Thursday, September 12, 2002

This Is Really Troubling...

I was wandering around the net, looking for a gun belt, and I ran into a very disturbing web page titled, "The Railroading of My Son Larry." My first reaction was, "Loons." The article was poorly organized and written, and unsurprisingly, no parent wants to believe that their child is a monster.

But then I read the five part series that appeared in Wired magazine, starting with this article, and now I am very disturbed. To put it bluntly, files on a computer are among the easiest items to fudge, change date stamps, etc. Once a computer ends up in the hands of the prosecutors, you are pretty much dependent on their honesty and competence for what happens to that computer--and in this case, it would appear that Mr. Stupid and Mr. Dishonest got together to frame Larry Benedict. At a minimum, no jury with a lick of sense would convict in such a case. (Well, they might convict the prosecutor.)

Of course, no jury will need to convict in this case. After six years, $200,000 in legal bills, loss of his job and his wife, Mr. Benedict went ahead and pleaded no contest in exchange for a promise of a light sentence--which promise was apparently not kept by the prosecutors.

Prosecutions for child pornography are a very good thing, assuming that you have a strong case. This case smells so bad that the prosecutors should have dropped it.

For a very long time, I have been uncomfortable with plea bargains. If someone is really guilty, take it to trial. Putting an innocent person in a position where they have to decide whether to risk 20 years in prison if they plead innocent, or six months in jail by pleading guilty to a crime that they didn't commit, forces an immoral choice. Why? Because it asks an innocent person to lie to the court by pleading guilty.

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