Thursday, October 1, 2009

Justice in America

Legal authorities in Switzerland caught film director Roman Polanski and are holding him for extradition back to the United States. After pleading guilty to raping a 13 year old girl, Polanski fled after a plea deal fell through. A strange combination of Hollywood types and neo-con columnists in the Washington Post are defending Polanski. In bit of glaring obliviousness Woody Allen is among those defending Polanski.

There may be legal reason that might mitigate the issues that surround Polanski's sentence. That is why we have lawyers and appellate courts; to argue and decide these cases. However, we should not lose sight of what he confessed to doing. Polanski admitted that he gave a 13 year old girl a combination of wine and quaaludes and then raped her. Not only is this illegal but it is morally reprehensible. There could very well have been misconduct on the part of the judge and prosecutor, and if there is then Polanski's lawyers have a professional and legal obligation to bring any possible misconduct before the court in an effort to defend him. What is not needed is a bunch of morally oblivious Hollywood and Washington elite defending the indefensible.

Meanwhile in Texas, Governor Rick Perry(R-TX) fired 3 members of the State Forensic Commission. The commission was scheduled to listen to evidence related to the case of Cameron T. Willingham but the meeting had to be cancelled. In an article in the New Yorker, David Gann makes a very compelling case that when the state of Texas executed Willingham they executed an innocent man.

In Washington D.C., Federal District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly granted a habeas petition filed by a Kuwati citizen named Fouad al-Rabiah. In her ruling, Judge Kollar-Kotelly declared that American interrogators tortured al-Rabiah even though they had no evidence that he was guilty of anything more then being in Afghanistan during the U.S. invasion. In fact her ruling seems to indicate that U.S. officials knew his torture induced confession was unreliable but they held him in custody anyway. In other words, we tortured a man we knew was innocent.

In the U.S., if you are rich, powerful, and famous then there are plenty of rich, powerful, and famous people who will defend you. However, if you poor or of the wrong skin pigmentation then there is no greater crime you can commit then to be innocent when the government thinks you are guilty.

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