Sunday, January 17, 2010

Two More Months

Judge Faye Allen took two more months of freedom away from Shannon Burke at Friday's Reckless Driving (Alcohol Related) Violation of Probation hearing in Orange County. These two months will be served after he completes his agreed upon six month sentence for the Animal Cruelty & Discharging a Firearm case in Seminole County.

In monitoring the several hearings related to the Orange County case, CourtWatch found Judge Allen to be thorough and attentive at all times. We were concerned that after the December appearance, where numerous witnesses testified about the sincerity of Burke's having turned away from  alcohol, that any sentence she might impose would be concurrent to (that is, served alongside instead of after) the 6 month sentence in Seminole County.

Prosecutor Crystal Segui was vigorous in her handling of the case. Her arguments were convincing and well presented. Mark O'Mara, Counsel for Mr. Burke, handled his legal issues quite well.

CourtWatch is pleased to know that Judge Allen chose to hold him accountable for violating the terms of his Orange County probation.

We believe that Friday's consecutive sentence sends a strong message to Mr. Burke that the judge was not pleased with his having committed such a serious offense in Seminole County after he had been treated leniently on an alcohol-related charged just a few months earlier.

It never ceases to amaze me how many crimes of violence are committed after alcohol has been consumed. It is not unusual to hear in court that defendants and/or victims were drinking when their offense occurred.

We sincerely hope that Burke continues to aggressively pursue a life that is 100% free of alcohol. And even though it was not court-ordered, we hope he will enroll himself in a Batterer's Intervention Program to address the attitudes that led him to threaten to shoot, and subsequently pull the trigger on, his wife's dog and accidentally shoot his wife.

Alcohol abuse didn't cause Burke to threaten his wife and her dog. A deep-seated attitude of power & control is responsible. Alcohol merely lessened any inhibitions that would have enabled him to control himself. Being alcohol-free won't make him stop any future abusive behavior.

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