Comments: With All Due Respect, Your Honor, You're a Thug

the times story says that Holle didn't take a plea bargain, and they dont exactly say why.

Mr. Holle was the only one of the five men charged with murdering Jessica Snyder who was offered a plea bargain, one that might have led to 10 years in prison.

“I did so because he was not as culpable as the others,” said Mr. Rimmer, the prosecutor.

Mr. Holle, who rejected the deal, has spent some time thinking about the felony murder rule.


but really, that whole story is twenty kinds of fucked up.


Posted by almostinfamous at December 8, 2007 03:22 AM

A horrible story.

Yet no matter how many outrageous, unbelievably brutal, State-sponsored injustices one cites, mention Police State and the typical reactions range from blank stares to outright hostility.

The drug war laid the foundation for the casual abandonment of The Constitution we have now accepted as a permanent feature of our society. [Surely, no one still believes the ruling class has any intention of reanimating it.] Even now, as a bloc, liberals still don't want to be associated with reforming drug laws - nor do they tend to make the connection between a half-century of increasingly inhumane drug policy and the lawless government (free to conduct itself without any meaningful restraints whatsoever) we have accepted without even a whisper of rebellion.

There were never any halcyon days of the American judicial system, but the prison industrial complex and the staggering incarceration rates it demands are ample evidence that we've been on the wrong path for a long, long time.

Justice shmustice. Fear and malice are the only enduring American principles.

* * * * *

By the way, Bernard, how odd that you mentioned M. I just told someone - less than five minutes before reading your post - that M is one of my favorite films. I don't own it and haven't seen it in years. I'll have to watch it again soon.

Posted by Arvin Hill at December 8, 2007 03:48 AM

So, right after her daughter's funeral, Mrs Snyder was sentenced to three years in prison for drug possession.

My god. When I first read this story in the Times I was incredulous and still am. What in the hell type of horror show have we, as a country, become?

Posted by electrolite at December 8, 2007 04:06 AM

So, right after her daughter's funeral, Mrs Snyder was sentenced to three years in prison for drug possession.

My god. When I first read this story in the Times I was incredulous and still am. What in the hell type of horror show have we, as a country, become?

Posted by electrolite at December 8, 2007 04:06 AM

So, right after her daughter's funeral, Mrs Snyder was sentenced to three years in prison for drug possession.

My god. When I first read this story in the Times I was incredulous and still am. What in the hell type of horror show have we, as a country, become?

Posted by electrolite at December 8, 2007 04:07 AM

Apologize for the triple post (damn sluggish Mac - work harder!)

Posted by electrolite at December 8, 2007 04:13 AM

Terry Snyder, whose daughter Jessica was the victim in Mr. Holle’s case, said Mr. Holle’s conduct was as blameworthy as that of the man who shattered her skull.

And here we have an excellent illustration of why no sane system of justice depends on the victim or their surviving family dispensing it. Such a system is insane. But, of course, we seem to have adopted the same "well, somebody has to pay!" attitude that a grieving family has.

The state should have no interest in revenge. Failing that, the state should aspire to have no interest in revenge. Here, the state appears to be acting as a surrogate for the family's grief and revenge. What a terrible mess.

Posted by grendelkhan at December 8, 2007 06:39 AM

Oh, and this guy should sure as hell know better.

“Whether or not the felony murder rule can result in disproportionate justice is a matter of opinion,” Mr. Rimmer said. “The father of Jessica Snyder does not think so.”

Yes, because a grieving parent is a good measure for describing whether impartial justice has been carried out. Somebody needs to go back to law school.

Posted by grendelkhan at December 8, 2007 06:42 AM

the times story says that Holle didn't take a plea bargain, and they dont exactly say why.

In order to accept a plea bargain, one has to plead guilty to a crime.  I don't know this as a fact, but I feel that I can safely assume that Mr. Holle made a decision not to plea guilty (and thus perjure himself) to a crime he did not commit.  There are some wonderful, admirably insane reasons to do this, but also at least one perfectly sane, strategy-based reason: on the advice of one's lawyer, when one intends to continue pursuing a not guilty verdict through the appeals process.

Posted by Dayv at December 8, 2007 09:59 AM

the times story says that Holle didn't take a plea bargain, and they dont exactly say why.

In order to accept a plea bargain, one has to plead guilty to a crime.  I don't know this as a fact, but I feel that I can safely assume that Mr. Holle made a decision not to plea guilty (and thus perjure himself) to a crime he did not commit.  There are some wonderful, admirably insane reasons to do this, but also at least one perfectly sane, strategy-based reason: on the advice of one's lawyer, when one intends to continue pursuing a not guilty verdict through the appeals process.

That, or he didn't think the court would be dumb enough to find him guilty, no matter how rabid and insane the prosecutor.  You have to accept a plea bargain when you don't yet know the verdict of an actual trial.

Posted by Dayv at December 8, 2007 10:00 AM

Woops, thought I hit stop soon enough to keep getting that unfinished comment through

Posted by Dayv at December 8, 2007 10:03 AM

Allow mea little nitpicking here. The NYT story contains this titillating bit: Holle made statements to the police "...in which he seemed to admit knowing about the burglary..."
Now, first, what is that "seemed" about? Did he admit to knowing or didn't he?
More important, did he know his car was going to be used to commit a crime as he lent it to his friends, or did they tell him what they used his car for after?
It seems to me, that this is not unimportant, granted the big ugly issues, legal and societal, the case raises.

