Monday, Sept. 11, 2006 | Imagine having the weight of a 20-ton cross thrust upon your shoulders.
Make that the infamous Mount Soledad Cross – the source of nearly two decades worth of controversy and legal wrangling – and that load may suddenly get a lot heavier.
For U.S. District Court Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz, 56, bearing that burden is as much the result of a random judicial assignment process as it is a fact of life.
Next week, Moskowitz, who has more than 20 years of experience on the federal bench, is scheduled to hear procedural arguments in at least one, and possibly two, cases contending that the presence of the religious symbol on federal government property violates the U.S. Constitution.
One cross proponent recently said he thinks Moskowitz, who is Jewish, may be swayed by the inclusion of a Jewish veterans group as the plaintiff in one of those cases.
But those who know Moskowitz, and some of those who have tried cases in his courtroom, say that the judge is an extremely thoughtful and thorough jurist – sometimes to a fault – who won’t let his or anyone else’s personal beliefs stand in the way of a fair verdict. Moreover, they say his penchant for detailed legal analysis means that any ruling he eventually hands down is likely to withstand the most severe legal scrutiny.