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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

FISH WRAP: TWO

As careful readers of these pages know (and by the way folks, the site counter reveals we are up to 75 readers a day, and growing exponentially. Keep forwarding this link to friends. More on our expanding reputation soon, with exciting news about an article about our fair blog to be published next Monday) we were a bit peeved (to put it mildly) about not receiving credit in the Herald column today about Bennett Brummer.

The next item in Fishwoman’s column, entitled “Day of Reckoning” was about the upcoming sentencing of former Miami Police Officer Jesus Gutierriez. Gutierriez, represented by Gina Mendez (see item below “Tis The Season) was convicted of having sex with a fourteen year old girl.

Alan Schwartz, the former Chief Judge of the Third District Court Of Appeal presided over the trial as a retired judge. What the fish wrap’s fishwoman didn’t know, what she couldn’t know, what only a real Justice Building Regular would know, is that Gutierriez turned down a plea offer of probation, with the condition that he forfeit his law enforcement certification.

We hear that what really turned people off about Gutierriez’s defense is that the former cop had his wife and family sit through the whole trial.

We know that it helps to have a family attached to a defendant. We’ve all heard the stories about defendants getting a rent-a-family to show up and sit behind them at trial. But when you are cheating on your wife and family with a fourteen year old girl, perhaps you should be man enough to keep your family out of it and spare them the grief and embarrassment of a trial.

The real story of the Gutierriez trial is that he was offered a chance to both spare the victim the trauma of testifying, and spare his family the trauma of a trial. Gutierriez showed that the only person he cared about was himself.

We don’t like prison. We strongly believe that if a society is going to abandon its citizens and warehouse them rather than rehabilitate them, then the least a society can do is provide safe and humane prisons. But, fully aware of how difficult it is for ex-police officers in prison, and how difficult it is for convicted child sex offenders in prison, we are so offended about Gutierriez’s conduct that we support what we think is going to be a request from the prosecution for a lengthy lengthy prison sentence.

Prosecutor William Altfield gets props here. A veteran of the Sexual Crimes Unit, and now serving for many years in the Public Corruption Unit, he was the prosecutor for this case. He did a great job, and the people of Dade County are fortunate to have dedicated and experienced prosecutors like Mr. Altfield.

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