March 26, 2013
Those of us who appear regularly in the North Avenue courthouse, where Baltimore City's domestic violence cases are heard, were already aware of the "spike" in domestic violence homicides noted recently by The Sun. We knew that some of those women had asked for the legal system's protection, and that some had not received it. But some of us also knew that even if they had gotten protective orders, or pressed charges, or participated in prosecution, those...
July 19, 2012
When Harford County's chief prosecutor, State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly, reached a plea agreement with a repeat-offending burglar that gave the 28-year-old admitted drug abuser 28 years to serve in prison, there was a lot to like about the deal. Asked about the plea agreement, Cassilly said: "If you're going to break into houses to steal stuff for your drug problem, we're going to ask for jail time. If you have a history of breaking into people's houses, we're going to ask for serious jail time.
June 18, 2012
It is well documented that African-American and Hispanic men are arrested, convicted and jailed at far higher rates than whites, and that once they enter the prison system they usually serve longer terms as well. That's why the NAACP and the Maryland ACLU among others were right to ask the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights last week to take another look at the systematic racial disparities in the state's criminal justice system. According to the Maryland Division of Corrections, 72 percent of the inmates in Maryland prisons are black, even though blacks make up only 29.4 percent of the population.
May 7, 2012
I applaud Sen. Ben Cardin's efforts to end racial profiling: Nothing is more divisive than to bring an "us against them" mentality into law enforcement ("Candidates make final push before Tuesday," April 2). What could be more demoralizing and dehumanizing than being judged by the color of your skin or the clothes you wear? Racial profiling, by definition, is incompatible with the guarantee of equal protection under the law contained in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Yet, many of the same people who claim to be strict constructionists with regard to the Constitution are in favor of denigrating one of its most basic tenets.
May 2, 2012
It is difficult to describe my feelings on reading about the horrific story years of violence and sexual abuse of Catholic school children at the hands of John Merzbacher ("Prepared to make their voices heard," April 29). That there could be any chance of Mr. Merzbacher being released back into the community is hard to imagine. I don't believe there is often much "justice" in our country's criminal justice system, but this has to be one of the most blatant examples of how the victims seem to bear the brunt of the crime and the perpetrators continue to be shown mercy and granted rights they should not have.
April 28, 2012
It is all too common in city courts to see witnesses reluctant to testify, even under threat of imprisonment, or developing amnesia over what had happened in front of them. But this week, it was not a bystander but the alleged victim himself who clearly wanted to be anywhere but the courtroom where prosecutors were trying to get justice for him. As The Baltimore Sun's Tricia Bishop reported, Corey Ausby basically shut down on the stand, a tearful 16-year-old wanting nothing to do with the case against two brothers he accused of beating him while they were on a neighborhood watch patrol in Park Heights.