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SCALES OF JUSTICE Two sentences show how unbalanced our criminal justice system has become.
The Express-Times | September 22, 2002 | Our View

Posted on 09/22/2002 6:34:16 PM PDT by jack22

There is a danger in placing criminal sentences side by side to compare their appropriateness. No two crimes are the same. Factors that argue for leniency or stiffer terms must be weighed. PLus, sentencing laws have eroded judicial discretion to the point we seldom hear the monikers "maximum" or "minimum" applied to a judge's anme anymore.

Still, two sentencing decisions that came down Friday-one in New Jersey, one in Pennsylvania- seem so unbalanced, viewed together, that anyone who cares about the fairness of our criminal justice system must ask: What's going on here?

**IN Warren County, Superior Court Judge John J. Pursel sentenced Jeffery Mott, a 30 year old Army National Guard Sergeant, to up to five years in jail for shooting a 15 year old girl with a BB gun in retaliation for a Halloween prank.

**In Northampton County, Judge Jack A. Panella reduced a minimum sentence of Jason Boyce, from eight years to five years (no change in the max. of 20). Boyce had pleaded quilty to pumping three bullets in another man, who survived, at the entrance of the Big Kmart in Wilson Borough.

Similar sentences for radically different crimes. I nthe latter, Panella investigated Boyce's claim that he had been promised a minimum five-year term by the district attorney's office in return for a guilty plea. The judge, in reviewing th etranscript, decided the defendant was correct, and reduced the minimum. (Which raises the question, if an assistant district attorney secures a plea by offering a five year minimum, why does he then seek a ten year minimum at sentencing?

The five year sentence in the Mott case isn't just baffling, it defies logic. True, no one is justified in shooting at anyone under such circumstances (it was "Mischief Night" in P'burg: the kids Mott was accused of injuring damaged Mott's property), and today's BB guns are dangerous weapons, but five years for a shot that left a superficial mark on the victim? Pursel's sentence seems based more upon Mott's lack of remorse than the facts.

Bang. No parole for at least three years.

Even if Mott sabotaged any claim for leniency by his attitude or by changing his story, as the prosecution alleged, the punishment should fit the crime. Five years for a BB shot did little or no damage is an over reaction, and it more than turn a wage-earner into a ward of the taxpayers. It begs us all to second guess the workings of the criminal justice system.

Despite our restrictive sentencing laws, no judge has a mandate to shoo sensibility out of the courtroom. Ultimately, the public's confidence in the system is the bedrock upon which all our laws, and our judge's authority, reside.

TOPICS: Editorial; Extended News; News/Current Events
The facts are it never happened! Why show remorse for something you didn't do?
1 posted on 09/22/2002 6:34:16 PM PDT by jack22
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To: jack22
Exactly. The sentences today are much like those in socialist regimes, in that it is your attitude, and how you "cooperated" that is more important than the crime. Prosecutors and judges have an interest in punishing anyone who doesn't plea and stands for a jury trial. Those that do reduce their power. Why do you think that the vast majority of people arrested plea to a lesser charge? Offering a plea bargain is in fact a form of coertion in the judicial system. Plea bargains should be banned, and we should pay for then necessary courts and judges to handle the additional load.
2 posted on 09/22/2002 6:49:11 PM PDT by marktwain
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To: jack22
I remember something being posted here when the original story took place about the BB-gun incident,but not the details-can anyone provide a link or URL?
3 posted on 09/22/2002 6:56:33 PM PDT by sawsalimb
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To: jack22
In Pennsylvania the Max number is what matters. I know it confuses many people.

In Pennsylvania you must serve 85% of the MAX number on your sentence.

If you get sentenced to 3-20 Years, it is the same as getting sentence 5-20 Years. You still must serve 85% of the 20 Years.

In addition Pennsylvania is one of only 3 or 4 states with no "Good Time" For example, in most other states you get 1.5 days for every day served. Some states make it 2 days for every day served as long as you are "Good" in prison.

Pennsylvania, Utah and one or two other states have no "Good Time".

What your sentence is, is your sentence.

I do know that you must serve 85% of the Max number of your sentence. So the 20 years is what matters. In essence he was given an 17 or 18 year sentence.

