You may recall the so-called “Affluenza” case of 2013, which I wrote about here.
Ethan Couch a Texas teenager from a rich family, killed four people in a drunken-driving crash (he also had no license) and crippled a friend riding with him. Instead of jail time, the 16-year-old was given probation mandating expensive counseling and treatment by a judge who found herself vilified far and wide. Now this, from his lawyers, Reagan Wynn and Scott Brown:
“We have recently learned that, for the last several days, the juvenile probation officer has been unable to make contact with Ethan or his mother with whom he has been residing.”
A video surfaced showing Couch playing beer pong, which is a violation of probation that could send him to prison. The assumption is that he had fled to avoid that result, and may have even left the country. The Washington Post reports that The FBI and U.S. Marshals Service have joined the search for Couch, who is now considered a fugitive.
So, I am asked, how do the Ethics Alarms observations on the original sentence stand now, since it is clear that the judge’s attempt to reform Ethan without locking him up has failed?
The answer is, having read what I wrote initially again, that I wouldn’t retract a word.
Here’s what I wrote, and my comments now: Continue reading
Bias and incompetence is a terrible combination…especially for a newspaper.
You may have read about the car that sped through a crowded intersection during Oklahoma State University’s homecoming parade, killing fours and injuring dozens. The driver was charged with four counts of second-degree murder. [ NOTE: The post here originally said that the driver was drunk;her lawyer now says she was not, but is mentally ill.] According to the Record Eagle, however, that was a shooting, and the car was a gun. That’s the paper’s front page above. How could this happen?
It happens because journalists are so obsessed with convincing the public that the United States is in the grasp of unprecedented gun violence that the desperately want to see as many shooting as possible. It happens because the news media is so used to warping facts to assist progressive indoctrination that they increasingly don’t pay attention to facts. It happens because journalism is no longer a profession, because it has no standards, just agendas. It happens because bias is not only not discouraged, it’s celebrated.
How many news organizations highlighted the recent Pew study showing that U.S. gun deaths had declined 30% since 1993? Were you aware of it? The media largely ignored that news item, because it does not support the predominant, media-driven hysteria aimed at eventual gun confiscation.
The editors explained the fantasy headline with a correction that said… Continue reading
Yesterday, Heather Cook, the No. 2 official in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, struck and killed cyclist Thomas Palermo with her vehicle. He later died; she did not stop and drove on, leaving the scene and her victim badly injured by the side of the road. Another motorist stopped and called 911, and cyclists who set out to find the fleeing car reported seeing a Subaru with a smashed windshield. twenty minutes after the fatal accident Cook returned while investigators were still on the scene.
In an email to the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, the Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton announced that Cook, the first woman to be ordained a bishop in the Maryland diocese had been involved in a fatal accident, and said,
“Several news agencies have reported this as a ‘hit and run.’ Bishop Cook did leave the scene initially, but returned after about 20 minutes to take responsibility for her actions.”
Oh. Well, leaving a man to die on the road is all right, then. Continue reading
Listen to your mother, Joe.
The infamous vehicular homicide case that generated the “Affluenza Defense” is well on its way to becoming an ethics train wreck.
The news media keeps doing its part: today CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield, whom I can no longer recall why I ever thought she was more than an over-opinionated hack (I think it was her glasses) said again today that Judge Jean Boyd “bought” 16-year-old scofflaw Ethan Crouch’s defense that he wasn’t responsible for his actions (that ended up leading to the death of four and critical injuries to two of his friends) because he had been spoiled by an affluent upbringing. As I already pointed out, there is no evidence that Judge Boyd agreed with that dubious argument, and solid evidence that she did not. Never mind. Ashleigh and the rest of her incompetent colleagues will continue to try to mislead the public regarding this just as they regularly do on nearly every other news story.
The more surprising development was the sudden participation of the Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon, he whose efforts to jail young Couch were foiled by Boyd’s expansive judicial compassion toward a minor, in the ethics follies. He’s attempting another “bite of the apple, ” as judges say, by asking Boyd to lock up Ethan on two counts of intoxication assault that he argues are still pending before her court. Shannon explained:
“During his recent trial, the 16-year-old admitted his guilt in four cases of intoxication manslaughter and two cases of intoxication assault. There has been no verdict formally entered in the two intoxication assault cases. Every case deserves a verdict.”
