This Case Will Either Go Nowhere or Everywhere

So the writer of a “how to” guide to child molestation has been arrested in Colorado for committing a crime in Florida. That crime apparently involves him distributing “obscene” material in the state of Florida by virtue of sending an autographed copy of said book to an undercover police detective there. From what I can tell the detective asked for it, and I’m not sure how that isn’t entrapment. But whatever. This case is either going to go nowhere or everywhere. Let me explain.

It most likely goes nowhere. Most likely the judge in the case looks at this, stares at the prosecutor and says, “Are you stupid? Get this case out of my court!” There’s no legal standing what-so-ever. If this is entrapment, there certainly isn’t, but even if it’s not entrapment, it’s still very clearly Constitutionally protected free speech. Yeah, the guy is writing a how-to guide to do something illegal (apparently. I haven’t read it and have no plans to), but so what? Writing a guide on how to rob a bank isn’t illegal. So most likely the case gets tossed before it makes it anywhere in the court system, and if you think is this is a good law, you should hope that’s what happens.

Because if it doesn’t happen, what happens is that this case goes everywhere. If the guy goes to court and gets found guilty, then he and his lawyers will appeal. This is the sort of case the ACLU and the higher courts just love, because it’s the kind of precedent-setting case that can change laws all across the nation. There’s no way this law will stand up at the Federal level. The Supreme Court would rightly strike it down and strike it hard, because if it’s allowed to stand, it could cause all sorts of problems.

Regardless, there’s no way this man should be prosecuted for this, much less in Florida. Once he’s beaten the courts, I sincerely hope he’s able to take the Polk County Sheriff’s office for a tremendous amount of money (which Polk County will also have to spend if they plan to actually fight this case). He’ll certainly deserve it. This kind of prosecution is just wrong.

Always remember: the First Amendment doesn’t exist to protect speech you like. It’s there for the speech you hate. Because once the speech you hate can be stopped, the speech you like can be stopped, too.


The Drilling Ban

So a judge down south has blocked the six month moratorium on deep water drilling that the Obama administration wanted. Bad idea, judge. I’m fairly sure the circuit court will overturn this one.

I understand that people along the Gulf want to keep their jobs and keep drilling and such. But I think a six month period of time, during which we’ll hopefully be increasing the safety standards and going over each rig with a fine-toothed comb, isn’t a bad idea. Some people have pointed out that the oild rigs out there all passed their most recent safety inspections. Well, so do the one that’s leaking now.

Of course if we’re banning the drilling, we’d better make sure we’re providing financially for the workers affected during this time. Their pride may be wounded by going on what’s essentially welfare/unemployment, but I don’t really care about that. Their pride is less important than the long term environmental consequences of another major spill.

Oh, another quite note: yours truly is going to the Gulf in August or September. I’m going there to do research for my novel, but you can bet I’ll also be blogging a bit more about what’s going on down there. Should be fun!

A Triumph For American Secularism

So a couple days ago a US District Court said that the National Day of Prayer is un-Constitutional. The judge made the very valid point that Congress cannot mandate a National Day of Prayer any more than they could mandate a National Day of Blasphemy.

This is absolutely the correct ruling. If people wish to pray, they are more than welcome to do so, but why do they feel the need to have that action sanctioned by the government? Plus, as I’ve said numerous times, the only correct position for the government to have on religion must be one of total neutrality. We should not have “In God We Trust” on our currency, but neither should we have “There Is No God”.

I’m glad of this ruling. I hope it’s a positive sign of things to come.

Moving Farther Backwards in Pennsylvania

I wrote last month about a 12yo boy who was being charged as an adult for killing his father’s pregnant girlfriend. The kid was eleven at the time. I said at the time that he should be charged as a juvenile, because what’s the point of having a juvenile system if you can toss it aside when it makes you uncomfortable.

Well, the judge in PA who is overseeing the case doesn’t agree with that, not surprisingly. Said judge has ruled that the case can be tried in adult court where the kid faces a possible life sentence.

How quaintly barbaric.

Why not just try him as a kid, since, you know, he is. He was eleven when he supposedly pulled the trigger, and twelve now. If he were found guilty in juvenile court he’d probably stay in prison until he was 18 or 21 (depending), and then be released with an extensive amount of court ordered probation and monitoring. It’s possible he might even be able to rebuild his life and become a contributing member of society.

But tried in adult court? No, in that case he’d probably spend the next twenty or thirty years behind bars and eventually be released to be a burden on society for the next sixty years or so. This serves no purpose and is astonishingly wasteful.