Posted by donescobar at December 8, 2007 10:05 AM

I read this story with a mixture of revulsion and disbelief, and thankfulness that as a European I am not subject to America's increasingly cruel, vengeful and insane «justice» system.
Shouldn't Americans wonder why it is that the inhuman harshness of their laws doesn't lead to the lowest crime levels in the world?

Posted by Jose Ferreira at December 8, 2007 10:46 AM

This is why when I go to the video store, I watch all those movies starring Robert Mitchum and Richard Widmark and Dana Andrews. That's just the reflection of the current reality.

Posted by En Ming Hee at December 8, 2007 11:01 AM

What a horrible story.

Though nowhere even remotely as bad as that, how's this:

I found my neighbors kids creating a system of dirt bike trails on my property. I go up to the neighbor, who I know well enough to talk to occasionally, and tell him it's got to stop. He gets very angry, goes into a rage and attacks me. I thought he was going to murder me. He lied to the police and they arrest me.

To say the least, I don't trust authority, or pretty much anyone anymore outside of my small group of friends.

Posted by a bad system at December 8, 2007 11:13 AM

In the USofA, 'justice' is and always has been a metaphor implying the 'satisfactory' punishment of the malefactor. "Penology" comes from the idea of a "penalty." It is a system which now will never change, because far too many interest groups draw power from the penal structures. Too much money, too much power, too little accountability. Too many Murkins (wrongly) believe they'll never come acropper of the law.

When i was a professor, i always found an occasion and a reason to challenge my students to answer or rebut the following propositions: "Resolved: Police "keep the peace," meaning primarily they protect the interests of the propertied, monied class against all comers. They are doing what is expected of them and what they are payed to, when they treat outsiders unfairly, when they abuse their power, when they unjustly accuse, prosecute, and imprison the poor and disempowered. That is what the communities they serve WANT them to do. If it weren't true, they wouldn't do it.

"Therefore, all members of the middle and upper classes should experience, first-hand, a full-on, no-holds-barred, guns-drawn, "assume-the-fucking-position-motherfucker" bust at the hands of good cops on a bad day, or bad cops any day.

Posted by konopelli/wgg at December 8, 2007 02:02 PM

it sounds like a story from the deep south(our deep south), but needless to say that mentality can exist anywhere.

(incidentally, M is in the public domain and there are places like the internet archive where you can download it fer free.)

Posted by jonathan versen at December 8, 2007 02:05 PM

Ted: You ask a very good question. I have zero legal expertise and I can't comment on the issue of plea bargain, but if some commenter wants to weigh in on that, I'd love to hear the arguments.

Re game theory, there are areas of economics where it's very useful but I am leery about political philosophers who use math to add authority to their opinions abd present as scientific arguments what are in fact moral judgments. Math as the last refuge of the scoundrel.


In the prisoner's dilemma, society would look at an iterated form of the game (how much crime it deters) while a defendant would focus on the one-shot version (Mr Holle won't get to play it again). The math of the game is quite different in these 2 cases and arbitration can only be, in the end, a moral judgment (not a scientific one).

Re. game theory, lots of local anecdotes to tell (very much a princeton story) -- maybe I'll do a post about it one of these days.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at December 8, 2007 02:37 PM

EVERY CHARGE should be heard by a JURY, EVEN IF ACCOMPANIED BY A GUILTY PLEA. A guilty plea is NOT necessarily the TRUTH as some will wrongly plead guilty through verbal coersion, fear, and beatings and a JURY NEEDS to hear EVERYTHING. This way WE will have a hope of finding JUSTICE and not business as usual, which has gotten US to THIS POINT.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 8, 2007 07:32 PM

There aren't enough facepalms in the world to do justice to what I'm feeling right now.

Posted by wareq at December 8, 2007 08:46 PM

thanks for the explanation, Dayv. makes it much more clear now.

Posted by almostinfamous at December 8, 2007 11:41 PM

The object of "Justice" in the USer system is NOT "Truth," but gaining convictions and inflicting punishment.
Period.

Posted by konopelli/wgg at December 9, 2007 09:10 AM

Crime is twofold source of titillation for a bloodthirsty American electorate: once when it is commited, and a second time when someone suffers barbarous punishment for it.
The fact that the punished person may be innocent is immaterial to the entertainment value of the whole process.

Posted by Jose Ferreira at December 9, 2007 06:24 PM

Recently missus charley, m.d. and self watched a DVD of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" (this was the 1952 film, although the more recent version with Rupert Everett is also very enjoyable.) It is in this play that Wilde observed "The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means."

I have had the experience, more than once, of being in in the power of the so-called "criminal justice system". No one beat me, and the judges who dealt with me were humane and reasonable. I am, as it happens, a middle class male white person - this can be an advantage sometimes. The crimes of which I was accused (and of which I was guilty - no question about it - not to mention all the other crimes I have committed for which I have never been arrested) were not very entertaining ones, either, which I am sure also helped.

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at December 10, 2007 10:43 AM