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Okla. County Judge candidate Rand Eddy: courts need “more humanity”

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Okla. County Judge candidate Rand Eddy: courts need “more humanity”
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Oklahoma City Attorney Rand Eddy isn’t a member of a marginalized group. Yet, he’s seen firsthand the traumatic effects police brutality enacts on his clients and the community he seeks to serve as Oklahoma County Judge.

“I think it’s gotten worse,” Eddy told The Black Wall Street Times in a zoom interview as he recounted representing the family of Stavian Rodriguez, a 15-year-old kid who dropped his gun before OKCPD officers shot him to death on November 23, 2020. 

Eddy felt a sense of relief when the five officers involved in the shooting were charged with manslaughter

Yet, as other cases of brutality continued soon after, and with no set trial date for the five officers who killed Rodriguez, Eddy said he feels a desire to do more for the underprivileged.

As an attorney known for representing the families of police brutality victims, Rand Eddy looks to bring a rehabilitative approach to an elected position that’s often overlooked, yet crucial to criminal justice reform— Oklahoma County Judge.

“I would take every case on its own merits. But I feel I’d bring a little more humanity” to the position, Oklahoma County Judge candidate Rand Eddy told The Black Wall Street Times.

Running for Oklahoma County Judge

With a career practicing law for more than 35 years, Eddy started as a public defender before moving to private practice. He’s represented workers in employment law, and as a criminal defense attorney, he’s sued law enforcement and other government agencies for violating civil rights.

“I’ve always kind of viewed my law practice as a form of public service,” Eddy said.

Perhaps most notably, he’s represented the family of Stavian Rodriguez, as their family continues to wait for a trial date for the five OKCPD officers charged with his death.

“That case has been a heartbreak. To lose him at that age in the manner at which it happened has been absolutely devastating,” Eddy said.

Just days after that shooting on November 23, 2022, OKCPD shot and killed Bennie Edwards, a 60-year-old Black man who was experiencing a mental health crisis while running away from the officer. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater ultimately charged OKCPD Sgt. Cliff Holman with manslaughter, another rare case of an Oklahoma police officer facing criminal penalties for excessive force.

Police Brutality, Jail deaths, and alternative sentencing

The two cases reflect Oklahoma City’s morbid status of having one of the most deadly police departments in the nation, according to data from Mapping Police Violence.

“Clearly, the community is very concerned about the way OKCPD performs,” Rand Eddy said.

“There isn’t much more I am allowed to say about that as a judicial candidate. But I can point to the fact that I am currently litigating three cases on behalf of three different people who were wrongfully shot by OKCPD officer. That’s what I’ve been doing for a long time. I understand why people–especially marginalized people–feel the way they do.”

For his part, Oklahoma County Judge candidate Rand Eddy wants to bring a perspective to the bench that recognizes the lived experience of Oklahoma County’s most marginalized residents.

“I see justice from that side of the fence. I feel that we’ve got a high level of incarceration rates here in the state and in the county. Some of the highest in the country,” Eddy said.

To be sure, even after hundreds of commutations in 2019, Oklahoma continues to maintain one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, though it’s no longer number one in the world, according to a 2020 report from Oklahoma Policy Institute analyst Damion Shade.

As Oklahoma County Judge, Rand Eddy says he’d focus more on alternative sentencing options for nonviolent offenders, especially as pre-trial detainees continue to die in record numbers at the notorious Oklahoma County jail. Six people have already died there in 2022 alone, the Oklahoman reported at the end of March.

Considering the risk for detainees who haven’t been found guilty and who weren’t facing the death penalty, Rand Eddy said “it’s extremely important” to utilize alternative sentencing options.

“Safety of the public” front and center in candidate Rand Eddy’s mind

Nevertheless, he made clear that he understands his role is simply to judge based on the merits of each case and said he takes the safety of Oklahoma County residents seriously. 

 “I’ve seen the worst of it, and I can tell when society needs to be protected from an individual. I’ve got experience from end to end. As a judge, to see justice done, I’d absolutely take into consideration the safety of the public. Something kept close to heart and in my mind at all times,” Eddy told The Black Wall Street Times.

Ultimately, Eddy said some of the biggest differences he’d bring to the bench might seem like some of the smallest details.

“I’m gonna treat people with respect. When you go to court it’s crucial what type of judge you have. No one will be abused or demeaned in my courtroom. I will judge all cases fairly in an efficient manner.”

Voters will go to the polls to select the next Oklahoma County Judge on Tuesday, June 28.

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