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Tuesday, 24 November, 2020

At What Price Justice?

Date: 27 August, 2000

By: Chief

Imageho among us, or should I ask how many among us, could afford to pay for and subsequently mount a credible defense if arrested for a felony? A misdemeanor? Considering a misdemeanor, upon conviction, can put a citizen in the county jail for upwards of one year, a fine or both. A conviction for a felony can place a citizen in a state or federal prison for life, a horrendous fine, possibly both and in a capital case a citizen can be sentenced to death. With that in mind, I shall ask the question again, how many among us could afford to pay for and subsequently mount a credible defense if arrested for a felony or a misdemeanor?

Does justice or injustice have a monetary price? I submit justice does indeed have a monetary price. I further submit that injustice also has a monetary price. To be sure the price is not at all fixed or static. Pay $10,000.00 dollars and the charge is dropped. No, that is not how the game is normally played, though if a citizen were to know an attorney who had a strong connection with the local district attorney, an elected official, the dropping of a felony or misdemeanor could be, and has been, accomplished by means of an outright payoff.

However the normal means of purchasing justice or injustice depends upon the financial resources of the person arrested. Consider the following: two citizens are arrested for the crime of fraud. One citizen is quite a successful businessman. The other citizen can barely make ends meet. The successful businessman can afford to hire the attorney of his choice. The other citizen has to rely on a public defender. Both are innocent of the crime. Now which of the two citizens has the better chance of acquittal by jury? Try the same scenario except — both citizens are guilty. Who has the better chance of getting an acquittal ... even though they did commit the crime?

Therefore justice or injustice does have a price. Here is another example: A family, husband and wife, were arrested over one year ago for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Both people are under a doctor's care and both have a prescription for marijuana. To date they have not been to trial, they have had to declare bankruptcy, they have had to find new attorneys, their original attorneys did not have the finances to see the case through to completion and were thus on the verge of bankruptcy. What will be the outcome? I have no idea. The couple have new attorneys and both are very, very good. The 'star' witness against them has since been fired for perjury while testifying on other marijuana cases. We will all just have to wait and see.

Here is the example that really irks me. A 15 year old boy is arrested for sexual battery of another minor male. The person who makes the complaint has been diagnosed with a mental disorder (bi-polar). The 15 year old claims he didn't do it. The other minor claims the same thing. Yet because the case was in the hands of our 'criminal justice system' and the 15 year old and his parents did not have the money to hire a good attorney. The attorney for the 15 year old recommended, based upon lack of money to plea bargain. The kid did, with the parents approval. Now this kid is 18 and can't get a job. A police record for sexual battery does not make for winning job interviews!

Some day we will all end up paying for that 15 year old. When he is in prison. Surely one can see the writing on the wall. The kid can't get work. On his own. Hungry with no place to live. Indeed, We the People shall pay a price. A very steep price.

So why is this happening in the 'land of the free'? I submit the answer lies within the halls of the legislatures of the several states and Congress. How many new laws are passed each and every year? Far too many to be sure. How many of these new laws are because of a special interest? Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, Hand Gun Control Inc., to name but two. How many of these new laws are born because of political action committee (PAC) money? I do not have the answers, however I believe most new laws are passed based upon one or the other and quite possibly both. Whatever the reason, what conduct was lawful yesterday is unlawful today. That is intolerable.

We the People can bring this intolerable situation to a rip roaring halt. We hold our elected representatives accountable. We refuse, as in just say no, to their re-election! Period. No matter how 'good' they purport themselves to be. We start with a scratch team in our collective state houses and Congress. If our elected representatives do not carry out the wishes of We the People, we fire them. It is certainly as simple as that.

Bear in mind the election is approaching us rapidly. November is a mere 2 months off. Let our representatives know in terms and words they will surely understand — enough is enough. We the People shall tolerate no more. Do your job as We the People tell you, within the confines of our Constitution, the supreme law of the land or ... prepare for the unemployment line.

Do not forget judges as well. They also, with the exception of federal judges and justices, are elected. They too can be fired. They too can be recalled. They too can be brought under the magnifying glass of a grand jury.

Once examples, and not to many at that, are made change will be in the air. Change for the better for We the People. Possibly We the People, no matter our individual income, will have access to justice, indeed equal justice, without a large purse. Perhaps We the People shall have access to blind justice, as it should be. Moreover, as it was meant to be.

Citizens should not have to dream about the right to equal, impartial justice under law. Yet for most equal justice, impartial justice, is strictly a dream.

It is time to make that dream a reality.

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