So, the Governor of Alaska has announced a new campaign to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault. It is shame that he only listened to one side of the story. He is mistaken in his views and his polices will do nothing. Here is why. First, there is a claim that the rate of 'domestic violence' in Alaska is higher than the national average. That is probably true. For two reasons. First, as I have blogged about before, the definition of domestic violence is absurdly broad. Second, when you combine that definition of domestic violence (especially) into Native villages, basically every crime committed is a crime of 'domestic violence'. I have no doubt that in some places, actual domestic violence may be a problem. But, after three years of practice in Alaska, I just don't see it. I wonder if anyone ever said to Governor Parnell "hey Alaska defines crimes of domestic violence really, really, really broadly. Before we freak out, let's look at how many of those crimes actually involve violence"? Remember State v. Redmon for example? Man, after drinking, recklessly hits a 4 wheeler with car that belongs to his significant other. She isn't there. She doesn't even see it. But in Alaska, that is a crime of 'domestic violence'. So. I am sure that Parnell, while meaning well, listened to the folks in this picture and not anyone who does not have an interest in more cops. More cops. Always more cops. Second, he wants to fight sexual assault. Fine. Great. As a husband and father of two girls, that is fantastic. But he is doing it wrong. He wants to 'toughen penalties'. Wow. The penalty for the first time sexual assault of an adult is a presumptive 20 to 30 years. Remember how broadly sexual assault is defined too. But ok. That is probably in the purview of the Legislature, even though it is a bit nuts. Here is where Parnell is just wrong. He wants to limit plea bargaining. And the way he does that is by giving folks in Anchorage veto power over pleas. So Susan McLean or some other person in the Department of Law can simply say 'no'. But in so doing, she does not review the discovery. Talk to defense counsel. Read motions. Look at any of the evidence. Do a damned thing that I can tell except say 'no'. Even where there may be proof problems, and the local DA feels ethically obligated to reduce the charges, the Governor wants to centralize power to those who have no idea about the case. None. I suspect, and hope, that this will lead to more trials. More 'not guilty's'. Why Governor? Why? Why do "Republicans" feel the need to only hear one side? Whatever happened to Republicans who believed in less government. Give me a call Governor. I will tell you why you are mistaken and why your policies will fail. You won't save one child or one woman from being sexually assaulted and only those in the picture with you will win.

Comments

Justin T. said…
There's gotta be a separation of powers challenge in there somewhere.
Well, shit, what about the fact that it's unethical for the dept of law to make decisions whether or not to prosecute without having looked at the case? Shit.
God, just look at that assembly of mustachioed dickfaces!
Dan said…
Ben, you've got no fucking idea how the Dept of Law works.

Justin T., what are you talking about? The governor, that would be the chief executive, just set out policy guidelines and proposed legislation. How the hell is that a violation of the separation of powers doctrine?
Ummm Dan, yes I do. I have had local DA's go to Anchorage for permission to plead out BS cases. I agree there is no seperation of powers argument.
As have I. It is, at best, extremely frustrating and, at worst, downright unethical. I guess it's not a problem for the DA that is not inclined to dismiss bullshit. Those guys love this system because now they can pin the blame on Anchorage.
Justin T. said…
I didn't say it was a violation of the separation of powers doctrine. What I meant to imply was that I find it hard to believe that the chief of the executive branch can make broad policy decisions like this without eventually having undue influence on the legislature or the judiciary. Plea bargains, as you are well aware, are an integral part of the delicate balance between the 3 branches, and uprooting the whole plea bargaining system is likely to upset that balance in the end. I'm just speculating here, but I don't see someone like Parnell making a good enough decision to avoid causing problems down the road. Maybe I'm wrong. Who the hell knows?
Gloria said…
I feel for you. There are counties in Illinois where the prosecutors are under a "must prosecute" policy on domestic violence cases. They must get permission from their politician boss to dismiss one.

Combine that with police policies of viewing the 9-1-1 caller as the victim, even when the evidence overwhelmingly supports the opposite conclusion, and you have many victims prosecuted, with almost no leeway for dismissals.

The law here also supports domestic violence for non-violent actions such as touching in an insulting manner (touching a person's chest with index finger while making a point in an argument, for example).

These are some of the many times when one is thankful for the jury system. Even when the law and policies lack common sense, juries generally have plenty. :)

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