Monday, May 4, 2009

Young, Stupid & In Jail

In monitoring Judge Tim Shea's court this morning, I saw two defendants that could be categorized as young & stupid. The first was Doreen Maynard, age 19 at the time of her arrest for 3 counts of DWI manslaughter. She pled no contest last month and was here to be remanded into custody while a PSI (pre-sentence investigation) is prepared. Several family members wept as this petite young lady had the handcuffs put on her. The primary thought that ran through my mind (after realizing that she is younger than my oldest daughter) was how foolish it is to drink and drive. She ruined the lives & families of 3 people who died. She ruined her own life. All because she was stupid enough to get behind the wheel after drinking. Her sentencing is scheduled for June 8th.

Our second "stupid" individual was scheduled for sentencing. Carlos Guzman pled to Robbery with a Firearm (which carries with it a 10-yr minimum mandatory sentence). Guzman is also 19 years old. He and a co-defendant severely assaulted a security guard who confronted them in a parking lot last July. The victim, a young man in his 20s, was pistol whipped in the assault. After hearing the victim's testimony, it appears as though Defense Counsel Kendall Horween's tactics with the victim could be construed at best as questionable, at worst as harrassment. The victim testified that Horween had repeatedly called him to discuss the case. The victim had to ask the State Attorney's office to contact Mr. Horween to ask him to stop calling. Horween's subpoena to depose the victim "accidentally" had the victim's name where the defendant's name belonged. When the victim called him for clarification, he got the victim to agree to request a "Youthful Offender" sentence of 6 years in exchange for cancelling the deposition. Even when he was testifying this morning, Judge Shea had to reign Horween in, stating that he was not going to permit the victim to be re-victimized at this hearing.

Perhaps Guzman was simply caught up in a situation where he & his buddy, because they had a gun, decided to act like tough guys. The defendant claimed today that he did not have a gun during the offense. If that was the case, his attorney did him a terrible disservice by allowing him to plead guilty last month (I don't think the judge bought that claim). In spite of my criticisms of Mr. Horween, I don't think he is incompetent. Perhaps Guzman's apology to the victim was genuine, but from where I sat, it was (as Assistant State Attorney Mark Graham asserted) a case of crocodile tears. The defendant committed this offense less than 2 months after being released from jail on a burglary charge. Perhaps we should believe his attorney's argument that the defendant entered the plea in order to spare the victim from having to testify in deposition and trial. Sorry, you're not going to sell me on that one either.

Thankfully, Judge Shea didn't buy the defendant's arguments and presentation of mitigating factors. He sentenced Guzman to the 10-year minimum mandatory sentence because the maximum he could impose under Youthful Offender guidelines would be 6 years, which he did not believe to be sufficient for the severity of the offense.

Two different defendants, two different offenses, same theme. Young, stupid & in jail.

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