Founder and editor of ConservativeOpinion.com, Jordan B. Rickards, appeared on The Advocates with host Dan Cirucci to discuss conservative principles, racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and school choice, amongst other things.
Dan Cirucci: 00:09 Hi everyone. Welcome back. This is the advocates and I’m Dan Cirucci and you are on RVNTV. Remember we’re always at RVNTV.TV and you can find me anytime @dancirucci.com. Now our guest today is an advocate. He’s an attorney so he’s got to be an advocate and he is Jordan Rickards and he has his own law firm here in New Jersey and he’s also the founder of a marvelous website, Jordan how are you?
Jordan Rickards: 00:43 Good to see you Dan, thanks for having me.
Dan Cirucci: 00:46 Good to see you. I’m so happy to have you on the program.
Jordan Rickards: 00:49 Thank you. Happy to be here.
Dan Cirucci: 00:50 This is going to be an interesting interview, Jordan, because you are an interviewer yourself. You’ve interviewed a lot of fascinating people.
Jordan Rickards: 00:58 Sure.
Dan Cirucci: 00:59 And you’re an attorney and he’s also a very, very bright person. So I’m going to have to watch my P’s and Q’s now today with Jordan over here. I love to have bright aware young people on the program. Jordan, you are a New Jersey product born and bred, correct?
Jordan Rickards: 01:20 Yes, I was born up in a, I’ve spent my whole life in North Brunswick.
Dan Cirucci: 01:24 Okay. And your law offices now are where?
Jordan Rickards: 01:27 It’s in Milltown It’s on the Milltown, East Brunswick border. So about three minutes from where I grew up.
Dan Cirucci: 01:32 So this is in Middlesex County?
Jordan Rickards: 01:35 Very blue County.
Dan Cirucci: 01:37 It’s a blue County. There you go. He’s, but we’re going to get to that. Yeah. And it’s in what we might call central Jersey.
Jordan Rickards: 01:44 It’s basically the center of New Jersey. That’s right. If you were to throw a dart right at the center of New Jersey, pretty much hit my office.
Dan Cirucci: 01:50 Okay. And one of our governors was one of our governor’s from there, Jim McGreevey.
Jordan Rickards: 01:55 He was from up in Woodbridge. In fact, he worked for the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office as a prosecutor, which is where I started.
Dan Cirucci: 02:03 Okay. Now, but that was before, way before you.
Jordan Rickards: 02:07 Right.
Dan Cirucci: 02:07 Um Jordan, he, he gives off a boyish charm, honestly, but he’s actually handled over 3000 cases in a 14 year career as an attorney.
Jordan Rickards: 02:18 That’s a conservative estimate. It’s probably been significantly more than that.
Dan Cirucci: 02:22 That’s a conservative estimate and you’ve handled a lot of criminal law cases, Jordan.
Jordan Rickards: 02:28 Oh, sure. I was a prosecutor for three and a half years and so I obviously did a lot of criminal law then and I’ve handled I think three homicides just in the last year and a half or so, two of which resulted actually in probationary sentences, believe it or not, and one which was pleaded down. But yeah, I handle a handle all kinds of cases.
Dan Cirucci: 02:46 What do you say, Jordan, to people who say, you know, how can you defend these unsavory characters?
Jordan Rickards: 02:53 Well, there’s two things. First of all, they’re not all unsavory. In the two cases which resulted in probationary sentences were regular folks with no criminal histories who I think were a little bit overcharged in the first place. They were guilty of something but not guilty of what they were charged with. And sometimes even, for example, I represented somebody who was involved in a very serious murder and he was the least involved person. Okay. It was questionable whether he should really, even though he was charged with murder, whether he was really guilty of murder or a lesser included offense, manslaughter, for example, or robbery or something like that. It’s certainly not fun to have to defend somebody who’s done a horrible thing, but even that person is entitled to be found guilty of only that which he did and not charges that exceed his conduct.
Dan Cirucci: 03:39 Uh do you feel that the criminal justice system is stacked against minorities? People of color?
