Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Right to a Speedy Trial

The United States Constitution guarantees us the right to a speedy trial. The Supreme Court will soon decide whether spending three years in jail — waiting to be tried — is considered a “speedy trial.”


Most people with an IQ higher than their shoe size will agree that three years does not a speedy trial make. Unfortunately, the suspect in this case will be a perfect poster child for the usual rightwing drivel about “coddling criminals” and being “soft on crime.”

Michael Brillon, of Bennington, Vermont, was charged with assault after punching his girlfriend in the face. He has previous convictions for obstruction of justice and sexual assault on a minor.

Obviously this asswipe should serve a long prison sentence, or get the shit beat out of him by a friend or relative of the victim, or something. But — not until AFTER he’s been tried and found guilty.

Brillon was convicted of this assault charge in 2004 — after waiting three years for his trial. He was sentenced to 12 to 20 years for the assault charge plus being a habitual offender. A Vermont court overturned the conviction because Brillon’s Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial had been violated.

And now a huge coalition of governors, mayors, county governments and a victims’ rights group has appealed this case to the U.S. Supreme Court. They’re worried that if Brillon’s conviction isn’t reinstated, other criminals will wiggle out of their prison sentences using that same speedy trial “gimmick.”

Here’s a thought: Maybe they could wait less than three years before putting a suspect on trial. DUUUHHH!!!

Don’t they study the Constitution in schools any more?

cross-posted at Bring It On!



Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Justice delayed is justice denied. Someone, a judge I think, should've taken a firm hand with this case long before Brillon got to his fourth public defender.

Sounds as though Brillon is a turd who belongs behind bars for a very long time. But the case in question is spoiled and must be thrown out.

I'm sure it won't be long before Brillon gets in trouble again. He should have the book thrown at him when he does. The bad thing, of course, is that by then he will have hurt or maybe killed another person.

Situations like this gave us the truism, "justice is blind."

January 13, 2009 at 12:11 AM  
Anonymous kate said...

In answer to your question. No, they do not study the Constitution in school. A lawyer friend of mine told me, lawyers are not taught law in law school, they are taught procedure. I believe him.

January 13, 2009 at 1:39 AM  
Blogger rockync said...

The right to a speedy trial comes with a caveat - if the defendant themselves ask for a continuation, the rule can be flexed to accomodate. After looking over the case a little, it appears that Brillion in fact fired all his public defenders (6); the other side of that coin is that they all came to court admitting they were unprepared. The judge is this case was a slacker - by the second lawyer, he/she should have threatened the lawyer with censure and contempt and compelled them to be prepared by the next date.
We could, of course, relieve the burden on our judicial system by legalizing the use of "soft" drugs thereby clearing quite a bit of the docket so that meaningful justice could be served by concentrating on ridding our society of the REAL criminals who threaten our very existence.

January 13, 2009 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: That's exactly it -- "justice delayed is justice denied." Governments have to do whatever they need to do to have enough judges and lawyers on hand, to make sure these delays don't happen.

Kate: I believe him too. That's probably exactly what they're teaching.

Rockync: I'm sure Brillon knows how to work the system, like so many career criminals. But the judicial system needs to be prepared for these tactics and be able to fight back. Like you said, the judge should file contempt charges against unprepared lawyers (prosecution or defense). And of course getting rid of victimless crime laws (soft drugs, etc.) would be the ideal solution. Billions of dollars saved, court backlogs freed up, etc.

January 13, 2009 at 1:21 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Kate wrote, "No, they do not study the Constitution in school."

Say what?!! Who is they? Do you mean not studied enough or literally not at all? And, where is the Constitution not being taught?

January 14, 2009 at 1:24 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Three years is speedy when it comes to geologic time. Or have you already forgotten the the scientific bonafides of Scalia or Thomas?

January 14, 2009 at 6:26 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: From what I know about lawyers and law school (which is zero), I'd guess that even if they study the Constitution, there's a lot more emphasis on procedures, maneuvers, tactics and countertactics. Just a guess, but it seems to me that most lawyers know millions of legal maneuvers for playing "Gotcha!" and the Constitution is sort of an afterthought.

Randal: No doubt, Thomas and Scalia would think 3 years is a speedy trial; or 30 years for that matter.

January 14, 2009 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Aw, the hell with our justice system. Let's just allow the Dominionists to take over our country. That way, everything will be black or white, and most accusations will result in a guilty verdict which in turn will result in an execution. If people don't obey, let's just get rid of them.

Just kidding, of course.

As for Brillon, I hope he becomes someone's special friend in prison somewhere if it is proved he did all he is accused of.

How much more punitive, in general, will Americans allow the culture to become?

Dole out the punishment where deserved, after the accused has had a speedy trial by a jury of his or her peers. That is the way it is supposed to work, as I understand it anyway. Why keep coming up with longer sentences and more reasons to put people in jail?

Is this happening because those who make such decisions don't trust in the capacity of humans to become rehabilitated after crimes have been committed? Maybe... It seems like too many Americans have the attitude of "lock 'em up 'n' throw away th' key".

Speedy trial... let's see... hmmm. Yeah, eight or ten years ought to be about right. Heh...

I agree with you Tom and Rockync, easing up on stuff like pot would relieve a lot of the overload in our jails, free up court time, etc.

As for the Constitution being taught or not, I've seen it being taught in a couple of middle school settings where I work, and the kids just aren't interested in it. It seems like a lot of us found it important and interesting when I was in high school over 30 years ago, but at that time we did not have as many distractions as kids have nowadays.

The Constitution is indeed being taught these days... but how many kids care? How many of them are listening?

January 14, 2009 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: We could bring back the methods of the Salem Witch Trials. Put the suspect in a huge tank of water. If the suspect sinks and drowns, he/she was innocent. If he/she floats, the suspect is a witch and must be burned.

Think of all the money this would save on lawyers, judges and prison cells.

Yes, it'll be Brillon's turn to be the battered wife when he goes to prison (after being convicted).

January 14, 2009 at 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Bee said...

Well, what the hell else can be expected when the POTUS (fortunately for only a few more days) says it's okey dokey to hold so-called "enemy combatants" and "alleged terrorists" indefinitely for years with no trial, no nothing, no lawyer, no knowledge of why they were picked up in the first place. Of course this crap will happen - because when the constitution is ignored and forgotten 90 miles from the coast of Florida, it will be forgotten and ignored in Vermont as well.
Gitmo is the precedent for this 3 year holding. I think that before the BushCo admin, this guy would have been cut loose if the DA or AG or whoever couldn't make the case for a trial in 3 months, much less 3 years.
Hopefully, we are heading back to that.

January 14, 2009 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Bee: I think you're right -- Gitmo paved the way for this. As soon as we started making exceptions for "enemy combatants," the rest was easy. We need to put a stop to this ASAP. We need to close Gitmo (as Obama says he plans to do) and start throwing out convictions that were obtained illegally.

January 14, 2009 at 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brillon case was spoil and should
be throw out. I once sat on a jury
and turn the jury around and left this guy off. You see there were two, one turn on the other so the
proscutor gave a short sentence and
his friend on trial wasn't getting
the book throw at him. We the jury
felt that now right. And is the guy was as bad as they said he was, we felt that he get what coming. Withing three years time, this guy was dead. Now I know me and all the other people on this jury will never ever be call for jury duty in Bennington again.

But now in Burington, VT. we have rapist, and I got to see a man of peace go to jail for nine months for driving without a operator license.

Justice in the State of Vermont is about money and will always be about money.

And remember the Law Man can't wait
to bust you ass.

June 20, 2009 at 7:48 PM  

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