Tag Archives: sentencing

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/16/2017

 Isn’t it a lovely morning?

1. This isn’t the first post of the day: I woke up around 4 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep (“As My Guitar Gently Weeps” was playing over and over in my head, don’t ask me why, and images from the Red Sox 16 inning loss to the Yankees was giving me the night terrors), so I went to the office and wrote this post. Charlie Green, critic and friend, properly pointed out that my comment in passing that incorrectly alluded to rumors about Joseph P. Kennedy being a bootlegger was exactly what my  post was criticizing David Brooks for doing in his attack on the entire Trump family, going back generations, a truly ugly op-ed.

What I was sorely tempted to say was that I’m just an ethics blogger, trying to focus attention on ethics standards in a daily blog from which I receive no income and intangible professional benefits if any. I mange to get 2000-4000 words published every 24 hours, working in short bursts while I try to earn a living, run a business, do research and be as good a father and husband as I can be. I have no editors, no researchers (except generous volunteers) and my blog is not a “paper of record” for journalists, seen by millions and paid for by subscribers. Is it really fair to hold Ethics Alarms to the same standards as David Brooks and the New York Times?

Make no mistake: my own standards are that no typo, no misstated fact, no misleading argument, are acceptable on an ethics blog, or any blog, or anything published on the web. Charles was right: using an unproven accusation of long-standing (Until Charles flagged it, I thought the bootlegging charge was a matter of public record) undermines my case against Brooks. Nonetheless, Brooks has absolutely no excuse. This is all he does, he has all week to produce a column or two, and he has a staff.

I’ve also corrected my error within hours of making it. What are the chances that Brooks and the Times will ever admit that they intentionally impugned the character of Fred Trump using rumors and innuendo as part of their ongoing effort to demonize the President of the United States?

My guess: Zero.

2. The big story this morning appears to be O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing. Will he be paroled and released after serving just nine years of the three-decade sentence he received for his participation in a burglary? Assuming that it is true that O.J., now 70 and unlikely to stab any more ex-wives and innocent bystanders to death, has been a model prisoner, yes, that would be the ethical result. O.J. got away with a double murder—he will not be asked at the hearing, “Once you’re out, can we assume that you’ll renew your relentless hunt for the real killer?”—but he wasn’t put in prison for that crime. Officially, he’s innocent. His fellow burglars were all put on probation, while the judge threw the book at the former football star, presumably to exact a measure of societal revenge for Nicole and Ron. The sentence was unethical. I don’t feel sorry for O.J. at all; I’m glad he had to serve hard time, just as I would have been happy if he had been squashed by a meteor. Justice, however, demands that he go free.

The bastard. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Education, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture

Comment Of The Day: “The Most Unethical Sentencing Fallacy Of All: Lavinia Woodward Gets “The King’s Pass”

I am almost caught up on my backlog of Comments of the Day!

This one, by multiple COTDs author Humble Talent, is really two; I’m taking the liberty of combining his later explication with the original comment, as they follow as the night follows day. The topic is bias and double standards in the criminal justice system, and hold on to your hat.

Here is Humble Talent’s 2-for 1 Comment of the Day on the post, “The Most Unethical Sentencing Fallacy Of All: Lavinia Woodward Gets “The King’s Pass”:

You know, every now and again when I’m feeling adventurous, I go to a place I think will have a whole lot of people that don’t think like me and poke at their sacred cows. You meet all kinds of people, and recently, I was given probably one of the better answers to a gender/race issue from the other side yet.

The original fact pattern is that racial activists will cite disparate impact as a problem at every stage of an interaction with the legal system. Black people are more likely to be pulled over, more likely to be arrested, more likely to be charged, more likely to be convicted, and more likely to receive harsher sentences… All for the same stimulus. All of this, by the way, is true. It doesn’t account for the five-fold disparity between the black and white prison population on a per capita basis, but it is a thumb on the scale.

The juxtaposition is that the disparity between men and women in the justice system is about six times that of the racial disparity I just described. Men are more likely to be pulled over, more likely to be arrested, more likely to be charged, more likely to be convicted, and more likely to receive harsher sentences… All for the same stimulus. Sonja Starr wrote extensively on this, and despite some of her methodology being questioned, there’s general consensus that she was on to something.

So the question is that if someone is deeply concerned about inequality, that they are genuinely interested in justice for everyone, why wouldn’t you be just as, if not more concerned with the gender disparity, than the racial one? Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Research and Scholarship, Rights

Helpful Hint: When A Man Proposes Marriage This Unethically, The Right Answer Is NO

Wow. What a classy proposal!

In Ohio, romantic Kyle Stump, 23, painted: “Michelle Marry Me. I Love You” and a heart—Awwwww!—- in  red letters on the side of a building in the city-owned shopping mall at Lake Sheffield, Ohio. His proposal covered 30 feet of wall space.