Jordan Rickards: 03:49 Uh wow, that’s a big topic. I would say no on balance. But with this caveat, see there’s two halves of the criminal justice system and we didn’t talk about this ahead of time. That’s fine. There’s the arresting half. Okay. And then there’s the prosecution half. Now the, those neighborhoods that are majority minority, let’s say they’re probably policed more severely. Okay. But if you’re looking at the actual sentences that are given out, if you’re talking about who’s held to account more severely for their conduct by far and away, the lightest sentences on balance are given an areas like Newark, Camden, Trenton, all the majority minority areas where every case is put on the rocket docket. The prosecutor’s offices are totally overwhelmed. The police can’t handle all the crime there. The judges are all liberal and you have a hard time getting witness cooperation. The, the Star Ledger about 10 or 15 years ago did an expose on homicides in, in Essex County, which is where Newark and Irvington are, and they found the average homicide there got about a six year sentence and only half of them were solved. So really if you were to kill somebody you’re looking at on average, three years in prison. Okay. Not to bring race too much into this because it’s not a comfortable topic. But if you think those are the kinds of sentences that are being handed out you know, to non-minorities in nonminority counties, it’s just wrong. You know, the white person who commits a murder in Monmouth or Ocean counties looking at life in jail, up in, up in up in Newark. You know, witnesses aren’t even gonna cooperate. The police don’t have the resources to, to manage all those homicides and things like that. And so everything is reflectively downgraded. And then, you know, when you get to talk to the prosecutor, there’s lots of pleas that go even further. That’s why you have so much crime in those areas. It’s not because it’s, it’s so unfair. It’s that, you know, you can deal drugs in Newark or Camden or Trenton. Okay. And you’ll get arrested and you know, get downgraded and you get put on probation and you go out and you do what you were doing. It’s is part of the cost of doing business.
Dan Cirucci: 05:53 Very thorough and informed answer Jordan, no question about that. And now we know why folks he graduated with the high magna cum laude from Liberty University and then got a scholarship to Washington and Lee School of Law. Wonderful school. Yep. A very rigorous, I would imagine.
Jordan Rickards: 06:14 Sure, sure.
Dan Cirucci: 06:15 Washington and Lee.
Speaker 3: 06:16 Well, the average, I mean w when I went there, the average LSAT score of students who were admitted was like in the 94th percentile and then they were all A students. So when you get there, there’s no like bottom of the class that acts as a cushion to elevate everybody else. I mean, they’re all A students. And so if you want to distinguish yourself at a school like that, then you really have to go out of your way. But you know, what’s the point if you’re not going to challenge yourself.
Dan Cirucci: 06:38 So it was very competitive.
Jordan Rickards: 06:39 In a relaxed way. It wasn’t cutthroat. I mean, I’ve heard stories from people who go to other law schools about how students, if they go into the library and find the books that other people needed and they’d rip the pages out so that, you know, so people couldn’t study from them and things like that. Yeah. So it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t, it wasn’t cutthroat. You could, there was a very strong B bias. So I would say 80% of the class could get a B. But if you want to get an A, if you want to kind of escape that gravity, that orbit, you really had to commit yourself to doing it.
Dan Cirucci: 07:10 And then, eh, you’re a member of Mensa. Now, tell us what Mensa is and what it means. Because I think a lot of people have a misconception about it. They, they, I mean if you were to ask me what it is, I would say it’s a society of geniuses, but what is it?
Speaker 3: 07:27 It is a social organization for people who have scored in the 98th percentile or higher on an IQ test. And it’s not certainly something I go around telling people on a regular basis. I don’t wear like a men’s pin or anything like that, but I do put it on my business website because you know, people these days have a choice of lawyers and they’re not just looking at me and my website, they’re looking at a bunch of others and I need to be able to distinguish myself, especially with my preternatural youthful looks.
Dan Cirucci: 07:56 Yes. He’s not as young as he appears to be folks. Okay. So this is and he wants you to know that he’s, he’s experienced, he’s, they’re really experienced, he’s qualified and he’s, he handled cases in family law, criminal defense, personal injury. And you also have been a public defender in East Brunswick in South river. So you’ve been on both sides of the criminal justice system. Right? Right. And you also taught history at your Middlesex County community college?
Jordan Rickards: 08:34 That’s right. Yet it was a funny thing about that. I was just looking for something I didn’t have. I wasn’t seeing anybody at the time and I was looking for something to do with my spare time. And one day I just applied online to teach and it was like in January of whatever year and I forgot about it. And then in the summer of that same year, I got a phone call from them and asked me to come in for an interview and I’d forgotten even what I had applied to teach, I think. I thought it was like government or something. And they just hired me. They hired me for the history department because they said they have too many liberals and they wanted a conservative voice in there. So I just said, I can do that.
