Lesson gone awry in Judge Gelfman's courtOn July 2, my...

LETTERS

July 21, 1996

Lesson gone awry in Judge Gelfman's court

On July 2, my Korean daughter appeared in District Court of Maryland for Howard County. She was summoned to appear for a traffic violation "exceeding max. speed." My daughter has only been in this country for two years and has been attending Howard Community College for English.

I felt that instead of paying the fine of $65, it would be good for her to see how the American court system worked, rather than what she has seen on television with Judge Wapner ("The People's Court"). As the court date drew near, my daughter became very nervous and could not sleep. I tried to reassure her that I would be there for her support and to answer any questions.

Well, thanks to the Honorable Judge Lenore Gelfman, my daughter will never forget her terrible day in court.

As my daughter's name was called, we both approached the defendant's table, at which time the judge informed me that only the defendant and her lawyer were allowed to come forward. Well, this left my daughter so nervous and confused she couldn't speak. Judge Gelfman, acting as though she was in a hurry, kept firing one question after another, which my daughter had trouble understanding.

At this time I spoke out, that she wanted to plead guilty with an explanation. Judge Gelfman informed me that it was a criminal offense to represent someone without being a lawyer. In other words, shut up.

Had the judge taken a minute to be more understanding, instead of reducing my daughter to tears, this whole incident could have been resolved. Instead, she postponed the case and will provide an interpreter, which I could have done. What's a few more

taxpayer dollars?

The thing that really upsets me about this incident is that when people become judges, they are looked upon as role models by the young.

This is an example of a judge destroying a young women's dream of coming to America. For Judge Gelfman's information, I have witnessed in this very same courtroom, a father and son standing before a judge.

In closing, I have told my daughter not to "judge" the system because of this experience. But as an American, I will have my say on Election Day.

John C. Howes

Columbia

Sen. Kasemeyer doesn't get it

A recent letter to the editor of The Sun by state Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, about prepaid tuition for all Maryland college students, raises several questions as to the real merits of his proposal.

What raises the loudest alarm is the idea that parents give money on a regular basis to the state government, and the state government invests the money. I can remember when the entire Maryland savings and loan banking system (which was under the oversight of the state legislature) collapsed at taxpayers' expense. I can remember Gov. William Donald Schaefer taking the entire highway trust fund and placing it in a harbor cargo transfer facility with the blessing of the state legislature. I believe Mr. Kasemeyer was in the legislature during these periods.

It would be much more practical to permit parents to place money in accounts similar to the federal Individual Retirement Accounts on a tax-deferred basis with the ultimate permit to use the funds for the education of their children. It is not practical for every person to go on for an extended education. The taxpaying community should not be responsible for the inflation increases in the cost of education. The major drivers in the inflating cost of living are the escalating federal, state and local debts, and unfavorable trade balances. To date, we have not been successful in electing individuals capable of solving these problems.

ames M. Holway

Ellicott City

Seeing the light at Oakland Mills High

On July 12, you reported the Columbia Association's consideration of the marquee at Oakland Mills High. It seems David Hatch, chairman of the Oakland Mills village board, believes that "Illuminated, the sign is totally unfit for the neighborhood."

My response: The unilluminated are unfit to decide educational matters, though they are useful as galvanizers. When I heard of this screwy sign objection, I went to the school and donated $20 to the Booster Club, and encourage other Oakland Mills High School parents to do the same.

Fred Nastvogel

Columbia

Violating wetlands shouldn't be felony

I was appalled to read in The Sun on June 27, an article entitled "Lawbreaker or Bureaucrats' Victims?" concerning the jail sentence imposed on James J. Wilson for illegally filling wetlands.

I think that most people agree that wetlands should be respected and preserved.

However, I find it frightening, and indeed alarming, that we are criminally prosecuting those that violate environmental laws. Fines and restrictions, yes, but convicted felons?

I cannot believe that most Americans would agree with the prosecutor in this case in her analogy by stating: "That individual is no different than the bank president who embezzles funds."

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