Nasty, Brutish & Short

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Local Cases of Prosecutorial Misconduct...

June 21, 2007 08:06 AM

...are all over the paper this morning.  First up is Butler County Prosecutor's decision to prosecute the Miami students who got drunk with the girl who died on the railroad tracks:

Three of the accused women - Christine Carr, Kathleen Byrne and Kristina Sicker - have court appearances today on charges of permitting underage consumption at a private place.

Danielle Davis faces the same charge in court July 5. Maureen Grady is to appear June 28 on a charge of furnishing alcohol to an underage person while at an uptown bar.

Like Speidel, the women were themselves too young to drink legally.

How on earth do any of these woman share any more responsibility for this tragedy than the girl who died?

And second up is the Hamilton County Prosecutor's horrific decision to prosecute 16 year-old Chad Metzgar.  He's the kid from Northwest High School who was driving when Lauren Dietz and Miranda Phelps were killed last week.  That community is appalled by Joe Deters' decision:

"Nobody wants to lose anybody anymore in any type of manner," said Jeanne Glore, a close friend of the Dietz family.

Glore called on the community to continue to come together each Wednesday to grieve and bond. The gatherings will also be a sign of solidarity for Metzcar.

Joe Deters wants to have Metzgar tried as an adult, which means if he is convicted, he will be serving hard time in a state prison with the worse of the worst.  He faces 13 1/2 years.  I heard Joe Deters speak about this issue yesterday, and his explanation was basically that they have brought similar charges in similar cases.  What kind of excuse is that?  Where's the introspection about whether the charges in those cases were excessive, too?

One of the fundamental principles of criminal law is that the punishment is supposed to match the mens rea (mental state) of the offending party.  For centuries, criminal law has recognized that accidents happen.  But in Hamilton County, prosecutors have made it a policy to always seek jail time whenever there is a fatal car accident.  This means all of us are always one wrong turn away from a lengthy jail sentence.

It used to be that prosecutors would excercise discretion, and not bring charges when there was an accident.  When I heard Joe Deters speak yesterday, the principle of prosecutorial discretion seemed lost on him.  It's a shame. 

Comments

Wasn't the kid going 70mph in a 35mph zone? I do think 13 1/2 years is a little excessive, but he does need some type of punishment.

Engllish teacher   ·  June 21, 2007 08:56 AM

His punishment is living the rest of his life knowing he killed his friends. Also, some time in juvenile hall, and of course, no more driving for him.

Teenagers just don't know the dangers of what they do. There is something in their make-up that prevents them from processing things properly. Also, his passengers were probably just as into his speeding has he was. Like him, they just didn't understand the consequences of what they were doing.

Without the intention to cause harm, I don't think a teenager should be tried as an adult. The ones who are violent, or steal, or do things that require an intention of wrongdoing, deserve to be tried as adults. Not kids who do things that are really, really stupid.

Nasty, Brutish & Short   ·  June 21, 2007 11:42 AM

Laura Bush killed a classmate in a car accident when she was in high school and she didn't go to jail for it. She should for her husband's war crimes, though.

Anonymous   ·  June 21, 2007 12:47 PM

Anonymous, are you baiting me?

Nasty, Brutish & Short   ·  June 21, 2007 05:45 PM

This reflects a dangerous dichotomy existing in American society today. On the one hand our children are wrapped in styrofoam and protected from every minor injury, hurt feeling, or threat self-esteem; on the other hand there is no opportunity to learn from nor redemption available for a single stupid accident. The consequences of this boy's actions will haunt him for the rest of his life; there is no need for prosecutorial pile-on.

AKL   ·  June 21, 2007 07:56 PM

Over 70 mph in 35 mph zone-strike 1. No seat belts-strike 2. More than 1 passenger-strike 3. Clearly this young person should suffer consequences. 2 PEOPLE are DEAD!!!!! NEVER COMING BACK!!!! Bleeding hearts? How about some tears for them and their families? Certainly, let's not stoop to blaming the victims here saying they were into speeding. Good Lord, they can't even speak for themselves, are you really that heartless? Maybe 13 years is a little too long, I don't know, I don't have a dead child.

anonymous   ·  June 22, 2007 09:05 PM

We had a similar situation here in Toledo but the 17 year old, now 18 year old was not tried as an adult and not only was he not given any prison time but he'll be able to drive again in three years.

Last week on Glass City Jungle we discussed this and another murder trial where a 15 year old on drugs ends up shooting a police detective and killing him. He's being tried as an adult.

One of my daughter's best friends was killed by an adult man high on drugs as she was walking home from our local icecream shop. She would have graduated with my daughter this past year. The man who killed her was given 18 months in prison and was released early. He's driving again...

I firmly believe if you take a life while driving in a car and you have broken the law such as speeding, running a stop sign, something that makes you negligent you should never be able to drive again and you should get jail time. We also need to do a much more consistent job in determining trying minors as adults. The thread on Glass City Jungle ended up being over 70 comments, it's obvious not everyone agrees with me but I think my perspective changed after Jessica was killed and whether she was killed by a car or by a gun...She's just as dead and someone was responsible for that death.

Lisa Renee   ·  June 27, 2007 12:29 AM

Lisa Renee,
It is an interesting contrast to see how the justice system works so differently in Northern Ohio than in does in Southern Ohio. Here is is always tough justice, and usually I think that's great.

Nasty, Brutish and Short   ·  June 27, 2007 07:24 AM

Prosecutorial misconduct has been and continues to be a palpable problem in this country. To correct it, defense attorneys must acquire the wherewithal to file prosecutorial misconduct motions whenever warranted. Most defense attorneys are reticent to file these motions, because they are lazy, do not know the law, or believe that doing so is politically incorrect. However, after repeatedly fielding such motions, hopefully our judiciary, most of whom were prosecutors, will wake-up and realize that prosecutorial misconduct brings our criminal justice system further into disrepute because it is unlawful, offensive, insulting, ignorant, and increases the risk of convicting innocent defendants.

Kevin Jay Long, 773-545-2615, MEDICOLEGAL1@JUNO.COM

KEVIN JAY LONG   ·  July 8, 2007 02:18 AM