By Sanne Specht
AJackson County Circuit Court judge has been sanctioned by the Oregon Supreme Court over comments he made at the sentencing of a Medford man who is a convicted serial pedophile.
On Jan. 21, 2012, Judge Tim Barnack sentenced Richard Lee Taylor to 21 life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Barnack called Taylor, 60, who had previous convictions in Oregon and California for sexually abusing children, a “piece of s—-.”
“You are a bad person,” Barnack said at the sentencing. “You will rot in prison.”
Barnack, a former Jackson County prosecutor, continued to excoriate Taylor during the sentencing, telling him he didn’t belong outside a prison cell, and community members would wonder why he wasn’t hanging from a tree.
Taylor will spend the rest of his life in a cell where he can think about the harm he has done the victims, Barnack said, while repeatedly asking Taylor whether he wanted to save his soul.
Taylor showed no remorse, stating he had “nothing to say.”
“I don’t think you have a soul,” said Barnack, at the sentencing. “We are going to make sure you never get out.”
The Supreme Court ruled that Barnack’s comments and behavior violated the Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires a judge to “observe high standards of conduct so that integrity, impartiality and independence of the judiciary are preserved.”
It also states “a judge shall not engage in conduct that reflects adversely on the judge’s character, competence, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge.”
Barnack said Friday that he regretted his comments and accepted the court’s censure, which carries no fines, fees or limits on his duties as a judge.
“I’ve learned from this experience. And I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Jackson County,” Barnack said.
The court’s ruling states Barnack acknowledges he lost control of his emotions when Taylor declined to speak at the sentencing, and that he was traumatized from viewing videos of the abuse. He acknowledges his comments were inappropriate, it says.
“After sentencing, Judge Barnack sent an email to the other Jackson County Judges apologizing for his remarks at the sentencing of Taylor,” the three-page document said.
Barnack sought counsel from other, more experienced judges regarding how to best manage emotionally charged courtroom situations. And he has adopted procedures that include creating prepared scripts so that “such behavior is not repeated.”
In October 2011, Taylor was found guilty of five counts each of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, first-degree sexual abuse and second-degree sodomy; and three counts each of first- and second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse. He was sentenced to life on each of the 21 counts.
Taylor previously served a short prison term after pleading guilty to lesser charges in the same case, but Barnack said significant new evidence made it possible to reopen the case.
Taylor also had a past conviction for sexual abuse in California, prosecutors said in asking for a life sentence.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.