Dan Cirucci: 09:05 My goodness, I can’t believe it. They actually sought intellectual diversity in a college. This is an astounding story. We’ve got a really,
Jordan Rickards: 09:18 Their idea of intellectual diversity is, you know, in the history department they had ten liberals and me.
Dan Cirucci: 09:22 So ideological diversity, they should say.
Jordan Rickards: 09:25 Barely.
Dan Cirucci: 09:26 Yeah. So you were the token conservative.
Jordan Rickards: 09:29 That’s right.
Dan Cirucci: 09:31 So Jordan, didn’t you are a conservative. How did you become a conservative? That’s a good question. Here in New Jersey, which is such a liberal state, how did this guy become a conservative.
Jordan Rickards: 09:41 I can actually remember the first time I realized I was a conservative. I was about five years old and I was, I was in my mother’s bed and she had bought some movies for me to watch. I don’t know if I was sick or what if she had, you know, rented some movies and she put one in and one was the Disney version of Robin Hood, you know, where all the characters are, cartoons or whatever. Like Robin Hood’s a fox and made Marion’s a fox and there’s bears and things. I had never heard of this. And I, I was, I think a little too serious as a five year old. And I said to my mother, what is this? And she goes, well, this is Robin Hood. And I said, well, what does Robin Hood do? And she says, well, he, he robs from the rich and gives to the poor. And I thought, well, gee, I sure hope they catch that guy.
Dan Cirucci: 10:23 And you were like five years old, just didn’t seem like he was already thinking thoughts like that. He was, yeah, he was. Even then, you, you had a sense of justice and fairness.
Jordan Rickards: 10:33 I’ve always had a sense of that’s true. I’ve always had a very strong sense of justice. Whether or not I was right or wrong about it, but I remember I remember learning about communism when I was 10 or 11 from my mother and she explained to me what would happen where the government would take property and just give it to other people. And I remember thinking it was wrong for people to get light sentences for severe crimes. And I thought it was wrong that people couldn’t choose what school to send their kids to and that if you sent your kids to a private or Catholic school or something like that, that you know, the money that you paid in taxes couldn’t be applied to it. So yeah, when you’re very young, you see the world in kind of simplified terms. But I think back then I had a very low resolution idea of what conservativism was, but I knew I was attracted.
Dan Cirucci: 11:15 Okay. But then you went to Liberty University. Okay. Which is a conservative school. I mean, was it not just like an a factory for indoctrination?
Jordan Rickards: 11:24 Well, it’s a university like any other, I mean it’s whatever you make of it. If you want to go there and be indoctrinated, you have that choice. But the funny thing about me is I tended always to move away from whatever environment I was in. So when I was in that kind of ultra conservative environment, I actually became more libertarian at the time because I wasn’t satisfied with just being force fed answers without understanding why those were the right answers. And so as long as you always maintain an inquisitive mind and you always ask and you seek truth a, it doesn’t really matter. I don’t think what school you go to
the trick is to learn to think for yourself and not just to learn to do it, but how to have the courage to do it.
Dan Cirucci: 12:03 Would you describe yourself then as a liber… Libertarian as well as a conservative?
Jordan Rickards: 12:09 I was a libertarian through law school and then I became a prosecutor and realized you can’t be libertarian for very long because libertarians, there are a few problems with them, but they take the position that well, if you want to do drugs, that’s your problem. But as a, as a prosecutor, you realize that your problem becomes someone else’s headache very quickly. So I would say I’m a, I’m a pragmatic conservative with a libertarian streak in me where they’re wrong about a lot of things. I, and I like Rand Paul, but he’s totally wrong on criminal justice reform. He, his ideas are informed, um I think too much by the left. And the problem with libertarians, you see, they have a unified theory of the world, which is that the government is the cause of every problem. And so when you see prisons being overcrowded, they think, well, that’s too much government. Well, unified theories are rarely right. And they allow people, they empower people to think they can comment and they are experts on any topic especially. But most topics require a great deal of thought.
Dan Cirucci: 13:07 When somebody has an overreaching theory of everything.
