Sunday, April 20, 2008

Allen-Winburn Purge Plan

As many of you may have read recently, Judge Nadine Allen and Charlie Winburn are proposing a plan to "purge" certain old criminal cases from the court record. The plan calls for certain old or stale warrants to be eliminated therefore, allegedly, saving taxpayer money. Read more here.

I have carefully reviewed the plan that was sent to some of our Judges and the plan posted on the internet here.

As many of you know, I served as a Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge (the same Court as Judge Nadine Allen). I believe that Judge Allen and our own Charlie Winburn are well-intentioned in this situation. But, I reject the plan and believe it to undermine our justice system in a very substantive way.

After carefully reviewing this plan, I find no connection between excusing criminal behavior and saving money. In fact, I think that excusing criminal behavior and providing amnesty to those that have thumbed their nose at the justice system for 7 years may have the opposite impact. I think it may have the effect of promoting criminal behavior because people can escape prosecution by simply avoiding the courts for 7 years.

Even if 80%-85% of "stale" cases are ultimately dismissed by the court--so what! Under this plan, we will not successfully prosecute 20% of criminal offenders that DESERVE TO BE PROSECUTED. That is not a good plan and it sends the wrong message.

Time and again, I watched victims of crime come to my courtroom and patiently wait for lawyers and defendants to appear in court. The victim took time away from work, waited in a security line at 8:00 a.m. in downtown, paid to park and waited patiently in a crowded courtroom. Often times, the Defendant did not appear. Victims left frustrated--and rightfully so. This plan tells that victim that 7 years later, that Defendant will be excused on a case like theft or criminal damaging. It is wrong and unjust.

The plan certainly amounts to amnesty. I reject it and urge all Republicans to do so.