The one bright spot here is that this makes a perfect situation for the kid’s lawyers to file an appeal down the line. Of course if that happens and the appeal is upheld, then it’s possible the kid might skate with no real consequences at all. Yes, in trying to punish the kid as much as possible and wreak as much revenge as we can, we might actually end up with only a year or two while the appeals sort themselves out.

Like I said before, either we have a juvenile system or we don’t. Trying a kid as an adult because we really don’t like what the kid allegedly did is not right, not proper and doesn’t serve justice or society.

Stunning News: Terrorist Convicted In Civilian Court!

In a move sure to stun and enrage conservatives everywhere, Najibullah Zazi entered a guilty plea to terrorist charges. He was convicted in a civilian court. He had a lawyer. He wasn’t tortured. He’s one of many, many people convicted in such a fashion (versus three convicted in military courts, two of which have already been released).

So to all you cynics out there, let me point out to you one simple fact: the system works.

Why Even Bother With a Juvenile System?

So in Pennsylvania a twelve-year-old boy is being charged as an adult with murdering a woman who was eight months pregnant when he was eleven. Why that’s not two charges is something I’m not clear on, as the baby was viable enough that it could’ve probably lived had a doctor been there.

Apparently the prosecutor was unable to charge him as a juvenile for some reason. If he’s found guilty, he’ll probably spend the rest of his life in prison (depending on a Supreme Court ruling expected later this year that might prevent anyone under 18 being put in prison for life).

I gotta ask at this point: why do we even bother with a juvenile justice system? It’s there because of a recognition by the courts that children don’t have fully developed brains and a fully developed sense of morals. This can apply even to teenagers. Thus we have the juvenile system.

But more and more people are finding excuses to set it aside in “extreme” cases, despite the fact that one can argue those cases are the ones where the juvenile system is most needed. Clearly if a twelve-year-old is picking up a gun (where did he get it?), and going off to shoot someone, that’s a kid with some serious mental issues and putting him into prison for the rest of his life isn’t likely to make those issues any better.

I honestly can’t think of any good reason to charge someone as an adult with a crime they committed when they were under eighteen. I know that flies against our sense of rage and revenge, but there you have it. And, yes, if this means that a kid gets off scott-free for committing a crime, well, then, so be it (though any kind of reasonably intelligent prosecutor can probably prevent that from happening).

Before you argue back tell me this: would you let a twelve-year-old drive a car? What about voting? How about living on their own? Would you favor an age of consent of twelve? Should twelve-year-olds be allowed do drink? To smoke? What about serving in the military?

Clearly no twelve-year-old should be allowed to do any of those things. Even I, as liberal as I am, would say that twelve is too young for all that. Why? Because at twelve, the brain is just not developed enough for them to have that kind of responsibility.

So why is it that after a serious crime is committed they somehow magically gain enough mental development to be charged as adults? Sorry, but it just doesn’t work.

Bottom line: this kid needs to be punished, yes. He should spend the next several years of his life undergoing intense therapy and should probably be locked away from polite society for a while. But he shouldn’t spend the rest of his life in prison for a bad choice he made when he was eleven.

On another note, any lawyers out there? If there are, answer me this: on the off chance this kid is found not-guilty, could he then petition the court to be treated as an adult in every other way? After all, they considered him an adult when it came to criminal behavior. Could he use that as a precedent?

And He Plead… *gasp!* Not Guilty!

For those of you who haven’t heard, the Undiebomber has entered a “not guilty” plea in federal court in Michigan. This fact is reported on in breathless, endless detail by the media.

In fact just about any time there’s a major situation where someone is charged with a crime the media talks about them pleading “not guilty” as though it were something really major, important and significant.

Well, sit back and let Uncle Badger clear this up for you.

When someone is charged with a crime in a court in the United States they almost always enter a “not guilty” plea. This is vital and essential if you want to have one of those things called “a trial”. If you don’t enter that plea, you go straight to sentencing. That can be somewhat inconvenient if you want to explain the circumstances behind your guilt or if you want to strike up a plea bargain.

It’s also worth noting that a finding of “not guilty” in court is not the same as saying someone is innocent. All it means is that the jury/judge didn’t find sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s an important finding, but it’s not the same as saying someone didn’t do the crime in question.

So next time you hear the news salivating over how someone plead “not guilty” remember that it only means that person wants a plea bargain or a trail. It’s standard, it’s routine and it’s nothing to get your underpants in a bunch over, especially if they’re wired to explode.