Jordan Rickards: 13:11 Right. And so it allows libertarians to think they have wisdom sometimes where they don’t and to think the answers are more simple than they are and answers are rarely very simple and rarely 100% on one side of the aisle either.
Dan Cirucci: 13:24 Fascinating discussion folks and we will be right back after this break with Jordan Rickards, founder of conservative opinion and he is the Law Offices of Jordan Rickards.
Dan Cirucci: 13:41 Dan Cirucci here. Welcome back to The Advocates. We’re here with Jordan Rickards. He’s an attorney here in New Jersey and the founder of conservativeopinion.com. You want to go there and check it out? Conservative opinion.com so marvelous marvelous website. Now the word of the week is “subterfuge,” subterfuge, S U B T E R F U G E, and it means using deceit to achieve your goals. You don’t know any people who used to see to achieve their goals?
Jordan Rickards: 14:23 No, I certainly don’t know any lawyers or politicians like that. Not at all.
Dan Cirucci: 14:26 I mean they’re like there’s nobody in Washington engaging in subterfuge are there, is there?
Jordan Rickards: 14:31 No one, certainly nobody running for president who do anything like that.
Dan Cirucci: 14:34 Oh no, of course not. My goodness. No.
Jordan Rickards: 14:37 A friend of mine, Roger Daley, who was involved in politics became a judge later on. He used to say in politics, everything is always about politics and nothing is ever what it seems. It’s the art of subterfuge.
Dan Cirucci: 14:49 The art of subterfuge, you know, will they know how to make deception and art? That’s right. Well, someone said that romance is all about deception. I don’t know.
Jordan Rickards: 15:04 I think romance is about is about honesty.
Dan Cirucci: 15:07 And Oscar Wilde said the wonderful thing about marriage is it depends on the subterfuge of both parties.
Jordan Rickards: 15:20 I don’t know that I take much romantic advice from Oscar Wilde.
Dan Cirucci: 15:24 No I wouldn’t either. He had his own share of problems, didn’t he? Now, Jordan, you taught American history.
Jordan Rickards: 15:30 That’s right.
Dan Cirucci: 15:31 Now what would you say if I said to you, who is the single most compelling figure in all of American history?
Jordan Rickards: 15:43 Well, it depends what you mean by compelling. I think Nixon is an especially compelling figure. I don’t think he was our greatest figure, but it’s very compelling in that he’s, on the one hand, a very American story, right? He starts with very humble beginnings, you know, contrast that with, you know, European aristocracy and monarchy that he comes from absolute nothing, and he’s not part of the Eastern establishment. And he builds himself up and he becomes president of the United States and he can’t get out of his own way. And he is, the architect really have his own demise. And it’s, it’s a, it’s kind of a pathetic ending for somebody who, you know, had the world in the palm of his hand and just dropped it.
Dan Cirucci: 16:19 A brilliant man.
Jordan Rickards: 16:20 Yeah.
Dan Cirucci: 16:21 Very tragic story, right? It’s of Shakespearean proportions, isn’t it? Really?
Jordan Rickards: 16:26 Well, I think Gerald Ford said it best. He said, you know, anybody who has so many enemies that he has to keep a list has too many enemies. And you know, Nixon I think Nixon got hung up on that and got hung up on, on beating his enemies. If you think about what Watergate was, Watergate is a break in in a campaign where he’s gonna win overwhelmingly anyway. It’s totally unnecessary, but it wasn’t enough for him to win. He had to, he had to hurt the people who he thought was hurting him.
Dan Cirucci: 16:53 Botched 20 cent break-in. Right. Okay. That should have been easy for anybody else. I mean, the whole thing, it’s just, I think Nixon, I think you’re right in the sense that Nixon will be studied forever. There will be bookshelves of books about him. They perhaps they’re already are right? But he will be studied forever.
Jordan Rickards: 17:18 Caught up in the whole us versus them mentality, which I think a lot of people today in Washington also get caught up in.
Dan Cirucci: 17:25 Absolutely. Now, Jordan, what possessed you to start this website? Conservative opinion. And by the way, I’ve been to this site, it’s wonderful. There’s a lot of great things and Jordan himself on the site has a podcast telecast in which he interviews a lot of people. But what possessed you to start it?
