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Old 18-06-2008, 06:54   #256
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Looking at the criminal culpability of Dinius to determine the criminality of Perdock's actions is a wrong turn in the analysis. That Dinius broke criminal law is no defense to the fact that Perdock broke it too.
This is the part that really resonates with me. I know a ton of people posting in this thread are PO'd that Perdock is not charged. Maybe he should be.

Dinius was frunk, he grabbed the tiller, someone died in a "vehicle" and the drunk person gets charged.
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Old 18-06-2008, 07:59   #257
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I think it was the King of Lilliput in Gulliver's Travel who announced, " I hate justice, but I love the law!" Yes, Dinius was likely breaking the law at the time of the collision, but I fail to see how the result of that trial, no matter what the outcome, can bring justice to the family of Lynn Thornton. The failure to charge the operator of the power boat (and the owner of the sailboat if the navigation lights were indeed not operational) ensures that their loss will only be compounded by a slanted and misguided exercize of prosecutional discretion. If three people robbed a bank and a customer was killed, you could also prosecute only the getaway driver. But why would you?

Brad
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Old 18-06-2008, 10:27   #258
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I'm pleased to read Brad's comments, above, for if anyone is professionally qualified to address this matter, it's him.

For good reasons, prosecutors have discretion in making their charging decisions. Judges, too, are granted wide latitude in the pursuit of justice. So, while the District Attorney's charging decisions in the Lake County case may be within the bounds of discretion, it is the (to me) obvious conflict of interest in the DA's decision to reject charging Chief Deputy Perdock that denies justice to Ms. Thornton, and her family.

Thank you, Brad, for focusing the discussion on this point.

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Old 18-06-2008, 11:13   #259
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their loss will only be compounded by a slanted and misguided exercize of prosecutional discretion.
The term "prosecutorial discretion" refers to the fact that under American law, government prosecuting attorneys have nearly absolute and unreviewable power to choose whether or not to bring criminal charges, and what charges to bring, in cases where the evidence would justify charges. This authority provides the essential underpinning to the prevailing practice of plea bargaining, and guarantees that American prosecutors are among the most powerful of public officials. It also provides a significant opportunity for leniency and mercy in a system that is frequently marked by broad and harsh criminal laws, and, increasingly in the last decades of the twentieth century, by legislative limitations on judges' sentencing discretion.

* * *

The prosecutor thus plays a pivotal role in the administration of justice in America. To the extent that the prosecutor is the lawyer for the state, her client is not the police department or the individual victim of a crime, but society itself. As a practical matter, moreover, the prosecutor is not merely the attorney who represents society's interest in court, but also the public official whose job it is to decide, as a substantive matter, the extent of society's interest in seeking punishment. The prosecutor is thus not merely a barrister, exercising technical skill to advocate positions decided by someone else, but a significant public official, exercising political authority on behalf of the state to determine its substantive position. Consequently, the prosecutor is normally a politically responsible actor.

Prosecution: Prosecutorial Discretion - Varieties Of Discretion, Subjects Of Prosecutorial Discretion, Standards Of Prosecutorial Judgment, Controlling Prosecutorial Discretion

Power and corruption go hand in hand.
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Old 18-06-2008, 11:22   #260
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The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America. His discretion is tremendous. He can have citizens investigated and, if he is that kind of person, he can have this done to the tune of public statements and veiled or unveiled intimations... . Therein is the most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people that he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted. [A] prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone.... It is in this realm-in which the prosecutor picks some person whom he dislikes or desires to embarrass, or selects some group of unpopular persons and then looks for an offense, that the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies. It is here that law enforcement becomes personal. . . .

Prosecutorial Discretion: What's Politics Got To Do with It? | Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, The | Find Articles at BNET.com
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Old 18-06-2008, 11:25   #261
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Old 18-06-2008, 13:35   #262
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Good points all. Our system, like your own, places a great deal of discretion in the hands of the prosecutor. He or she is and must be more than merely an advocate or a party to a debate - s/he must consider and represent the interests of society as a whole. No, the prosecutor is not the lawyer for the victim; nevertheless, the rights of the victim and the right of other members of society to feel safe while engaged in lawful activities such as boating must weigh heavily into the exercize of discretion in a case such as this.

While acknowledging that I do not (and cannot) know all of the facts of this case, I can say that in my jurisdiction the office of the Crown Attorney in a particular county will not make any decisions concerning, nor be involved in the investigation into, nor the prosecution of any member of local law enforcement. As Tao so rightly points out, there is an obvious conflict of interest.

Did the D.A. in this case misuse his authority as a result of his connection with one of the parties? I cannot say. But there is an old saying that 'justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.' The very fact that this is an issue open to debate means that, whatever the case, the D.A. has undermined the appearance of justice. The case should have been referred off to another investigative agency and to another DA's office. Full stop.

Would different evidence have been collected and/or would a different decision have been made regarding the parties to be prosecuted? While we can never know with certainty, I for one have strong suspicions in that regard based upon what I do know about the case. Regardless, the fact that we will never know the answer to that fundamental question is already, in my opinion, a denial of justice to the family of the deceased and to society as a whole.

