Archive for August, 2008

Lake County Sheriff Gets It

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the sheriff of Lake County intentionally spent some time in his jail so that he could “better understand inmates and draw attention to the jail’s anti-recidivism efforts.”  He would also like to see Illinois’ prison system do a better job of rehabilitating inmates.

After a week in his own jail, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran on Wednesday tried to shift attention from himself to problems in the state prison system.

“I’m not playing this off like I’m some suffering saint,” he said
[. . . .]

Instead, the focus should be on improving programs for inmates so they don’t commit more crimes when they are released, said Curran, who has said the Illinois Department of Corrections holds inmates like “caged animals” in conditions that only make them hardened criminals. [more]

I am glad to see a sheriff publicly take a position like this.  Our current prison system isn’t working good enough; we need to increase the amount of counseling, treatment, education, and training in our prisons.  If we did, it could make a difference. Of course, the government can’t solve all our problems, but it does have a role to play.

To my Christian brothers and sisters out there, let me add an additional point or two.  Christ is in the redemption business; he approves of people’s efforts to help one another and he has a special place in his heart for society’s outcasts.  Prisoners are made in the image of God and are worth saving for that reason alone.  Furthermore,  whenever we help a prisoner get his life straightened out, we minister to Christ himself.

Kentucky Prosecutor Lacks Funny Bone

I like Kentucky.  It is a beautiful state.  I also like a good joke, but I will be cautious before I tell a joke in Kentucky —  at least one prosecutor there has no sense of humor.  Recently, a Kentucky politician, Otis Hensley, landed an all-inclusive stay in a county jail for jesting about trading a hog for a couple of young girls.  According to the AP:

The ordeal began last week when Hensley’s wife sent him to a local grocery store to buy ground beef. While there, Hensley encountered a woman with her two nieces, ages 11 and 13. “I offered to trade her a fattening hog for those girls,” Hensley said. “I meant it as a joke. I’ve said it a million times. Most people get a kick out of it.”

The woman didn’t laugh. Instead, the family obtained a warrant for Hensley’s arrest from the local prosecutor, claiming the comment was intended to entice the children into illegal sexual activity.

[ . . .]

Appalachian scholar Loyal Jones said the jest Hensley made has been around for generations and actually is intended as a compliment.

The State eventually caught the punchline and dismissed the charges.

I don’t want to see this story repeated in Illinois, so I have listed some things I have heard people say about young children.  Explanations follow each quip.  If any prosecutors out there need additional explanation, they should feel free to contact me.

She’s so adorable . . . I could take her home with me. The person doesn’t actually want to take the child home.  The person has bills to pay and kids of her own to feed and take care of.   All the person is doing is paying a compliment about the child to the child’s parents.  The person is not communicating an intent to kidnap the child.

She’s so cute . . . I could just eat her up. The person is not a cannibal.  The person has no intention of actually eating the child.  Again, the person is paying a compliment about the child to the child’s parents.

That boy is spoiled rotten.  The child is not decomposing.  The person is merely commenting that the child has received so much attention that it has had a negative impact on his personality.  There is no need to start a child-abuse investigation.

When Is It Not a Crime for a Minor to Drink?

In Illinois, it is not a crime for a minor to drink alcohol in two different circumstances.

  • The minor drinks the alcohol as part of a religious service.
  • The minor drinks the alcohol at home while being supervised by the minor’s parents.

235 ILCS 5/6-20(g).

Oh Yeah!

This Family Guy clip cracks me up every single time I watch it. Seriously.

Michael Phelps: My Eyes Deceived Me

Did you watch Michael Phelps win his seventh gold medal of the Beijing Olympics? If you did, you saw Phelps beat Milorad Cavic by one-hundredth of a second. Or did you? I watched the event live and I was convinced that Phelps actually came in second. But, the talking heads on TV eventually changed my mind; the cameras and other technology at the event verified that Phelps was the winner.

What’s the moral of this story? An eyewitness can be sincere, but yet dead wrong.

How Many Innocent People Enter Guilty Pleas?

Victoria Osteen, wife of televangelist Joel Osteen, is a defendant in a civil lawsuit that is currently being tried in Houston. According to the AP, the lawsuit stems from a fit Victoria allegedly threw “when a spill on the arm rest of [Victoria’s] first-class seat was not quickly cleaned up.”

While I initially read the story out of curiosity to learn more about a pastor’s wife gone wild, the impetus for this post is the portion of the AP story that says that Osteen paid an FAA fine due to the incident, but claimed that she did not do anything to deserve the fine:

The Federal Aviation Administration fined Victoria Osteen $3,000 for interfering with a crew member. The Osteens said they did not want to pay the fine but thought it would be the best way to put the incident behind them even though they felt they did nothing wrong. [More]

I have no opinion regarding whether Victoria Osteen should win her lawsuit, but if she didn’t do anything wrong, I am not surprised she paid the fine. In the criminal world, defendants plead guilty all the time to charges they would like to fight. Some do this because they are not willing to take their chances at trial because the State’s plea offer is too good to pass up. Some do this because, like Osteen, they would rather enter guilty pleas and get on with their lives than spend lots of time getting to know a judge. Still others do it for any number of other reasons.

People are particularly susceptible to taking a plea when a minor crime is involved. For example, suppose that a guy is pulled over for speeding. After a consent search, the police find a marijuana joint. Furthermore, suppose the guy is a straight arrow and would never smoke marijuana. Where did the joint come from? The guy’s younger hippie brother borrowed the car the day before the stop; the joint is his. The State offers the straight arrow a year of judicial supervision plus certain fines, fees, and costs. Supervision means that the case can be expunged two years after a judge discharges the guy from the sentence of supervision. The straight arrow knows that he isn’t going to do anything to jeopardize his eligibility for expungement and he has the money to pay the fines. He decides to plead guilty because he fears that if he goes to trial and is found guilty, the judge will punish him for going to trial by not sentencing him to judicial supervision.

So, how many innocent people enter guilty pleas to charges filed against them? Like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.

UPDATE: Osteen wins.

BUSTED: The Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police Encounters

Jonathan Katz, a DC area criminal-defense lawyer and the author of the Underdog weblog, is encouraging others to spread the word about BUSTED: The Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police Encounters. This is an instructional video produced by the Flex Your Rights Foundation. In the video, it teaches citizens how to respond to police encounters such as when a person is pulled over while driving. The film uses actors in situations similar to what people in the real world might find themselves in, so the film is fun to watch. With that said, there is a bit of a cheese factor with the video, however, the information in the video is good and the video is fun to watch despite a little cheesiness.

You can watch the film free by clicking here. You can also order it by clicking here.

Jeremy J. Richey, Attorney at Law
© Jeremy J. Richey and The East Central Illinois Criminal Law & DUI Weblog, 2008-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.