His girl friend Michelle Astorino still missed it until Stump took her to the building one night with a flashlight.  She said “yes,” the fool. Then police arrested him based on a tip, and matched the handwriting on the wall to a form Stump had filled out in 2012.

Did you know they tried to catch Jack The Ripper the same way? But I digress.

Stump pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief  and was sentenced to 60 days in jail with a $500 fine. The jail term was suspended as was most of the fine, but Romeo will have to pay $332 to sandblast the wall clean, and has to perform 80 hours of community service.

“They don’t have to be so hard on me,” Stump complained to the media. If I were the judge, that comment would be enough to make me reinstate the jail time and the full fine.

He says the legal setback means he’ll have to buy an engagement ring on an installment plan. Did I already say “Awwww!”?

“We’ve basically just brushed it off and are excited about our engagement,” Michelle told “Inside Edition.” “It’s still a crime, we understand that, but, I mean, it’s not that serious.”

No, you moron, in fact defacing public property or any property is very serious, and it doesn’t matter if you’re defacing it with “Hitler Rocks!” or “Give Peace A Chance.” It’s destruction of property, wastes scarce public funds,  shows disrespect to your neighbors and community, and proves your honey-bunny has the basic ethics comprehension of a terrier.

Well, at least it’s a good match..

Both of you are idiots.

Please don’t have kids.

________________________

Pointer: Fred

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Romance and Relationships

Ethics Quiz: Punishing The 12-Year-Old Killer

debrow

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?

Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Family, History, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

From The Ethics Alarms Double Standard Files: A Brock Turner Sentence For A Predator Teacher, And Everyone Shrugs

The predator teacher, who is much more deserving of a light sentence than Brock Turner, who should be killed, and the judge too, come to think of it...

The predator teacher, who is much more deserving of a light sentence than Brock Turner, who should be killed, and that judge too, come to think of it…

The lenient sentence Judge Aaron Persky handed to Stanford student Brock Turner for raping a drunken co-ed  enraged the social media and the public conscience, resulting in thousands of op-eds, protests from feminists and rape-culture activists, petitions, a recall effort, and most devastating of all, an Ethics Alarms post.

Last week, a 33-year old high school teacher named Lindsay Himmelspach pleaded guilty to repeatedly having sex with two minor students at the high school, and received the almost the identical sentence, from another California judge, as Turner. Himmelspach recieved three years probation and four months in jail.

I’m listening, but I hear no screams of outrage.

Huh.

The judge, Butte County Superior Court Judge James Reilley, administered the equivalent rap on the wrist that her Santa Clara colleague did on Turner because Himmelspach had no prior criminal record, she expressed remorse, and somehow he concluded that she’d never do such a thing again. (I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact the she is hot, and the judge was thinking, “Those lucky bastards!”) Indeed, the judge didn’t even require the predator teacher to register as a sex offender, at least not yet. He’s keeping an open mind, and will decide after a separate hearing.

Hello?

Social media?

Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Social Media, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky

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.

For rape.

I do not find the Judge’s reasoning persuasive. His arguments were.. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Law & Law Enforcement

Indeed He Deserved All Of It, But Denny Hastert’s Sentencing Hearing Was A Legal And Ethical Travesty

Hastert sentencing

“I am deeply ashamed to be standing here,” former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert  told a judge yesterday at his sentencing hearing.  “I know why I am here … I mistreated some of the athletes that I coached.”

Wait…what? That’s not why Hastert was in court at all. He was before a judge for one reason: he violated banking laws and lied to the F.B.I.. The fact that he was a sexual predator and molested members of the wrestling team he coached many years ago is not the reason he was in court. It couldn’t be. The statute of limitations on all of those crimes, horrible crimes all, had expired. Hastert couldn’t be charged, tried or convicted of any of them.

I don’t understand why this hasn’t been the focus of the coverage of Hastert’s ordeal yesterday. Why did the judge think it was appropriate to “angrily” lecture him about his crimes that in the eyes of the law he must be considered innocent of by the legal system, because he cannot be found guilty of these crimes any more?

“‘If Denny Hastert could do it, anyone could do it,'” U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin said. “Nothing is more stunning than to have the words ‘serial child molester’ and ‘speaker of the House’ in the same sentence.” Well, that’s very interesting, Judge. If  the late Ted Kennedy had been before you to be sentenced for, say, just a wild hypothetical, a drunk driving charge, would you lecture him about letting Mary Jo Kopechne drown in his car?

I may have missed it, but when O.J. Simpson was sentenced for burglary, I don’t recall the judge asking him to confess to murdering Nicole and Ron…did that happen?

Earlier this month, the judge and prosecutors allowed the trial to become a proxy trial for a crime that wasn’t on the docket, with prosecutors hammering at graphic details about the sex-abuse, describing how Hastert would sit in a recliner in the locker room with a direct view of the showers. The victims, prosecutors said, were boys between 14 and 17. Hastert was in his 20s and 30s. This is relevant to the charges against Hastert how, exactly? Answer: They aren’t. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement