``He was twice the legal limit. He should have known better,'' VanderGiesen said of Spencer's blood-alcohol level. ``However, he can't be locked up the rest of his life . . . These are young guys who all had something going for them. Everybody lost here.''
Here's our point- we all have for sometime now laboured in a criminal court system where the state almost always seeks the maximum penalty for most serious cases. The fact is that while many serious cases do mandate the maximum penalty, not all of them do.
Sometimes good people do bad things for inexplicable reasons.
Sometimes people who are not criminals commit criminal acts.
It used to be that participants in the criminal justice system laboured for justice. That included a just sentence. This was before the age of political correctness- and before the time that a victim's subjective (and fully understandable) desire for the maximum punishment outweighed what we all otherwise knew was a just sentence-
It is therefore refreshing to see prosecutors act with an understanding that this defendant- whose crime was horrible- does not deserve to have his life completely ruined.
This is a difficult proposition to defend. A young man made a tragic decision to drive impaired. In doing so, he killed his friend. He needs to be punished and its easy to say that he should be sentenced to prison for the rest of his life because he took a life.
We are not suggesting that people who drive impaired should not be punished. We are not in any way diminishing the never ending pain the parents and family of the victim are suffering. We are applauding the result which in some basic way recognizes that two wrongs don't make a right.
For over twenty years now the criminal justice system has been a pendulum swinging towards retribution and excessive sentencing . The momentum of this pendulum has been driven by politicians running for office on a "get tough on crime" platform. Not many people get elected by espousing the more sophisticated view that the punishment should fit the crime.
However, in this case, Judge Marin and two prosecutors in his division decided to not do the simple thing- which would have been to insist on the maximum sentence of 30 years. Judge Marin and the ASAs did the right thing. They sought a sentence that was fair and just. These two prosecutors sought justice, not vengeance. They are to be congratulated.
The unfortunate thing about this story is just how surprising this result is.
See You In Court.