Tag Archives: Justice

The Real Problem

Several versions of the story of college students arrested buying water circulated through Facebook and the internet this week. Something about this story troubled me. Several things actually.

The primary issue stewing in the back of mind: what if they had been black men who were high school dropouts? Would they still be sitting in jail? Would the public defender have been able to obtain such a positive outcome? Would the prosecutor believe the account of seemingly innocent men purchasing water, approached by plainclothes officers in an illegal detention?

My cynical lawyer mind answers no.

The initial internal review by Virginia ABC indicates their officers did nothing wrong. Really, then why were they trying to detain citizens who purchased water? What “intelligence” or “information” led them suspect such illicit and criminal behavior? Are these officers too ignorant to know that the purchase made included water? Six officers, guns drawn for a suspected underage alcohol purchase?

In our society, we are taught to respect the police. Sometimes, their zeal to arrest even for the most minor, and arguably stupid laws, creates danger for themselves and for the public. This reliance of law enforcement creates a false sense of confidence in the word of law enforcement. In many instances this reliance is well founded. 

Some officers, however, rely on this credibility to cut corners, abuse rights because “you might beat the charge, but you can’t beat the ride.” This attitude creates criminals and criminal histories for people who behaved in a lawful manner but somehow became caught up in the net of an investigation or maybe offended law enforcement.

Should we be skeptical in the Virginia case? Clearly the prosecutor was skeptical. We should however listen carefully to everyone not just those people who look innocent from the outside. Every person is innocent until proven guilty. Not just the ones who have spotless records.


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Why not a different approach?

Just read an article on 19 year old Justin Carter. Carter is being held on a half million dollar bond for essentially making a terroristic threat over the internet. The threat, not one to be taken lightly, was purportedly made following the end of an aggressive video game playing session. This young man has been held in jail since February, 2013. He’s been the subject of beatings and abuse by other inmates.

Here’s my question: In the face of research that indicates the human brain isn’t fully formed until the age of 25 or 26, couldn’t we find some other way to deal with Mr. Carter pretrial? Perhaps some psychological evaluations and treatment. Perhaps looking at whether he fits the psychological profile of someone who would shoot up a school. Determine whether he’s a hot-headed kid who needs treatment to manage his anger or impulse control.

Could the justice system find a way to sort through the threats to society rather than locking up everyone for indeterminate periods of time?

Wouldn’t it be cheaper in the long run to help the folks who can be helped instead of paying to house them and provide medical treatment for them? The current system perpetuates a cycle for those who could be helped but cannot access treatment from incarceration.

Will a jury even find him guilty?

The system needs to change.

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Random News and Diatribes: June 17, 2011

News you may have missed or just need to see.

Ethics? Smethics? Well, Governor Nathan Deal’s appointees and office find  themselves with their toes into hot water again…the question is will anyone do ANYTHING about it. One would think in this day and age that the Governor’s office would steer clear of any investigations and not touch that with a 10 foot pole. Not our governor, no, despite of his years of experience as a lawyer and politician, his staff and friends (appointees) are behaving like there’s something to hide.

I hope that there’s nothing lurking behind the scenes, I hope that people are just making bad choices. If anyone in the governor’s office reads this, GROW UP. Stop acting like there’s something to hide. At some point, you’ll get bitten by this behavior. You will embarrass not only yourself but the entire State of Georgia.

Weiner resigns. Please stop the jokes. He’s resigned. Now, whether this resignation is a swan song or just the show’s climax before the intermission remains to be seen. (See, William Jefferson Clinton, Elliott Spitzer, et al.)

Miranda Rights, Expanded. Children, even if they’re not under arrest, are entitled to hear their Miranda rights. I’m not sure, really, what good it would do in this child’s situation when faced with 3 or 4 adults, many of whom are charged with acting in loco parentis, as parent, for the child. How many kids would challenge the school principle? Teach you kids, ask for a lawyer.

Timeless. Here’s a summary of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s interview. Somethings are timeless and transcend class: “Do I need a lawyer?” Yes, they took you off a plane, disrupted your schedule. Yes, you moron, you need a lawyer.

Sports Rioting.I just don’t understand. Why? Canadians are so restrained.

Justice, at a price? For your consideration, “can justice be bought?

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