Also, police evidence such as fingerprint analysis, which could have linked the accused to the scene or to the illegal substance recovered was missing, not presented or not discussed. Prosecutors did not ask the right questions and rookie officers were not poised enough in recounting events to paint a picture of what occurred.
I was frustrated enough after the second trial to speak to the assistant state's attorney who prosecuted the case. He explained that he had a dozen cases to prepare in a short time and only one night's notice about which of those cases would be heard the next day.
By then it was too late to request the appearance of all officers involved in the arrest or to better prepare.
Is anyone taking the time to contemplate a high rate of uncooperative and apathetic jurors, overworked prosecutors and the resulting low rate of convictions?
If we want a criminal justice system that works, steps need to be taken to educate the public and to reform our courts.
Susie Lipscher, Baltimore
Utilities must be regulated
I couldn't agree more with Ralph Brave on the deregulation of utilities ("Staying plugged in," Opinion*Commentary, Jan. 24).
I worked for BGE for more than 13 years and, as rumblings of deregulation were heard, I said it would not benefit residential customers.
My point was that if a third party (a power broker/marketer) was added to the mix as a middleman, who would pay his bill? Now we're finding out that is us, the residential consumers.
My father is 73, retired and on a fixed income, just as many Marylanders are. His BGE bill went up 100 percent last year.
Fortunately, he has decent health benefits. Otherwise, he would be forced to choose between heating his home, eating or receiving medical attention.
Why are the free market politicians so silent on this issue? I guess their campaign coffers were filled by well-to-do lobbyists of big business, which is the primary beneficiary of the deregulation push.
We need to start sending a message to the politicians that the fun is over and we should get back to a more stable and affordable, regulated utility market.
I'm afraid if we don't pull together and pull the plug on utility deregulation, we'll all be going down the drain together.
Chuck Dobry, Perry Hall
Maryland won't have West's power woes
Marylanders, including the author of the letter "Deregulation of electricity threatens our power supply" (Jan. 16) can be assured that California's energy maelstrom will not be repeated here. Maryland legislators did not use California as a model for deregulation.
California's deregulation of its electricity market is in trouble primarily as a result of a shortage of generation capacity to meet the demand caused by a booming economy. Extreme weather conditions in the Southwest have exacerbated the state's difficulties.
California, which has not built a major power plant in more than a decade, relies on its neighbors for electricity generated mainly by hydroelectric dams. Such imports have dwindled thanks to dry spells and low snowfalls.
Also, California's transition to electric deregulation was dramatically compressed, forcing many utilities to purchase power on the spot market, but not to be able to pass on volatile wholesale prices.
Fortunately, Maryland is served by the nation's oldest energy pool, the PJM Interconnection, which has established a mature and stable wholesale market.
Power plants serving the PJM use diverse energy sources, including coal, nuclear energy, natural gas, oil and hydroelectric power. And Maryland's utilities have bargained in advance for fixed-price wholesale power.
And, best of all, BGE's settlement plan offers long-term consumer protections such as an average 6.5 percent rate cut for residential customers, a six-year residential rate freeze and a strengthened low-income safety net.
Charles R. Boutin, Annapolis
The writer represents the 34th District in the House of Delegates.
Christian words can be divisive
I agree with recent letters that point out that the sectarian phrases used in the invocation and benediction at the presidential inauguration were insensitive and divisive ("Sectarian prayers made Bush inauguration divisive," letters, Jan. 24).
The presidential oath of office in our Constitution does not even contain the traditional words "so help me God." Indeed, the word "God" never appears in the U.S. Constitution.
Our Founding Fathers understood the value of silence in these matters. This silence suggests that one way to honor our diverse religious traditions and dishonor no one at government functions is to call for silent prayer or meditation.
The Founders' example of silence is a wise, just and equitable way to avoid divisiveness and promote the unity and civility President Bush advocated in his inaugural address.
Merrill E. Milham, Baldwin