Thursday, January 27, 2011

Accidents are not crimes

The indictment of Clovis police officer Stephen Gallegos on vehicular homicide charges is a good first step toward giving the appearance of fairness. All we should demand is that there be no double standards and that we are all equals "under the law" regardless of our employer. This indictment serves the purpose adequately.

Now, how to get justice? Surprisingly, or perhaps not, were I seated on the jury that will be asked to determine his fate, I would have to return a "not guilty" verdict. It's simply the right thing to do. Accidents are not crimes and are not within the legitimate realm of the current justice system. For a real crime to exist there must have been an intent to cause harm to another person or their property. Officer Gallegos is not alleged by anyone to have intended to harm the women he collided with.

On the other hand I do think Gallegos owes restitution to the dead woman's family, and to the injured survivor of the accident. The core of any legitimate justice system must be restitution. Intentional or not, harm was caused, and this incurs a debt. The details of the restitution should be between the victims and Gallegos, and no one else. This should be a private matter that is none of my business and none of yours unless you were involved.

Of course, in the current broken incarnation of a justice system, fines and imprisonment are the most popular recourse. Imprisonment doesn't often serve the cause of justice. It can not return the dead to life, nor heal the injured, nor even repay a financial wrong. However, if that were the only restitution the victims would accept, then they should work out the details of who will pay for his imprisonment. The most fair solution in that case would be for Gallegos to pay for his own upkeep, perhaps with help from his family, friends, and supporters. To make "the taxpayers" foot the bill is not justice. Two wrongs never make a right.

The same goes for the practice of levying a fine. The State (or any political subdivisions thereof) are not the victim here, and are owed nothing. Fines are simply another "tax" that goes to feed the beast without helping those who have been injured. Most of the time when fines are collected there was never any harm to anyone anyway, but merely the violation of some counterfeit substitute for a law that attempts to regulate something other than aggression or theft. Once again, this has no relation to real justice.

I can only hope any jury that is seated in Officer Gallegos' case, or any other case, keeps these things in mind while deliberating, and also remembers their historical duty and obligation to judge not only the facts of the case, but the legitimacy of the "law" that is being used against the defendant, regardless of the instructions of the court. Doing so would set Stephen Gallegos free. ( is an excellent resource for jury education.)

This was to be my weekly Clovis News Journal column, but was rejected due to it being seen as an attempt to influence potential jurors in a local case. So there will be no CNJ column from me this week as the deadline had already passed when I was informed of the decision. What this means for me is that I am going to be short 25% of my pay this month. Therefore if anyone feels inclined to help me make up the shortfall this month, I would be grateful. Donate?

1 comment:

  1. God forbid the newspaper should be involved in educating the public. It prefers to report their woeful stupidity. I once asked why they were not reporting on the communist takeover of America. They told me it wasn't news. I was reminded how our forefathers used newspaper media to inform and educate the public on the benefits of a republic verses a democracy. I assume the owner of a newspaper should be able to print whatever he likes as long as it is not untrue. Thanks for the link.