Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

Left Bloggers
Blog critics

Gryffindor House
Roger Ailes
Angry Bear
Biscuit Report
Body and Soul
Daily Kos
Kevin Drum
Glenn Greenwald
Group Think Central
Inappropriate Response
Mark Kleiman
Lean Left
Nathan Newman
Off the Kuff
Prometheus Speaks
Rittenhouse Review
Max Sawicky
Scoobie Davis
Seeing the Forest
Sully Watch
Talking Dog
Talking Points
TPM Cafe
Through the Looking Glass
Washington Monthly
WTF Is It Now?
Matt Yglesias

Slytherin House
Indepundit/Lt Smash
Damian Penny
Natalie Solent
Andrew Sullivan
Eve Tushnet

Ravenclaw House
Michael Berube
Juan Cole
Crooked Timber
Brad Delong
Donkey Rising
Dan Drezner
Amy Sullivan
Volokh Conspiracy
War and Piece
Winds of Change

House Elves
Tom Burka
Al Franken
Happy Fun Pundit
Mad Kane
Neal Pollack
Poor Man
Silflay Hraka
SK Bubba

Beth Jacob
Kesher Talk
Meryl Yourish

Prisoners of Azkaban
Ted Barlow
Beyond Corporate
William Burton
Cooped Up
Cogent Provacateur
Letter From Gotham
Likely Story
Mind Over What Matters
Not Geniuses
Brian O'Connell
Rants in Our Pants
Ann Salisbury
Thomas Spencer
To the Barricades

A & L Daily
Campaign Desk
Daily Howler
Op Clambake
Media Matters

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Party Animals:
Clark Community
From The Roots(DSCC)
Kicking Ass (DNC)
Stakeholder (DCCC)

Not a Fish
Ribbity Blog
Tal G

Baghdad Burning
Salam Pax

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>

Monday, October 07, 2002
Legal Notes

Dahlia Lithwick has an excellent article on the excesses of the prosecution of Winona Ryder.

The fact that there were felony charges filed at all is astonishing in its own right, as an exposé conducted by the entertainment tabloid Extra, Celebrity Justice (dogged friend to celebs everywhere!) revealed that in court records of all 5,000 grand theft felony cases filed in Los Angeles County last year, not one defendant was facing penalties as harsh as Ryder's. In fact, in all cases involving theft exceeding the amount alleged in Ryder's case, the defendants received standard misdemeanor plea deals. The district attorney's office has refused to accept a plea for anything less than a felony in Ryder's case.

In fact, the district attorney's office has refused to accept Saks' own multiple requests to drop the charges against Ryder. In a recent article in the National Review online, Joel Mowbray writes that the Los Angeles district attorney's office warned Saks that if they didn't cooperate in the Ryder prosecution, their attorneys would no longer prosecute shoplifting cases at the Beverly Hills location. Hey, that will send a message to shoplifters!

Instead of pleading this case out and getting on with the business of prosecuting murderers and rapists, Cooley's office has now diverted at least eight attorneys to work full time on this case, with a deputy district attorney having to reschedule a murder prosecution so she can convict Ryder.

According to Lithwick, even the drug charges against Ryder are essentially phony. Ryder was in possession of a generic version of a brand medication for which she had a legitimate perscription. And the videotape makes the shoplifting charges look questionable as well. Eight attorneys in the DA's office dealing with this case which could have been pled down to a misdemeanor, as similar cases with no prior criminal record routinely are, means eight attorneys not going after murderers, rapists, or major white collar fraud.

Charles Kuffner notes that, in Nebraska, a victim has a legal right to appear at a parole hearing - but only to say what the prosecution wants. A victim who wishes to speak for clemency has no right to be heard: "The case went to Nebraska's highest court, which reached this conclusion: Victims who testify for the defendant are not legally victims. "

Aside from the bizarre legal conclusion, I really suspect that drawing the victim or victim's family into a long-running role in the drama as speakers for revenge, something which can last for a decade or more in a capital case, does make it harder for the family to genuinely recover from a catastrophe and get on with their lives. It would be very interesting to see real data on whether these `victim's rights` laws do actually contribute to anything except longer sentences.