A judge who says he's quitting because of attacks by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and allies was hit with one last parting shot Thursday by Hatch, who essentially called him a liar.
Hatch said 3rd District Court of Appeals Judge H. Lee Sarokin was falsely trying to make himself a political martyr and had long planned to leave office anyway - not because of politics, but because he wants to move from New Jersey to California.Sarokin - whom Hatch has attacked for months as an example of what he says are soft-on-crime judges appointed by Clinton - resigned this week complaining in a letter to Clinton that politicians such as Hatch are trying to "Willie Hortonize" him.
Horton - who was featured in ads by George Bush supporters in 1988 to attack his opponent, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, as being soft on crime - committed murder and rape while on a furlough from prison.
Sarokin also said in his letter, "I regret that there are those who are willing to sacrifice my life's work and reputation for their own political gain."
That prompted Hatch to cry foul in a Senate speech.
He said even though Sarokin has been an appeals judge for only 22 months, he has tried since March to take senior status, or quasi-retirement, which would reduce his caseload to 25 percent of that of an active judge. But he didn't mention that in his resignation letter.
Sarokin - who wanted to move to California to be near his family - also asked other 3rd Circuit judges to allow him to move his chambers from New Jersey to California, which Hatch said they unanimously rejected on April 22.
"Judge Sarokin's letter - its assertions as well as its omissions - demonstrates how some view federal judges as philosopher kings whose decision and prevarications should never be challenged. I do not hold this view," Hatch said.
Hatch has long attacked Sarokin for what he says is legislating from the bench.
"The choice this fall will be between judges who are tough on crime and judges who are softer on crime; judges who will apply the law and not legislate from the bench, and judges like Lee Sarokin," Hatch said.