Why victims need rights in courtAs victims of a murder, I...

the Forum

January 13, 1994

Why victims need rights in court

As victims of a murder, I am thankful for having people like Del. Gerry Brewster, D-Baltimore County, on the side of crime victims.

Delegate Brewster has not hopped on the band wagon for victims' rights just because of an election year. He has been active and dedicated since the late 1980s, and he honestly believes in the rights of crime victims.

Delegate Brewster has been for the good of the people. His background speaks for itself.

He was state prosecutor for four years, prosecuting thousands of cases, supporting the victims' rights movement, sponsor of the constitutional amendment in 1992 and co-sponsor of this amendment in 1994.

As for the editorial, "No to Victims Rights Amendment," (Dec. 26), I feel it should be known that victims of crime are not a special interest group.

There is a need for a constitutional amendment because existing laws to protect victims are currently side-stepped to keep the judicial process moving. Trials are continuously battered by the defense with ridiculous innuendoes which stall the proceedings.

A constitutional amendment would not be side-stepped, just as all -- and I mean all -- constitutional rights of the defendant are not side-stepped, to the point of absurdity at the expense of the victim.

The constitutional amendment would merely guarantee that "a victim of a crime shall have the right to be informed of, to be present at, and to be heard at appropriate criminal justice proceedings."

This would not take away the rights of the defendant and does not even begin to compare to the endless "rights" guaranteed a defendant.

Example: Steven H. Oken received the death sentence for murdering our daughter in 1987 and has been given the right to appeal his case for up to 14 years at taxpayers' expense.

My daughter's rights were violated, and she was sentenced to death by this murderer.

Frederick J. Romano

Bel Air

Man of the year

Your selection of James Rouse as 1993 "Marylander of the Year" is most admirable and fitting.

Mr. Rouse's belief in the possibility of a felicitous and redemptive rapprochement between urban and suburban areas, his fertile, quick mind, joie de vivre and commitment to human possibilities transcending the artificial barriers of race, gender and class mark him as a citizen extraordinaire.

Congratulations to Mr. Rouse for caring and sharing so marvelously and magnanimously with all citizens of the Free State.

Samuel L. Banks

Baltimore

Elected boards

Following the philosophy that change should be made, let's go for an elected school board in Baltimore County.

The present board adheres to the vision of "change" for the rest of us. Now we are warned to be careful about changing the school board itself. What happened to all the talk about getting us into the next century and catching up with the rest of the world?

Elected school boards are reportedly the preference of 32 states. Voters perceive them to be more responsive.

When people feel more confidence in their public servants they work better together. Educational issues are forced to the surface.

The school system is never insulated from politics. The present board is flattered, grateful and extremely vulnerable to those who appoint it. An elected board is called by average citizens as a trustee for the people. Royal arrogance and godlike power are thus eliminated.

Shirley Giberson

Upper Falls

Israelis won't choose self-destruction

Regarding Professor Warren Cohen's Jan. 2 essay on Israel, I find his arguments ludicrous.

What kind of expansionism is Israel engaged in? Israel, with Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights combined, is the size of the state of New Jersey.

It is surrounded by 22 Arab countries, all of them repressive dictatorships, who only keep treaties when it is in their interest. Yasser Arafat never kept a promise in his whole life.

Professor Cohen's confidence in the bargaining power and wisdom of the Rabin Labor government is misplaced. The Yom Kippur War (which included General Yitzhak Rabin) occurred during the sloppy stewardship of the Labor government. Israel paid a terrible price in men lost, but it had to win or it would have been destroyed.

Israel can make only one mistake. In Judea and Samaria it will give up water rights, control of vital air space over the Judean and Samarian mountain ranges, and will face the problem of armaments (like the SAM-11, which is relatively small and mobile) being smuggled in and wreaking havoc on Israel's population centers. Will Israel be able to inspect all cargo?

As for the Golan Heights, whoever controls it controls the Galilee. The original premise by Mr. Rabin and U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher was that American soldiers would be stationed on the Golan Heights as a peacekeeping force. This is unacceptable to both Americans and Israelis.

The Rabin government does not have the support of a majority of the Israeli Jewish population for the amputation of its territory.

In the Knesset, which votes as a block, by party, the Rabin government controls 61 votes out of 120 members. Five of the 61 members are Arabs. There have been continuous and constant demonstrations in Israel against this "peace process."

In his last sentence, Professor Cohen said what he really believes in: "And should peace be lost once more, let Hamas -- and not American-supported Jewish settlers -- bear the onus."

In other words, to salvage Professor Cohen's so-called idealism, it is better that Jews be killed and Israel perhaps destoryed. Of course, the professor is safe in the United States.

Let me inform Professor Cohen that American Jews support the right of Israel to choose its own destiny, and the Israelis will not choose self-destruction.

Beatrice Davis

Baltimore

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