Thursday, January 27, 2011

He Gets to Plead "Not Guilty"?!!

Maybe our justice system should be renamed the “Bald-faced Lie” system.” Or the “I’m Not So Proud as I Thought I’d Be” system.” How about the “I’m Hateful and Vicious, But I Didn’t Really Mean It So Please Don’t Hurt Me” system?

Otherwise, Jared Loughner would not have the option of pleading “Not Guilty” to the heinous crimes he so gleefully committed in Tucson. I am so enraged by this that I could spin around and explode.

I don’t think we should have to look at his face ever again. And he should not be allowed to plead “Not Guilty.” Still, the law says he has the right to occupy our time, spend our money, and drain our psyches trying to prove what he cannot prove.

Anyone who plans such a crime as he did, carries it out in the light of day with multiple witnesses (not to mention victims), is filmed in the act by surveillance cameras, and is captured at the scene with the offending weapon in his hand is - Guilty.

In times of economic hardship, here’s a big money saver: When the guy is guilty, he’s gotta plead guilty. The District Attorney shouldn’t have to spend hours and months – no years - and hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars preparing to prove what we already know - that the people saw what they saw, and suffered what they suffered. The facts are in evidence. We don’t need to test a theory about the maiming of our Congresswoman or the death of a child. Loughner will not convince us that he wasn’t caught at the scene by the heroes who caught him.

On the flip side, no Public Defender need work the angles for a person who’s put himself in Loughner’s predicament. There is no reasonable doubt to be found. He did it. He has proven himself guilty of the horrendous acts he’s trying to wriggle away from. His family needn’t go bankrupt defending the indefensible. Let them help him now, if they can, with psychiatry and moral support. Tardy at best, but more fit than the inevitable waste of mounting a nonsensical defense.

He’s pleading not guilty by reason of mental defect, or insanity. Oh he has a defect, of that we can be certain. But this is not a viable defense if one has planned the crime in advance. Loughner’s pre-meditation obviates the element of, “I didn’t know what I was doing.”

All the time and tears can and should be allocated to determining an appropriate response to such a scenario and such a man as Jared Loughner. It must and will come down to whether or not, in the moment, he knew right from wrong. Then two choices emerge: If he knew it was wrong – prison or death. If it all seemed OK to him – institutional lock-down.

Of course, everyone deserves a fair trial - that is, everyone who can demonstrate a reasonable doubt as to guilt. For those folks, we provide a day in court with every accoutrement. But the law allowing not guilty pleas when there is no doubt of any kind as to guilt, seems to say to its citizens, “Pretend you don’t know what you know. Act like you didn’t see what you saw. Or, once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away…” Must we presume innocence when indisputable facts in our possession show guilt?

Yes, Loughner deserves due process and a fair trial for determining appropriate consequences for a man guilty without a doubt of any kind of actions he may have been incapable of understanding. That’s where we will end up. But as it is, we’re strapped into our chairs for a long, bad movie. Can’t we cut to the chase?

OK, this feels like a wild harangue. Maybe it is. I’m the whack job. I have rage and outrage in my heart. Egregious injury topped with devastating insult. So I’m writing about it. It helps a little.

Intellectually I know our system of justice is the best system. Our Bill of Rights protects us all. Even Jared Loughner. We’re going to take care of him. Of course. God Bless America.