As Garrison Keillor says, sort of, “it’s been a quiet week for crime, here in the Twin Cities.” But recently, after stomping a victim into unconciousness, five men decided to show up an hour late for their sentencing and most received about four months in the workhouse as a penalty. The crime+violent behavior set off a fire!
Last summer, a father played with his wife and three kids at a local amusement park. About midnight, they started to leave when seven men surrounded his daughterl, tapped her in the head with an inflatable bat and made comments. The 41 year old suburban father yelled at the group who then turned to attack him. Viciously, they hit and stomped him into unconsciousness before his family. He sustained permanent damages. It’s been covered several times by the StarTribune at www.startribune.com, Aug. 5,2009.
Yet the perpetrators, who pled guilty under a deal with the Scott County Attorney, received probation with about four months in the workhouse. The Victim and his family approved of the deal.
As is required in all felony cases in Minnesota, each man went through a pre-sentence investigation where most of them made excuses for what they did. “Wrong place at the wrong time” to describe how they “accidentally” got involved in the beating. Their defense lawyers continued by telling the sentencing judge the victim’s name hadn’t been released so the client couldn’t apologize and another complained of the “biased” media coverage against the client.
Having practiced as a defense lawyer for years, I’ve been in this exact spot many times: representing a person who has committed a reprehensible crime but still required, as the defense lawyer, to advocate for leniency. Let me tell you–it’s a tough spot to be in!!
Although most states have Victim’s Rights laws which give the victims an opportunity to participate in the resolution of cases, short of trial, I still feel sorry for many of them.
Is it the crush of caseloads that make it difficult for judges and prosecutors to get appropriate sentences, is the crowding of jails and prisons the reason? Are the defense lawyers too good for the prosecutors? Are we more worried about the defendant’s rights than the victim’s rights?
Here’s the irony: so many people were outraged by this incident and demanded tougher sentences however, as a country we imprison more people than almost all other countries. So, does simply “getting tough” solve the problem and give justice to the stomped man?
Let me know your thoughts or solutions.