By Tom Henry | as published in the June 24, 2017 edition of the Blytheville Courier News
“Justice is justly represented blind, because she sees no difference in the parties concerned. She has but one scale and weight, for rich and poor, great and small,” William Penn.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
I have been following city and county government for quite a while and I have been writing about it in depth for a couple of years now. As a result I am sick to my stomach. I am really discouraged.
Prosecutors and district attorneys have been political operatives and tactical shields since time immemorial, but that doesn’t make it right. In fact, because of the nature of the job, sometimes things appear to be cronyism even when it is not. However, since perception is reality all too often and since reality (both kinds) brings dramatic consequences, it is imperative that prosecutors do their job fairly, thoroughly and quickly without any regard to the position or status of the accused (or investigated).
The grotesque problem comes when elected prosecutors are more loyal to party machines or county political bosses than they are to the law in order to win their own re-election. Also, the very nature of elected prosecutors requires them to become close with others that are similarly dependent upon votes to keep their jobs.
Politicians are social creatures and having been “behind the curtain” for a while now, I realize that we all have to work together and have to interact with one another. Therefore, just because we are chatting, doesn’t mean that we are making secret deals or are the best of friends. However, the line oftentimes does get crossed. Those that are being investigated should never be able to ask the prosecutor “should I have anything to worry about?” Also, no one should be able to influence a prosecutors’ decision of whether or not to file charges on a person…only the evidence should do that. But that is not always the case.
Another terrible injustice is when investigations are lost in the shuffle. I have often heard the argument that outsiders should be investigating our local officials rather than subjected to local investigations. The problem with that is, when outsiders do the investigating, they never come to an end. Even a statute of limitations doesn’t bring an investigation to an end (as is the case with the Gary Phillips/Waterworks investigation).
So here is my point. If you are a prosecutor, do your darn job and do it quickly. If you are too close to an individual to do a fair, honest, expedited job – then appoint a special prosecutor that can; but make sure that it comes to an end quickly one way or the other. You owe us that. And if you are being investigated by anyone and your ethics are so bad that you believe it is even remotely ethical to ask the prosecutor directly “do I have anything to worry about,” then you just need to retire now.
Another thing that many of us are aware of is that lately the little guy, perhaps simple minded and not very well educated, that simply follows the orders of those elected officials in charge, ends up being the only ones that pay the price for illegal/unethical actions that are taken.
In the drug world that would be like investigating everyone from the first time recreational drug user, through the petty seller, through the small dealer, all the way up to the drug kingpin…but only charging the guy that got high for the first time in thirty years and letting everyone else get off despite having the evidence, just because they are too powerful. That is just not right!
That is why people lose faith in the system and why voters lose faith in the electoral process. That apathy is why voter turnout continues to decrease and law-abiding citizens first decide to break the law themselves – they finally realize that crimes are rarely punished. The good give up, the average becomes apathetic and the corrupt thrive. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
When bad guys don’t get punished, who gets the blame usually? The police. But the truth is, oftentimes its not the police, it’s the prosecutor. When the prosecutor is more of a political animal than a lover of the law and of justice, then he is part of the problem and needs to be fired.
Also, when the Arkansas State Police (and God bless them for we love and need them) is used as a tactical shield for a perpetual, repetitive, never ending investigation that always brings the “we can’t answer that because the matter is still under investigation” response – it is a political, wicked weapon in the arsenal of the corrupt.
The bottom line is, we have too much smoke and not enough justice. The wheels of secret investigations take far too long to conclude. Full disclosure is not possible until many years later and after statues of limitations expire allowing the bad guys to get off without even so much as a slap to the hand. We also see that there really are two systems of justice – one for the political big shot and one for the poor, pitiful, little guys.
The revised Judicial Oath, found at 28 U.S.C. § 453, requires an oath to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.”
Its really quite simple…its not rocket science…just charge lawbreakers with their crimes and exonerate those that are innocent. Simple right? And reelection be damned.