Jordan Rickards: 17:44 Well, I thought I had a lot of things that needed to be said that people weren’t saying, you know, you can turn on the cable news. And we have, the funny thing is we have a great diversity of news outlets, but not a great diversity of opinion that if you turn on something like Fox news, you pretty much know what they’re going to say within the first two minutes. You turn on MSNBC, you know what they’re gonna say. And then you have the groups that just kind of parrot those people. And I thought that there was an intelligent discussion to be had and compelling people to speak to and things that needed to be said that weren’t being said. And I wanted an outlet to be able to do that. And I want to do it myself because I didn’t want some editor telling me, well, we can’t say that we can’t do that, or you have to only do it in 700 words. And so what conservativeopinion.com is and really its accompanying Facebook page as a forum where people can go and, and talk about the different issues and have their own voices expressed. What, what I enjoy about it is not so much seeing myself published, although that, you know, gives me some satisfaction. What I enjoy is that in a given month, we have about half a million interactions on our Facebook page and interactions are people who either, you know, are liking it or commenting and are sharing it. That’s the idea to stir the pot and get the discussion going. So that’s what gives me satisfaction.
Dan Cirucci: 18:55 And, and you’ve, I think would, would people will come to realize if they go to the site is that conservatism is a big tent, right? And it’s fascinating the sorts of people that are drawn to it and the reasons why they are drawn to it. You’ve had African American conservatives on there, you have gay conservative one there that you’ve interviewed. The conservative movement today is a very broad and vital movement.
Jordan Rickards: 19:25 Yeah. Actually, the gay person they had on there was a a gay, illegal immigrant Trump supporter. And a, what, what you find if you listen to people like that is that you don’t have to apologize for conservatism. There are certainly some things that you can’t be entirely doctrinaire about and you can’t you can’t be thoughtless about it and you have to realize that other people have perspectives too. And there’s probably something to what they’re saying, but you don’t have to apologize for believing that everybody should have opportunities in this world. You don’t have to apologize for believing that socialism is wrong and that it hurts the very people it purports to be able to help that. If you’re a conservative, you don’t have to say, “Oh, I’m a conservative, but I, but I don’t hate the poor.” You can say I’m a conservative because I love the poor, because I love African-Americans, because I care about gay Americans and immigrant Americans. And that’s why I don’t want to see them hurt by what the left is doing, which has failed everywhere it’s been tried.
Dan Cirucci: 20:17 It’s sort of like when president Trump said to African Americans, you’ve tried the other side and it hasn’t work, come to me. What do you have to lose?
Jordan Rickards: 20:31 That’s true. But words will just go so far and once you say it, you have to actually do something. And I actually wrote an essay that suggested president Trump should advance his own civil rights act. That’s based on, you know, school choice for one thing. School choice being a civil right, a good job being a civil right, a college education that’s affordable as a civil right, and call it the civil rights act and go into these cities and campaign for it and tell them that it’s your Congressman who you elected, this Democrat, who’s opposing your kids going to a better school because they’ve sold you out to the teachers unions.
Dan Cirucci: 21:02 Oh yes. School choice. I mean, it’s really sad. It’s really a shame.
Jordan Rickards: 21:07 The money we spend spending $40,000 a year to send some kid to some failure factory in Camden, for that much money, you can send them to the best private schools in this state and they’ll have an opportunities to succeed.
Dan Cirucci: 21:18 You know, Jordan, I’m so impressed with your breadth of knowledge and not only that, like your passion, regarding these, these issues and so forth. But what do you do for fun? Jordan.
Jordan Rickards: 21:31 This is, well, this is my idea of fun. I mean I’m seeing a nice young woman at the time right now and that’s wonderful and everything and so that takes up a lot of my free time. But even before that, I mean this is what’s fun to me. You know, politics is fun. American history is fun.
Speaker 2: 21:45 Oh, it certainly is fun and I’ve enjoyed it myself from a very early age. This has been a fascinating conversation with Jordan Rickards founder of conservative opinion, and he has his own law offices in Middlesex County. Check him out and we’re going to end with a quote here. When the advocates, as we always do, and this is a quote from the queen of pop culture herself, Oprah Winfrey, here’s what she said. And it’s good thing to remember where there is no struggle. There is no strength. This is Dan Cirucci This is The Advocates. Thanks for tuning in.