"You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty-six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. Then I read your statement. If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. Assault is not an accident. This is not a story of another drunk college hookup with poor decision making. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused." (From the victim impact statement of Emily Doe)
One of the first things you learn as a police officer is to never get upset or angry over court rulings. It is taught in the police academy and reinforced on the job.
You did your job, arrested the bad guy. The prosecutor does their job, charging or indicting the bad guy. Defense lawyers do their job, trying to get the bad guy off. Judges do their jobs, tossing or accepting the charges, setting a trial date, hearing the case with or without a jury, pronouncing judgement, and if the defendant is guilty, pronouncing sentencing.
No one ever said the judicial system is fair. You usually accept the outcome and move on. There are plenty more bad guys to grab and put through the system. Sometimes it gets so bad it is like catch and release fishing.
Once in a while, a case screams not only of unfairness but injustice. It is a justice failure. It is so abhorrent a spotlight must be put on it.
The case of Stanford rapist, Brock Turner, is one.
"The punishment does not fit the crime." That is what the prosecutor said after the judge, Aaron Persky, sentenced Turner to a mere six months in prison, probation, and registering as a sex offender for the rape he was found guilty of.
After hearing what is described as the "searing" twelve page victim statement, considering the probation report, especially the rapist's interview with the probation officer, and letters from Turner's family and supporters, the judge handed down a measly sentence for rape.
Turner's father dismissed the sexual assault as, "20 minutes of action". How cold is that?
The judge's reasoning complemented the pleas of the family. "A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him..."
Evidently, the crime of rape had no severe impact on the victim in the jurist's eyes.
Judges have wide latitude in sentencing. Some take great advantage of their privilege. Others take a narrower view, trying to balance justice with mercy. Some judges are harsh. They are known as hanging judges. They sentence people to the maximum allowed by law.
It would be easy to say Judge Persky is a compassionate bleeding heart or a gullible jurist who committed human error. It is also easy to accuse the judge of being merciful to a criminal who is a good athlete at Stanford. The judge is a former Stanford athlete. The old boys club and all that.
Unless and until the judge explains his decision more fully, the public he serves will never know what thought process went into handing down such a lenient sentence. One other privilege jurists have, they do not have to explain their actions. They are immune from transparency and accountability.
Judge Persky will remain on the bench meting out justice as he sees fit. Brock Turner will do about three months of his six month sentence, maybe less. Then his life will go on. Maybe he will be able to eat his favorite food, steak, again. His father will be so happy.
The victim will continue to live with her trauma. She will relive it when Turner is released and the news media reports on it. She will probably relive it her whole life.
Had judge Persky sentenced Turner to the six years the prosecutor recommended, little would be said about this case. Except for the letters of recommendation by friends and family or the bone headed overindulging pleas by the father, this would be one more case where justice was served.
Justice was not served. Not for the victim. Somehow, justice was perverted. The offender became the victim, in the eyes of his family, friends, and others who wrote letters on his behalf. And, in the eyes of Judge Persky, who did not want a prison sentence to have a "severe impact" on Brock Turner.
What makes all this worse, this could happen again. Since mandatory sentencing fell out of favor, no laws will be passed for the mandatory sentencing of sexual predators. Judges will retain their latitude to mete out justice or mercy as they see fit.
While we can shine a harsh light on this particular case, we must remember that similar actions are taken in courtrooms across this nation. Judges refuse to see victims as victims. They see criminals as victims or potential victims of society if they impose harsh justice.
Contrary to the father's assertion, nothing good will come out of this lenient sentence. Society will not be made better when Brock Turner is released. There will be no benefit except to the Turner family. They will get their little boy back.
It is reported the family hired a lawyer of last resort to file an appeal of the conviction. These people have no shame or social redeeming value. They are victims of their own self entitlement.
Emily Doe, the victim, had no one in her corner. No one spoke for her. No overindulging family members, friends, acquaintances, no one. She stood up and spoke for herself. Her twelve page letter is a profile in courage.
If anyone can benefit society, it will be Emily Doe.
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