The Long Winding Road

I’m writing in the hopes of educating some, and because, honestly Adam’s post motivated me to do so. I moved away as soon as I turned 18 but that doesn’t mean I forget about the valley. However, after today, and the political posts I read,  I couldn’t help but post; even if it was to just inform. This is no place to persuade, or condescend to my former teachers, coaches, and mentors. Hell, they’d probably just be happy I finally learned what an oxford comma was. Before I start, I’d like to state I’m incredibly grateful for my teachers at CF and the valley. However, I’m writing this to shock their and everyone else’s conscience.

In a small town, we have an oversimplified view of the criminal justice system. However, what many of us fail to see-including myself, is that it is a long winding road. The first block is the road is the police report. The second block is the investigation. Then when we finally investigate the suspect, we begin the walk down the road. The first step towards guilt is the arraignment- where they are presumed innocent, then we walk them to the preliminary exam- if it is a felony. Then we go various motions and hearing, and again the burden lies solely with the state. If they meet their burden, then the end result is trial. The trial is a slow march towards the end of the road. The state argues, the the defense, the closing arguments; with the state having a rebuttal.

Then the jury deliberates, but not without, experiencing this walk with the defendant. They’ve walked down this long winding road. At this end of the road is the State’s burden of proof, and if they don’t tear down every brick, then the jury must acquit. The burden is often minimized. Often, I would acquit. Yes, even in the local cases of DV, DUI, or battery.

This is where I must confess, your boy of the valley has become a defense attorney, so I will always look to acquit but again, that is the presumption the defendant is entitled to. If you don’t show me evidence of beyond a reasonable doubt proving every single element, I will acquit, and not feel ashamed.  That reasonable doubt is a brick left in the wall, it’s a juror left wondering, and a victim mis-identifying a client in court.

These are all things most Americans can get behind (in theory). Until, it hits close to home, or jabs their principles. When a violent, or serious property crime hits Bellville people, and jurors are out for blood. They see a defendant and come to a verdict within opening statements. This is wrong. While the jury is out for blood, they see it as an injustice when the defendant is sentenced to anything less than life, but the majority of prisoners will be re-released into society. Only social constraints such as the box, and Clinton’s housing restraints will hold them back; a conviction won’t. We must move past the idea that a felon is a bad person, as opposed to a person who made a bad decision.

However, I must stress criminal defense attorneys aren’t pro-crime, rather they’re pro Constitution. They believe in the first, second, fourth, sixth, and eighth amendments more than anyone. To the point to where they will make a zealous losing argument.  They will go to jail for their clients, and take punches for their clients.

They will advocate for a misdemeanor, and treatment instead of a felony and punitive punishment such as treatment. Criminal defense advocates aren’t trying to subvert justice; rather we are trying to create it. Not every client deserves prison, not every government argument tears down every brick wall of reasonable doubt.Within this idea of personal sentencing I must rebut my colleagues idea of taking personal responsibility.

When you treat an addict as a behavioral problem within the criminal justice system, you are enhancing criminal behavior by sending them to prison- or pro-longed jail. You don’t address the consequences which affect the true victims-the victims.  It perpetuates stereotypes, and reinforces the 12 step idea, which only works for 5% of those who enter the program; after all it is based on a moral failing. While drug addicting and recovery takes some individual ownership it’s hard to refute data that the majority  of people who try drugs will become addicts-as AA, or other 12 step programs will lead you to believe. (This may be rebutted with personal experience, or you have never been there; I have, in fact I’ve been to over 800 meetings, and found more solace in harm reduction, and HAMS).

Lastly, I know there wasn’t a transition sentence ( and it would make many elementary teachers sad-including Mrs. Orr; you were kind of mean anyways, and made my sister and I cry- we’re both successful now.)<– that was an attack on our education growing up.  However,  to the non-petty point… On Saturday, people blocked anothers path to a Donald Trump rally- was it a crime? Absolutely. It was a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are punishable up to a year and jail and some fines. I’m not faulting them for block Donald Trump, or protesting, but they could’ve been held liable for Arizona’s version of negligent homicide-If- and that’s a big IF someone died on that road way, but noone did. No life deserves to die because of a political ideal. (that sounds oddly pro-life; lest me assure me assure you I’m firmly pro-choice). Those who say Republican never held a rally to physically voting, never read a voter id law. But I digress. What upset me the most was I had former coaches, teachers, and mentors, threatening to run protesters over.They defined them as roadkill. You don’t have to agree with them,you can condemn them as the criminal- they prima facie appear to be, however, you can’t play judge, jury, and executioner on your own. The judicial system exists on all grounds not to just protect the Bundy’s.  Also, lets play hypothetical, if you’re kid is in the background, and you run an individual over, what ground do you stand? You stand on manslaughter, a few years in prison away from your kids. But again, they would have to proven beyond a reasonble doubt.

 

I hope the Valley is willing to see another perpsective. I mean, I am a criminal, who has become a defender of the accused, or in a failed brief ” that innocent man over that over there” but it’s important to have a dissent.

If there is any questions; hatemails, or comments otherwise- contact mlbrown@law.cwsl.edu, mbrown11@kent.edu . If immediate call/text 419-564-8386

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