A post in which I open a giant can of worms and let them crawl all over the place because I have no answers, but just think these issues are important and should be examined.
I got most of these articles from a friend I didn’t [remember] used google buzz, and was almost sad I’d clicked over, because they’re so tragic, really, but also amazing. I’m wondering why they didn’t get more press and attention. This friend was a public defender for Colorado – just to give you an idea of the background.
First, is an article about Judy Clarke. Most people probably don’t know who she is, but I imagine everyone knows about her current client – Jared Lee Loughner. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the guy responsible for the shootings in Tuscon, Arizona. Do I think what JLL did was wrong? Most definitely. Do I think he should be punished? Of course. Do I think he should die for it… well honestly, I don’t know. That’s not the point – the point is, I believe in the system, and that he should get fair representation. I haven’t been following it closely, but I imagine his best bet would be a bench trial.
What I’m trying to say here is, this is food for thought. We rarely think about the system from the perspective of the defendant. And it’s tough being a public defender. In many cases, it’s a losing battle, whether or not the client committed the crime or deserves such a harsh charge.
Here are two more sympathetic examples. This first one made me cry.
Why does something like this only have 325,211 views? Especially considering how many years it’s been around? And a quick click to the youtube home page shows a video of a rabbit passing gas has 2,732,145 views. This makes me sad. I found the video in the article here – and yes, there have been some changes. She’s 33 years old. On his last day as governor, Schwarzenegger commuted Kruzan’s sentence to 25 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole. I’m glad for the … lesser sentence? But it still makes my head and my heart hurt.
Something else more people have been talking about recently that has been discussed widely here (it’s local enough) is… a woman who was sentenced to ten years for sending her children to a school district where they weren’t residents. I would like to point out that it was two sentences to be served concurrently, so five years but… I really do think they (the judge) threw the book at her. Williams-Bolar’s attorney asked the judge for community control, and the prosecutor “wasn’t opposed to it.” Williams-Bolar is in college trying to become a teacher. Because of this felony conviction she won’t be able to get a teaching license in the state.
I wonder if this issue will be appealed. I believe that Williams-Bolar had already taken her children out of the Copley school system prior to this case… but the last paragraph of the article gets me. A $100 reward for outing wrongfully enrolled students. I just… I don’t know.
And here’s yet another reason it’s important to step back and allow for trial and evidence, and a proper defense. Sometimes – especially when a heinous crime is committed- we’re all too eager to find the culprit. Someone responsible, and to punish them. This is rather a story of too little too late. The title of the article really says it all: Innocent Man Is Pardoned 72 Years After His Execution. Does this show a new trend or change? At least in Colorado? This is also relevant in light of the “retard” articles and discussions. And may I submit “lame” to the same group?
Back to the child issue. There’s this quote that just kills me, from this article:
… more than 2,400 youth offenders in the U.S. serving sentences of life without parole, 60 percent of them African American and the majority first-time offenders. Twenty-six percent were sentenced under felony murder laws that punish children who were party to a crime like robbery where; in Florida, one child whose friend broke a window with a rock is being held responsible for the fact the homeowner responded by shooting and killing him.
Many of you know I have a “part time job” as a Street Law Jr. instructor and… it just… I worry about my kids. 🙁
What are your thoughts? Had you heard of any of these cases? Know of any others? What are your pet projects? Does this change your idea or view of our justice system? I know I leave a lot out/don’t explain much… (incidentally, don’t expect that to change).
Does this even matter?
As this is all sad… I’m going with a quote from Perske (the man who made pardoning Arridy – the man from Colorado- his mission):
If you face a tough situation and give up too quickly, you may miss out on a fantastic conclusion.
So personally, I say yes. It matters. It matters that it happens. It matters in that we should care. And try to do something about it. This is why the news, and being aware of world affairs matters. Yes?