Tag Archives: juvenile justice
Luke Heimlich is a rising college baseball star pitcher at Oregon State, and may well have a future in Major League Baseball. There is a problem though: Heimlich, 22, pleaded guilty to sexually molesting his 6-year-old niece when he was 15 years old. The further complication: he denies that he committed the crime, which was not just one incident but a pattern over two years. He told The New York Times that he only pleaded guilty to ” for the sake of family relations.” “Nothing ever happened,” he told the paper. The girl’s mother, however, says there is no question that he was guilty.
I’m tempted to say that it’s no wonder he pleaded guilty when he was 16. One of the charges was dropped and he was placed on two years’ probation, took court-ordered classes and had to register for five years as a Level 1 sex offender, which in the state of Washington means a low risk to the community. He had to write a letter apologizing to his niece. After five years, the records were expunged and he no longer has to register as a sex offender. What a deal!
Last year story was broken by the newsmedia, and now there is a controversy over whether Heinlich should be allowed to play college baseball. Brenda Tracy, a victims’ rights activists, asked the Times,
“What kind of message does that send our kids?” she asked. “We have now normalized this behavior. The feeling at Oregon State right now is that our team is winning, so they’ve moved on. What does that say to the little girl in this case? What does it say to all survivors?”
Then there is my concern: what does it say about this man’s character that he pleaded guilty to get a lenient deal, and now blandly says that he was lying? I’d view him as more trustworthy if he admitted the crime, was remorseful and repentant, and accepted responsibility. If he did molest the girl, and still denies it, one can hardly say that he has been rehabilitated.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:
Should Luke Heimlich be allowed to play college baseball?
I’d like to see the polling on this…
1 Oh, let’s begin the day with Roy Moore, the former Alabama judge and present wacko whom Alabama Republicans voted to represent the GOP in the 2018 U.S. Senate election, thus proving that there are a lot of deplorables in the state. As was completely predictable given his record, Moore recently told his drooling followers (after being introduced by Abraham Hamilton, Alexander Lincoln being unavailable),
“Somebody should be talking to the Supreme Court of the United States and say, ‘What gives them a right to declare that two men can get married?. . . Tell the Congress: Impeach these justices that put themselves above the Constitution. They’re judicial supremists and they should be taken off the bench.”
Comments Jonathan Turley,
So Moore believes that he should not have been removed from the bench for putting his personal religious beliefs above the Constitution, but justices should be removed if they interpretation the Constitution in a way that contradicts his religious beliefs. This, he insisted, would ‘solve the problem….such a view would violate not just fundamental principles of judicial review but it would violate the impeachment clause. As the last lead counsel in a judicial impeachment case (in defense of Judge Thomas Porteous), Moore’s view is deeply troubling. As I have previously written, the Good Behavior Clause of Article III was designed to protect the independence of the judiciary and insulate it from political pressures. It was meant as a guarantee of life tenure against precisely the type of threat that Moore is endorsing.
But it’s pointless to make genuine legal and historical arguments against someone like Moore. He’s a theocrat, a fanatic, a bigot and a demagogue. The Republican Party should endorse his opposition and campaign against Moore. This fiasco is their fault, and someone like Moore should be kept out Congress at all costs.
2. Now to someone who is, incredible as it seems, somewhat less ridiculous, this gentleman, Christopher Wilson…
No, that’s not a botched tattoo on his forehead: the blurry words are “fuck” and “sluts”, making the whole, eloquent message, “I’m a porn star. I fuck teen sluts.” This roughly translates into “Look at me! I’m an idiot!” The newspapers that refused to print the blurred words (the police had the mugshot altered) that are essential to the story, meanwhile, are telling us, “We don’t understand our profession.” The story is incomprehensible if the actual words aren’t clear, literally or figuratively. Fox News and the NY Post, for example, say, “The Cincinnati man has the words “I’m a pornstar” tattooed on his forehead” and “another vulgar message” tattooed below.” Since the issue is whether the message on his FACE is going to prejudice the jury in his trial for sexual assault, this is juvenile coverage omitting key information to avoid “giving offense.”
Ethics Alarms to the news media: Grow up.
Turley (again…he loves the tattoo stories) writes,
“The court will be left with a question of whether the tattoo is too prejudicial or whether it is unavoidable as a personal choice of the defendant….Yet, these tattoos contain an admission to the crime at issue in the trial. In the end, a judge could legitimately conclude that this falls into the category as bad choices bringing even worse consequences.”
What? First, the defendant is not charged with fucking teen sluts while acting as a porn star. That conduct could well be consensual and legal. Turley is also wrong that the judge could “legitimately” allow the jury to see his message. In both cases involving a defendant’s prejudicial tattoos, the judges agreed that they had to be made invisible, in one case using make-up… Continue reading
Texas Monthly this month has a troubling profile of Edwin Debrow, who is 37 years old, has been behind bars since he was 12, and may have to stay there until he is 52. On September 21, 1991, Debrow shot a San Antonio school teacher named Curtis Edwards in the back of the head. Edwards’ body was found sprawled across the front seat of a taxi that he drove part-time at night. Edwin, police determined, had shot Edwards during an attempted robbery. Above is the photo of the 12-year-old in custody.
Texas law, you will not be surprised to learn, allows very harsh punishment for juvenile offenders.Other states will sometimes try 12-year-olds as adults. Last year’s documentary “Beware the Slenderman” tells the strange story of Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls who attempted to stab another 12-year old girl to death in 2014. Under Wisconsin law, Weier and Geyser will be tried as adults for attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and if convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 65 years in state prison.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:
Is it ethical for society to punish children with such long prison sentences, no matter how serious the crime?
Let’s see if this sentence generates a fraction of the national attention that the so-called “affluenza” sentence did. For this is much, much worse.
Star Stanford swimmer and Olympic swimming team candidate Brock Turner was arrested in the early morning hours of Jan. 18, 2015 when two Stanford graduate students saw him on the ground, thrusting his hips atop an unconscious, partially clothed woman. They called police; Turner ran, and police chased him down Turner. In trial, Turner claimed that the woman had consented, though police found her unconscious.
The jury didn’t believe him, and convicted Turner of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. The usual sentence for sexual assault is six years in state prison. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, however, sentenced Turner to six months in county jail and three years’ probation. Turner could get out of prison after just three months.
I do not find the Judge’s reasoning persuasive. His arguments were.. Continue reading
Ethics Observations On My 2013 Ethics Observations On The “Affluenza” Sentence, Now That The Teen Sociopath Is On The Lam
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
Detroit Third Judicial Circuit Judge James Callahan sentenced 19-year-old gang member Latrez Cummings to six months in jail for his participation in the mob beating of Steve Utash, a 54-year-old white man who jumped out of his car to assist a 10-year-old African-American boy after his pick-up truck hit the child. Cummings and at least 20 others on the scene attacked Utash and beat him severely, leaving him with permanent brain damage.
Judge Callahan told Cummings that the lack of a father was what led him to his current plight. “That’s all you have needed in your life, a father, someone to discipline you, someone to beat the hell out of you when you made a mistake,” Callahan lectured Cummings. “Without the guidance of a father, being 19 years of age, I can understand how some of these problems existed in the past.” The judge added that Cummings has suffered without “somebody to beat the hell out of you when you made a mistake.” With the further rationalization, “We’ve all been 19 years of age, ” Callahan handed down the six month sentence, to be followed by probation.
The prosecutor, to her credit, went nuts. Said Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey: Continue reading