I had a hearing in Waterloo on Thursday in the case where we are attempting to reduce a sentence from 100 years to 50 years. It would appear that we may succeed. The Black Hawk County Attorney informed me that if we do succeed, he will refer the case to the U.S. District Attorney's office in the Northern District of Iowa. I have had two experiences recently with prosecutors who simply refuse to compromise and who have policies and personalities to fit. When you deal with prosecutors who obviously take what they do personally and any attempt to fight is looked at as a serious offense of itself, the defendant can be in a no-win situation. The prosecutorial view is that we have made up our mind and you take what we offer you or it will be worse. You can either rot in prison for the next 20 years or you can rot in prison until you are dead. And, this is a drug case where there are no victims-where all involved are doing so voluntarily and where the defendant has no previous criminal history. My question is how does a person come to perceive that this amount of time in prison is an appropriate remedy for a victimless crime.
The usual argument you hear is that drugs ruin lives. My response to that is: Prison doesn't? I would suggest that a prison sentence of either 100 or 50 years ruins a life. We have decided that the defendant is expendable and we will put him in a cage for the rest of his life removing him from society. Out of sight, out of mind. This country has plenty of people--those we don't want around, we will put in prison and forget about. There are plenty of replacements.
20 October 2010
Judge Mott's court was quick for me. I continued most everything for the reason of the Federal Public Defender's brown bag lunch with Judge Pratt. Judge Pratt seems quite at ease with lawyers which is not always the case with the judiciary. We really didn't learn much other than he thinks there should be more trials and more voir dire by the attorneys. I agree on both counts and will do more voir dire if I ever get back to trial in federal court.