
Comments:  A biased judge can powerfully influence the outcome of a trial and affect the course of justice.  A results-oriented judge can pretty well assure that a trial produces the result the judge wants.  The New Jersey appellate court which first reversed the conviction of Kelly Michaels commented on the judge's biased behavior in that trial.  "The judge, in the televised-view of the jury, played ball with the children, held them on his lap and knee at times, whispered in their ears and had them do the same, and encouraged and complimented them. ...  The judge also unduly interfered with defense counsels' cross-examination of the children and often took charge of the questioning. which in many instances was overly suggestive.  For all appearances, the State's witnesses became the judge's witnesses.  The atmosphere became such, after this manner of presentation of testimony from 19 children, that a jury considering a verdict in favor of the defendant might feel that it was personally offending the judge.  The required atmosphere of the bench's impartiality was lost in this trial."  This Michigan case illustrates a scientific method of reviewing a court transcript to ascertain the level and direction of the bias revealed by the judge's behavior.  This method has been developed by the staff at IPT.  The assumption is that the attorneys are legally of roughly equal competence.  This is the assumption the Supreme Court has made in ruling on adequacy of representation.  A statistical analysis is used determine the deviation from expected frequencies of the relevant behavior.  It requires the tabulation of all objections in a trial, the source of the objection, and the judge's rulings on the objections.  The tabulated results are then subjected to a test of the statistical significance and the direction of the deviation from expected values.  It produces the same kind of information which the courts have used in the reasoning to determine cases like Brown v. Board of Education and many cases involving allegations of discrimination.  It is also used in examining bias in jury pools and potential police bias in racial profiling.

    Objections raised by the prosecution and the defense were tabulated into a 2 x 2 table where the four cells were prosecution objections sustained and overruled and defense objections sustained and overruled.  The raw count showed an overwhelming number of prosecution objections were sustained and very few defense objections while defense objections were overruled.  These results were submitted to a Chi-square statistical analysis.  The Chi-square makes it possible to determine whether an observed frequency is within or departs from theoretical or empirical expectations.  The Chi-square compares the frequency of occurrence actually observed with the frequency expected by chance.

X2 = 172, p < .001

    The probability of < .001 is that assigned by the tables for a Chi-square of 10.83 which is the lowest probability contained in the statistical tables.  The Chi-square in this case was 172.  This is an outcome that cannot be a chance result.  Unless other factors can be found to account for it, the results of the analysis suggest an extreme bias by the trial judge in favor of the state.  In addition to this analysis the trial transcript shows that the judge was hostile to the defense attorneys and frequently threatened them with sanctions and contempt citations as well as being highly critical of them in the presence of the jury.  He often criticized them and their questions, their knowledge of the law, and their demeanor.

    Mr. Kaplan was convicted and has been in prison since then.  He still stoutly maintains his innocence but he has exhausted all possible levels of appeals.  The trial transcript also shows the same factors that have been found by many appellate courts to be a basis for overturning convictions: repeated leading and suggestive interrogation by the authorities of young, suggestive children, development of allegations across time during the process of interrogation, and highly implausible alleged behaviors.

Type of Error:  The level and direction of bias in this case is such as to show a high likelihood that the judge influenced the outcome and may be responsible for the conviction of Mr. Kaplan.

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