Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Our Unfair Criminal Justice System

Today, 18-year-old Shamus Patton, who pleaded guilty to shooting nine teen-agers during last year's Black Expo Summer Celebration, received a sentence of just 8 years for his crime. Patton's attorney had argued for an even lighter sentence, but Marion Co. Superior Court Judge Carol Orbison wasn't buying the argument. "I think the circumstances of this crime are absolutely horrendous," Orbison said before reading his sentence. With time credited for good behavior, Patton should be back out on the streets within three years for his "absolutely horrendous crime." Patton gets to serve the final two years of his sentence in community corrections, whereupon he will be required to serve just two years of probation.

Contrast Patton's sentence with that of 39-year-old Augustus Mendenhall, who was convicted of attempting to murder State Rep. Ed DeLaney, even though he never fired a single shot at DeLaney and only caused minor injuries to DeLaney during a scuffle between the two men. Hamilton Superior Court Judge William Hughes sentenced Mendenhall to 40 years in prison after a jury found him guilty but mentally ill. Judge Hughes seemed to choose a harsher penalty against Mendenhall because he was an attorney and his victim was chosen out of revenge for the actions of DeLaney, a prominent attorney, who arguably abused the legal processes for his powerful client to destroy the business of Mendenhall's father. Hughes, who was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving after being arrested and charged with drunk driving earlier this year, described Mendenhall as "sick and entwined since childhood with his father's hatred and need for revenge", but found his statement read in court "chilling, threatening, and unbelievable" and evidencing no remorse.

Like I've said before, there are two forms of justice in this country: one for the privileged elite and one for the rest of us. Patton will serve but a very short sentence for shooting nine black youths because our criminal justice system places a lesser value on the lives of those nine black youths than it does the single highly privileged life of Ed DeLaney. I wonder if DeLaney has any remorse for the years of suffering to which he subjected Mendenhall's father and family? I doubt it. And I'm sure he won't lose any sleep knowing Mendenhall is spending far more time in prison for his crime than justice should have required of him to serve.


Indy4u2c said...

I wonder if the court considered the likelihood that Patton can be rehabilitated? -or his DANGER to the community?

I, personally, don't believe Patton shall ever hold gainful employment and that the safety of our community demands his incarceration for a much longer term!

Gary R. Welsh said...

Look at how many times they turned Hardy back on the streets to repeatedly victimize innocent people until he finally killed Officer Moore. Only then did our system bring charges appropriate for his crime.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I would add that attempted murder charge with Mendenhall was on shaky grounds. Delaney's deposition said that Mendenhall arrived wearing thick, winter ski gloves. Mendenhall was arrested by the police wearing those same gloves. Yet Delaney testified in his deposition that Mendenhall was reaching into the gun, using his fingers trying to clear a jam, while holding Delaney down with the other hand. He just couldn't have done that with the heavy winter gloves.

Then you had the fact that Delaney testified that Mendenhall had the gun outside the car and was on top of Delaney. The police drove up and Mendhall took off running and was tasered. Yet the gun was found in an overnight bag back in the car.

Even though the deposition of Delaney wasn't as aggressive as it should have been, there was clearly reasonable doubt as to the attempted murder charge. Yet inexplicably the defense pursued an insanity defense which precluded using the deposition testimony of Delaney to establish reasonable doubt.

Gary R. Welsh said...

It was a bit odd seeing Jack Crawford defend Mendenhall given his political relationship with Ann DeLaney during the Bayh administration. DeLaney was knee deep in spin control and crisis management during Crawford's blow up with his secretary/girlfriend while serving as Lottery Director for Bayh. As I recall, the Bayh machine of which DeLaney was a key player, was turned on the innocent girlfriend with unusual venom, a bit odd for a woman who claims to be a champion of victimized women.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Few comparisons can better show how unfair is Indiana's criminal justice system. Poor Mendenhall. I bet Jack Crawford, a wonderful man and attorney, was shocked at Judge Hughes's decision. I am very shocked at Judge Orbison's.