4 posted on 09/22/2002 6:57:00 PM PDT by FF578
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To: jack22
It never happened? I haven't seen this before, so if you could summarize what the story is, why it never happened, why he got convicted anyway, ect it would be helpful. Even if it did happen, what sort of property damage are we talking about? TPing his house, setting something on fire, or what?
5 posted on 09/22/2002 7:43:13 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage
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To: FF578
I live in a state where we have certain crimes that are punishable by mandatory sentences.So if a person is convicted of a crime,no matter what the circumstances,they get a mandatory sentence,which they do every day of.Some people have been put away for really long amounts of time,without the judge being able to look at the circumstances of the case.All this happened because alot of people felt indeterminate sentences were unfair-prisoners never really knew how much time they would be doing.I think judges should have some discretion if they feel a case merits a shorter sentence.Violent crimes like the ones covered by the mandatorys should be punished,but fairly,on a case by case basis.
6 posted on 09/22/2002 7:56:48 PM PDT by Rocksalt
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To: jack22
We don't have a Justice System; we have a legal system.
7 posted on 09/22/2002 7:59:24 PM PDT by Consort
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To: marktwain

Offering a plea bargain is in fact a form of coertion in the judicial system. Plea bargains should be banned, and we should pay for then necessary courts and judges to handle the additional load.

Plea bargains are totally bogus. Charge the person/defendant for violating the law they actually violated/broke instead of filing trumped up charges only to be later plea bargained down. But that's a comparatively small problem compared to this.

One of two key factors in how and why almost no laws are repealed and so many laws get on the books in the first place -- judges.

Who sets the model example of the courts? Judges. The problem is, they are all political-agenda judges.

How Judges that Preside Over
Jury Trials Routinely Violate the Constitution.

"As a practical matter, I don't know how this is different from the beginning of a trial, when you tell the jurors you have to follow the law as I state it," Warren said. "I just won't give [the disapproved instruction]." California Supreme Court Don't Tell Jurors to Rat on Each Other

The above statement in bold told to jurors, since 1894 has been in violation of each Defendant's Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury. The Sixth Amendment reads:

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed..."

Prior to 1894 judges routinely told jurors that they were to judge the facts and the law. ...And the law. For the defendant, a jury that judges the law upholds the defendant's right to a jury that is not partial for the government. It is the defendant's right to have a jury that judges the law as well as the facts.

To judge all facts in the case includes judging the most critical fact -- that a person was charged with breaking a certain and specific law or laws. Without that there can be no case to take to trial. It is the primary and most critical fact for which the government makes its case. Pressing criminal charges against a person gets the process in motion. The reason it must be the prosecution that gets the process started is because the suspect/defendant is innocent. Innocent until proven guilty in court.

Thus it was not the person's/defendant's actions that initiated force against any person or their property. For, until the defendant has received the verdict it is not known whether the arresting law enforcement officer acted in self-defense in correctly upholding the law or unknowingly acted with initiation of force while attempting to uphold the law. That is, the LEO making the arrest had reason to believe the person broke the law and then the DA (district attorney) pressed charges against the suspect. Yet the LEO/DA/government don't know for certain that the suspect/defendant broke the law. That detail will be answered by the jury.

What does it mean when the jury's verdict is an acquittal? It means the charges against the defendant were in error. That is, the defendant never broke the law he was charged with breaking. The law has been judged by the jury to have been wrongfully charged against the defendant. The jury says, "No. The law does not apply to the defendant breaking it. The law only applies in that the defendant abided the law." The law has been deemed to have been wrongfully applied -- the law does not apply to the defendant.

Guess what? That's what jury nullification is -- the jury discovers the same thing. That is, with jury nullification the jury decides that the law does not apply to the defendant -- the law had been wrongfully applied.

As per the Sixth Amendment the defendant has the right to an impartial trial wherein the jury judges the law. For there is no way the jury can avoid judging the law. The jury has only two choices, 1) the law was correctly applied/charged against the defendant, or 2) the law was wrongfully applied/charged against the defendant.

