Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
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    Sunday, December 23, 2007

    New York Needs a Castle Doctrine Law

    It's really hard to tell from a news article or two, but it looks to me like this guy just got the shaft:

    A Suffolk County jury late Saturday night convicted John White of manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon in the 2006 killing of an unarmed teenager.

    John White, who faces a maximum of 12 to 22 years in prison for shooting Daniel Cicciaro Jr. in the face during a tense confrontation with White's son, Aaron, will remain free on bail until he is sentenced Feb. 21.


    "A lot of people are hurt from this verdict," said Frederick Brewington of Hempstead, who the guilty verdict was disappointing for the White family and "also disappointing for African-Americans in Suffolk County."

    "What this just basically has said ... is that you have to survive as an African-American in Suffolk County, where people can roll up on your house at 11:30 at night, threaten you, threaten your family, curse at you, call you a , and you've got to take it."


    [Defense Attorney] Brewington told jurors that Cicciaro and four friends came to White's house that night to "terrorize" him because he is black. He argued that racism had "everything to do" with the case.

    Suffolk prosecutors, on the other hand, told jurors to focus on what they called White's recklessness on the night of the shooting...

    In other words, in New York, it's perfectly acceptable for 5 teenagers to come to your house in the middle of the night, threaten your children and your family, and there's nothing you can do about it but call 911 and hope the cops arrive before someone gets hurt. In any reasonable place, this case would be about the gross disparity of force (5 men in their prime versus 1 in his prime and his middle-aged father), the obvious threats being made, and the danger to the family. In New York, it's about the "scary old man" who "hoards weapons":

    [Prosecutor] Chalifoux told jurors there were "two John Whites." One was the peaceful and meticulous man described by his friends, and the other was the man who admitted keeping a shotgun in his bedroom, a handgun in his garage, and pickax handles in his car and front closet, all for safety.

    I wonder what Chalifoux would think of me when I say that John White seems rather lightly armed. He should have had at least another gun... one for him, one for his son, and one for his wife. Based on this story and a couple others, it looks as though the prosecutors managed to make the entire case revolve around the jury's fear of guns and gun owners rather than the fact that a man and his son were being threatened by greater than 2:1 odds. How utterly disgusting.

    Contrast this incident with the famous Bernie Goetz shooting, in which the situation was incredibly similar but the races reversed. Bernie Goetz still got the shaft, but the worst conviction against him was "criminal gun possession", which is a BS charge if I ever heard one, and they totally railed him on it: six months in jail, one year psychiatric treatment, five years' probation, 200 hours community service, and a fine of $5,000.

    People are constantly trying to convince me that racism is alive and well in America. I'll grant that it's true in New York, though in all honesty that's at least in part because I see New York and California's metro areas as completely uncivilized wastelands where decent people refuse to live. In Oklahoma, both Goetz and White would have been seen for the good guys they are and turned loose. And that's why New York needs a Castle Doctrine -- to protect victims like White from overzealous prosecutors like Chalifoux.

    Posted by Tom, 12/23/2007 2:09:46 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...