Brad
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Old 18-06-2008, 13:52   #263
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Quote:
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Good points all. Our system, like your own, places a great deal of discretion in the hands of the prosecutor. He or she is and must be more than merely an advocate or a party to a debate - s/he must consider and represent the interests of society as a whole. No, the prosecutor is not the lawyer for the victim; nevertheless, the rights of the victim and the right of other members of society to feel safe while engaged in lawful activities such as boating must weigh heavily into the exercize of discretion in a case such as this.

While acknowledging that I do not (and cannot) know all of the facts of this case, I can say that in my jurisdiction the office of the Crown Attorney in a particular county will not make any decisions concerning, nor be involved in the investigation into, nor the prosecution of any member of local law enforcement. As Tao so rightly points out, there is an obvious conflict of interest.

Did the D.A. in this case misuse his authority as a result of his connection with one of the parties? I cannot say. But there is an old saying that 'justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.' The very fact that this is an issue open to debate means that, whatever the case, the D.A. has undermined the appearance of justice. The case should have been referred off to another investigative agency and to another DA's office. Full stop.

Would different evidence have been collected and/or would a different decision have been made regarding the parties to be prosecuted? While we can never know with certainty, I for one have strong suspicions in that regard based upon what I do know about the case. Regardless, the fact that we will never know the answer to that fundamental question is already, in my opinion, a denial of justice to the family of the deceased and to society as a whole.

Brad
Excellent!

Not only do I agree with what you've said, but I applaud the way in which you said it. And you presented a wider view which hadn't occured to me before.
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Old 18-06-2008, 14:38   #264
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Brad,

Thank you for your well written thoughts. I agree 100%. You and TaoJones are spot on for pointing out the inherent conflict of interest which the DA has decided to pretend doesn't exist in this case.

What concerns me is the slow but steady disintegration into anarchy that this kind governmental action invites, both the ignoring of the conflict and the abuse of discretion. If the government has no inclination to 'do the right thing,' how cogent an argument can be made that the rest of society should be exceptional and 'do the right thing?' This kind of governmental behavior usually has sublimated after effects, whether it be at tax season or just obeying speed limits on route to the grocery store. Have we not already heard expressed in this thread the idea that there is no justice anywhere?

What is most debilitating to the moral fabric of any society is not what is illegal, but what is legal. It is there that lies the greatest potential for damage, not just to individuals who becomes victims of the law's capriciousness but also to the overarching glue necessary to hold society together.

I believe the District Attorney is an elected position in Lake County, CA, and therein lies part of the problem. In the end, it's hard for any of us to escape some measure of blame. For example, I might ask which DA candidate did Dinius vote for, or did he even vote?

It's a seamless web, but some threads of the web are more critical than others. Given the nearly unlimited powers that prosecutors yield, one can certainly hope for something better than what Lake County has saddled itself with.
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Old 18-06-2008, 14:55   #265
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I believe the District Attorney is an elected position in Lake County, CA, and therein lies part of the problem. In the end, it's hard for any of us to escape some measure of blame. For example, I might ask which DA candidate did Dinius vote for, or did he even vote?
I believe Mr. Dinius is from Sacramento, John, thus, a citizen of another county altogether, but I take your point.

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Old 18-06-2008, 15:22   #266
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I believe Mr. Dinius is from Sacramento, John, thus, a citizen of another county altogether, but I take your point.
I was afraid of that but didn't bother to check before I posted.

So, what do you think are the odds that someday Dinius will retire in Lake County?
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Old 18-06-2008, 15:43   #267
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So, what do you think are the odds that someday Dinius will retire in Lake County?
If Bismarck Dinius is so fortunate as to win his freedom in this case and is able to settle the various civil actions without losing everything - or even if he does - I would suggest that he put California in his rear view mirror, and move to a more civilized locale where, God willing, this kind of injustice doesn't occur.

Please don't ask where that might be - sadly, it may not exist.

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Old 18-06-2008, 15:52   #268
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Rumor has it lots of people are already doing exactly that. My parents did. They only lasted two years in LA. It was the Mafia killing dropped on the front lawn that was the straw breaking the camel's back. I got to miss school that day, as my parents wouldn't let me outside.

[Edit: I recall living in two different houses during that two years, and going to three different schools. It's not like they didn't try to make it work.]

But I'm doing the thread drift thing again.
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Old 23-07-2008, 16:35   #269
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From today's edition of 'Lectronic Latitude, comes word that the local Lake County paper conducted a little poll:

* * * * *

"Lake County Residents Think Perdock is Guilty

"July 23, 2008 Lake County

"With Bismarck Dinius slated to go on trial next week on vehicular manslaughter charges in the Lake County boating death of Lynn Thornton, the Lake County Record-Bee has published the stunning results of a poll about who their readers thought was actually responsible. The results couldn't have been worse or more humiliating for both the Lake County Sheriff's Department and the Lake County District Attorney."

* * * * *

For the rest of the story, go to:

Latitude 38 - The West's Premier Sailing & Marine Magazine

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Old 25-07-2008, 12:22   #270
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California residents also think OJ Simpson is innocent. That's why san states have juries, prosecutors, defenders and a person in a black wardrobe presiding.

California media justice is a joke.

He who is popular is innocent...
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