It is each judge's job responsibility to ensure that the defendant's Sixth Amendment rights are protected. The primary key to each trial is the laws that the defendant is charged to have violated. It is by way of the facts presented by the prosecution and the defense during the trial that the primary key -- law as charged -- is judged to have been correct or in error. The facts presented by the prosecution and defense are secondary. That's the nature of cause and effect relationships. When one thing cannot exist without the other first being present the first thing is primary and the effect of that is secondary.

It is accepted that the defendant acted in a manner that appeared to have broken the law and was one factor in the LEO's/DA's/government's judgment that the person's actions violated the law. It cannot be misconstrued that the defendant's actions are the primary cause. For the defendant is deemed innocent and only suspected to have broken the law. The primary cause is the LEO's/DA's/government's judgment to set the court process in motion -- not the suspect's actions.

As per the Sixth Amendment an impartial jury favors neither the government nor the defendant.

Each jury that each judge has failed to inform the jury that they are to judge the law as well as the facts as they pertain to the case/trial has caused each of those juries to favor the government over the defendant.

Since 1894 each judge that has presided over jury trials has routinely violated the constitution. Concurrently, each defendant in each of those trials has had his or her Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury violated. ....Violated by the judge presiding over the trial.

"At issue in People v. Engelman, 02 C.D.O.S. 6411, was California Jury Instruction 17.41.1, which judges give before deliberations. It directs jurors to advise the court if they suspect someone is refusing to discuss the evidence or plans to disregard the law." California Supreme Court Don't Tell Jurors to Rat on Each Other

As shown earlier the jury cannot disregard the law for it is the law that is the primary key being judged.

"Unless jurors are informed of their solemn responsibility to report misconduct, I predict that many judgments will be reversed simply because the trial judge never had the opportunity to cure the problem." California Supreme Court Don't Tell Jurors to Rat on Each Other

That is absurdly trivial compared to the fact that virtually every judge presiding over jury trials routinely violates defendants' Sixth Amendment rights. That's a valid reason why many judgments will be reversed. ...Reversed simply because the judge violated the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury when he or she instructed the jury to favor the government over the defendant. The misconduct originates with the judges violation of each defendant's right to an impartial jury.

8 posted on 09/22/2002 8:04:17 PM PDT by Zon
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To: jack22
My understanding is that in the People's Republic of Taxachusetts, there is a MANDATORY MINIMUM one year jail sentence for possession of a SINGLE ROUND of ammunition without a "License" (and that in fact this can be construed to apply to possession of a SINGLE BB SHOT) - but NO mandatory minimum for murder.

There was at least one case of a kid from out of state having a couple of shotgun shells rolling around the floor of his car when he got stopped by the Mass. Gestapo for a traffic violation (probably atonal horn quality or uneven windshield wiper parking angle or taillight spectral emissions not matching) - and ended up doing a year in jail.

But in the mind of liberals (oops... oxymoron, there...) the guy with the shotgun shells is a MURDERER, where as the guy who cut his children up with an axe is "Sick" and it's just his "Cry for "Help"...

9 posted on 09/22/2002 9:51:50 PM PDT by fire_eye
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To: jack22
"Factors that argue for leniency or stiffer terms must be weighed."

Usually based on who your daddy is and how much cash you have.

10 posted on 09/22/2002 10:16:53 PM PDT by brat
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To: jack22
I've been looking for something like this, an opportunity for GW to bring attention to liberal judges run amok. You put those two sentances next to each other, and everyone gets it. Here is how GW could start a political firestorm against liberal judges:

Any kid who shoots a BB gun with an air power so light it doesn't even break the skin should get a pardon by GW Bush, along with a stiff warning to all children that if they ever lose their freedom over a minor BB wound, they won't be pardoned for a full week!