Shannon’s renewed plea focuses on the two teens riding in the back of Couch’s Ford F-350 pickup (voluntarily riding there, knowing the driver was unlicensed and drunk as a skunk) who suffered life-altering injuries. One of them, Sergio Molina, is paralyzed and can communicate only by blinking. It is 1) disingenuous 2) unprofessional 3) unfair 4) futile, and he knows it, 5) irresponsible, and 6) probably unconstitutional.
All of which means his gambit is 7) unethical. Continue reading
Arthur King of WGAN newsradio engaged me in a segment of his show “Inside Maine” this afternoon.
You can, if you are so inclined, hear it here.
Much thanks to Arthur for the chance to chat with him about these issues.
Judge Boyd, being judged. (The earlier photo posted was NOT Judge Boyd. I apologize to the judge, readers, and whoever’s photo that was, for the error)
The newsmedia and blogosphere are going bonkers over the sentence given to Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old Texan who pleaded guilty last week to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury. He had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit (Couch had stolen beer from a Walmart), plus traces of Valium in his system, when he lost control of the Ford F-350 pick-up he was driving (over the speed limit) and slammed into four people trying to fix a disabled car on the shoulder. They were killed; two of his seven passengers were critically injured. Prosecutors proposed 20 years in jail as the proper punishment for Couch, but his attorneys tried a novel defense: they had experts testify that their client suffered from “affluenza,” a malady caused by his rich, amoral, neglectful parents, who taught him (the theory goes) that there are no consequences for anything, if one has enough money.
Rejecting the prosecution’s argument, State District Judge Jean Boyd, presiding over the Fort Worth Juvenile Court, shocked everyone by sentencing Couch to only 10 years of probation—no prison time at all. The gist of the media outrage: once again, the life philosophy of Couch’s sociopathic parents is validated. The rich get away with everything: a poor, minority defendant who engaged in the same conduct would have been imprisoned. This is the injustice of the criminal law system in America.
Maybe. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I think the judge, despite what we are hearing from the media, may have done her job well.
Support the man, not the drunk-driving killer, who also happened to BE the man. Right?
Eight days after he was locked up for manslaughter as a result of being drunk at the wheel in a car accident that took the life of a team mate, Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent was allowed on the sidelines with his team during its game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Brent’s teammates had requested that he be present to show their support, and apparently this had the blessing of Jerry Brown’s mother, whose deceased son was the victim in the crash.
ESPN commentator Dan Graziano took to his keyboard to pronounce the Cowboys public embrace of a player charged with killing someone while driving drunk misguided and wrong: Continue reading
Rep. Marino just got bumped to second place. Here is the Republican Montana state rep (also bar owner) Alan Hale—no relation, presumably, to the actor who played the Skipper on “Gilligan’s Island,’ or his almost identical and more versatile, father, Alan Hale, Sr., who played Little John to Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood in the MGM classic film—extolling the virtues of drunk driving.
Here are some ethics issues to ponder from the recent news and around the Web:
- Who says it pays to be ethical? The astounding insistence, under oath, by Goldman Sachs executives that they had done nothing wrong in selling admittedly “crummy” investment products to clients while using the company’s own money to bet that the same products would fail will not be sufficiently punished or contradicted by the S.E.C.’s cynical cash settlement of its suit against the firm. For a $500 million penalty, Goldman Sachs is off the hook for the equivalent of four days’ income, as the Obama Administration claims to the unsophisticated public (“Isn’t $500 million a lot of money?”) that it is “getting tough” with Wall Street. The fact is that Goldman Sachs’ unethical maneuvers paid off handsomely, and nothing has happened that will discourage it from finding loopholes in another set of regulations and making another killing while deceiving investors legally and, by the Bizarro World ethics of the investment world, “ethically.” You can read a perceptive analysis here. Continue reading