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Sunday, March 30, 2008

JUSTICE DELAYED

I would file this one under “Justice Delayed”. It is alleged that on Tuesday, March 6, 2007, 25 year old Moses M. Streete and two 19 year olds, Thomas Fashaw and Andrew Fuller, launched a crime spree across southern Maryland. Beginning about 2pm they used a handgun in an attempted robbery of the Castle Liquor store in Mount Airy. While fleeing that failure they fired a shot at one of the clerks. Shortly thereafter the trio was more successful at the 7-Eleven in Monrovia, and the Shell gas station in Mount Airy. But by this time police had been alerted, and a witness called 911 with their vehicle description, license number and direction of travel. A state police helicopter spotted their car and patrol cruisers gave chase westbound on Interstate 70, exiting on East Patrick Street, in Fredrick. But at the big bend in East Patrick the fleeing car hit the curb and overturned on the banks of Carroll Creek. All three suspects exited the vehicle, one of them even floundering into the creek, but all three were quickly captured. And all of this happened in broad daylight. But it was after the arrest that the real fireworks occurred.
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Moses Streete’s afternoon of criminal activity produced, besides a freezing dip in Carroll Creek, 28 charges against him, ranging from felony armed robbery and assault, to attempted murder to resisting arrest. In October, after his four day trial, Assistant State’s Attorney Deborah Kemp must have felt fairly confident, what with the witnesses, the helicopter, the pursuit, the accident and the arrests on the scene. If so, she was badly mistaken. First, Moses could thank defense attorney Scott Rolle for his arguments pointing out the lack of physical evidence such as fingerprints tying Mr. Streete to the individual crimes, for the jury finding him not guilty on 15 counts. And then, even though the jury did find Moses guilty of the remaining 13 counts, it wasn’t because of any great work by the Maryland State Police, or Ms. Kemp. It was because somebody in the jury room actually bothered to look at the evidence…which they weren’t supposed to do.
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Specifically, during deliberations the jurors examined the charcoal gray parka Moses was “alleged” to have worn during his afternoon’s delight, and in the parka’s pockets the nosey jurors discovered a bandage, a rubber glove, a bottle containing one pill and $1,317.00 in cash, presumably the proceeds from the 7-11 and/or the Shell station robbery. After the verdict one of the jurors told court officials about their discovery, and that is when the jury got their education as to the limitations on juries doing their own investigations. Juries are supposed to only examine evidence presented to them by the prosecution, and the prosecution never mentioned anything about anything in the parka’s pockets. In December of 2007 Circuit Judge Theresa Adams granted Moses a new trial on the 13 counts he had been convicted on. (“Double Jeopardy” prevents him from being retried on the 15 counts he was found not guilty on.) And Defense Lawyer Rolle says he plans to file a motion to exclude the contents of Mr. Streete’s parka pockets because of obvious questions about the “chain of custody” of that evidence. As for now Mr. Streete remains in custody due to previous guilty pleas on burglary and assault charges. The best that can be said in this case is that justice has been delayed.
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But I am heartened by the justice finally obtained by Serena Kozakura, a Japanese “television presenter” and “pin-up bikini model”. In July of 2006 a Tokyo District Court convicted her of the destruction of personal property, i.e. the door of a hotel room. The court concluded that Serena had kicked a hole in the lower panel of the door and then squeezed through, convinced that her then boyfriend and a young lady were together on the other side. Serena was sentenced to 14 months in jail, but the court suspended the sentence for three years. At her appeal Serena’s lawyer had a choice. He could either have argued Pi r squared, and since the opening was 22 inches high by 8.6 inches wide, and since Serena’s artificially enhanced bust line is 39.7 inches “wide” she could not have fit through that hole (39.7” X 3.14 = 124.65” of required clearance). Instead he just held a serving plate the size of the hole up against his client’s chest. Tokyo High Court Judge Kunio Harada immediately grasped the logic of Serena’s cups. The guilty verdict was overturned. The quiet, well spoken hot momma with the massive mamilaries told the media frenzy that followed, “I used to hate my body so much. But it was my breasts that won in court.” Her breasts say they are now going to go on a personal appearance tour of law schools all across Asia. But do NOT attempt to visit any of the English language web sites linked with her name, as they offer you a download that locks up your computer if you reject it. And where is the justice in that?
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Also in Japanese courts, it seems that 64 year old Harue Ichikawa has finally been handed her just deserts. The crazy old bat took offense when branches from her neighbor’s tree extended over her fence. But instead of offering to trim the branches, or asking her neighbor to cut them, or just having them cut and sending her neighbor the bill, this septuagenarian lunatic took to pausing in front of their house whenever she had reason to pass it, and shouting curses and insults. Eighteen documented times between March 31 and April 24, 2007, Ms. Ichikawa stopped outside her neighbor’s home and shouted things such as, “Shoo, shoo”, or “I’ll curse you to death!” or (my favorite) “Stop monitoring me”. Based on the documentation Ms. Ichikawa was charged with creating a public nuisance – i.e., herself. Her defense lawyer claims the whole thing was a misunderstanding, since she wasn’t shouting “Shoo, shoo”, but “Good, good!” But that is not the way the judge heard it. Ms. Ms. Ichikawa was sentenced to 10 months in jail, suspended for 3 years. And if there is any justice in this world, by the time the three years probation are up Ms. Ichikawa will be locked up safe and warm in a nursing home someplace.
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