Sunday, January 20, 2008

How Did I miss This?

After a brief period of sulking over the Packers game, I decided to sit down and read the rest of today's Chronicle.

Somehow, I had managed to miss the large photograph of Chuck Rosenthal and the corresponding article by Jolanda Jones. In addition, I had also missed the opinion piece written by Pat McCann.

Jolanda's article pretty much just reiterates what the media has been saying for two weeks: that the District Attorney's Office is racist. She cites different sentences for different people and states that the Office sentences Defendants harder if the Defendant is African-American. As her example, she cites a case involving Farrah Fawcett's son. I vaguely recall when that case was working its way through the 176th, but I don't recall its end result. She describes him having gotten pre-trial diversion, a rarely used type of probation that (if successfully completed) functions like a complete dismissal of a case. It requires both the District Attorney's Office's approval, as well as the Court's. I'm surprised that Brian Rains granted it in his court, given how much he dislikes probation in any form.

I do strongly dispute that I've ever seen someone getting higher recommendations on punishment based solely on their race. That's ridiculous. There are a lot of different factors that go into sentencing recommendations and race is NOT one of them. A persons' criminal history and the nature of the offense are the two primary factors. A victim's feelings regarding the offense is a secondary, although very important, factor in sentencing. In the case of Fawcett's son, I do recall that the victim of the forgery case was his grandfather, who wanted his grandson to learn a lesson, but not go to prison.

Although I think there are a lot of issues to be addressed within the District Attorney's Office, I'm downright angry at Jolanda's assertion that the Office sentences based solely on race.

As to Pat McCann's article, I think that this well-reasoned and well-written article shows why he has done such a good job of our Harris County Criminal Law ers Association. Mark Bennett is taking over in May, but he's got some big shoes to fill.

And no, the author of this blog is not Pat McCann.

This particular post is always running a little long, so I'm going to address Pat's list of questions in a separate blog.


Anonymous said...

As I recall, A JURY gave the Kingwood girls only 7 years TDC. The DAs asked for more. I also recall that the recommendations on aggravated robberies dropped after the Kingwood verdict. So, blame the jury on that one, not the DAs Office.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Good point, Anon. I don't think its fair to blame the District Attorney's Office, if the case went to trial. The jury made the decision on that one.

That case was before my time at the Office, but I remember when it happened. As I recall, it was a high publicity case that the media generally seemed to find amusing. Didn't they even make a movie based loosely on the facts? I think they did and I'm also pretty sure that the movie was a comedy.

If people think that being the victim of an Aggravated Robbery is so damn funny, maybe they should experience one for themselves.

Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

I read those comments by Jolanda Jones, and I likewise found them ignorant. I do not know very much about Jones, but I've already lost respect for her.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Jolanda means well, but she can be abrasive and alienating.
There's a reason she was the first person voted off the island when she was on Survivor.