They are certainly soft enough on real gun shots. Three bullets and the guy is sentanced for five. Darn good thing it wasn't three BBs. Great day in the morning.
11 posted on 09/23/2002 2:25:03 AM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March
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To: Arthur Wildfire! March
Correction: GW should speak out against judges who 'lack common sense', regardless of title. "And those are the kind of judges he is trying to appoint," could be everyone's discreet followup mantra.
12 posted on 09/23/2002 2:31:24 AM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March
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To: sawsalimb
I have one link to an article that was posted, I know there were two, but coould only find one.
13 posted on 09/23/2002 3:21:20 AM PDT by jack22
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To: A.J.Armitage
here is alink to one of the articles that showed up on Freerepublic back in April when he was convicted, the incident happened in 1999!
The damage was a broken front door. The "noise" the girls heard was an air=powered rivet gun (a tool), this does not fire projectiles and was used for the noise to scare off the teenagers. There were more than the two girls involved but only two testified. Hmmm! Why didn't the other teens testify? Because, they didn't want to lie about the events of the evening!!
14 posted on 09/23/2002 3:26:00 AM PDT by jack22
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To: jack22
Perhaps this has already been done but might it be productive to alert New Jersey Freepers to this, plus some ideas on what they might do to assist? Just a thought.
15 posted on 09/23/2002 4:51:26 AM PDT by toddst
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To: jack22
Fact of the matter the Justice System in America should be spelled JUST-US because the only people protected by it are the rich and powerful the ordinary citizen cannot afford to participate in it and even if you do it is still a good old boy system designed for lawyers and the rich.
I worked in the system for 30 years and most people including lawyers fear the judges and know they will or may have to come before them again and will not stand up and be counted even if they wanted to.
Most legislators are the same and through fear and intimidation we have dictators who sat upon their throwns and treat the general population along with the victims of crimes like dirt.
I was recently involved in a case where I have spent 8 years of my life fighting an injustice and in the middle of my case before the South Carolina Supreme Court the attorney representing me was stopped in the middle of his presentation so the Chief JUST-US could aknowledge some of her friends and aquaintences and give what I would consider a politicial spiel about some changes they were making in the system and how good they always trested her when she was in Charleston.I have been in and out of court in my years from my occupation as a police officer and this doesnt surprise me but my wife happened to be in attendance and it really shocked her.So folks if you are average or ordinary or a victim of crime you may even end up being a victim of the JUST-US System. I know from personel expeirence.
I hate to admit it but if I were younger and hadnt been treated like dirt by the system I probably wouldnt be saying this.I have always feared judges and over the years have seen a few of them treat the general populace like dirt and ridicule them. I have also seen the powerful and political handled with kid gloves,taken to special or different areas from where their crimes happened so the watered down sentence would not be as noticeable.
At 63 years of age and retired I am no longer intimidate however I still have a fear because I knwow the system is quite capable of still getting to me and my family.But there are worse things than death,sometimes death may even be a relief.Americas System of Just-US stinks and there is a price to pay.
16 posted on 09/23/2002 5:32:50 AM PDT by gunnedah
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To: gunnedah; jack22
Americas System of Just-US stinks and there is a price to pay.

What you say is likely true. However, what is your message in this case? Are you suggesting this family cannot expect anything beyond what's been handed down in this case?

17 posted on 09/23/2002 5:53:19 AM PDT by toddst
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To: toddst
No I realize they have to accept what is handed down like I did. I am trying to show our system is broken,needs fixing and we shouldnt wait until so many people get screwed before directing our attention to it through whatever means we can. I was a part of the system and I have to live with the decision but that doesnt mean I have to sit by without doing anything to call it to the publics attention.
In my opinion Americans have sat back and boasted for so long that everything we have is the best and accept things at face value unless and until it happens to them, just as I did.We have lost control of our country and our government.I would like to try and keep others from making the same mistakes I have and maybe even protect a few because as it happened to me it can happen to you and inaction has what has gotten our system in the shape its in.Information friend is the answer.
Also the Homosexual agenda and rights are being forced down our throats,no pun intended and we are not protecting the rights of those like Jesse Dirkhising. Read the article and tell me this should not be considered a hate crime,just more justice for the regular person I guess. Uh!
18 posted on 09/23/2002 7:20:02 AM PDT by gunnedah
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To: jack22
Someone quoted your remark, "The facts are it never happened!" and asked if this was genuine. I've been meaning to ask, was this just hypothetical?
19 posted on 11/11/2002 12:02:16 PM PST by Arthur Wildfire! March
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