Monday, September 14, 2009

Radley Balko pens another excellent column for Reason Magazine

Radley Balko, known primarily around these parts for his work on the Dr. Steven Hayne front, has put together a good read on something that I find particularly troubling in our society today: the growing need to find someone criminally responsible for any tragedy.

In his latest article, Balko writes about the troubling case of Kevin Kadamus, a Vermont father who accidentally shot his son while turkey hunting. Balko's paints a picture in which the populous seems to be screaming for "justice" when confronted with a horrible accident. Balko's point is that we, as a society, place prosecutors in a very awkward position:

When was the last time you read a big story about your local district attorney declining to bring charges? It happens, of course. But it isn't covered. Even rarer, when was the last time a prosecutor was praised for such restraint? (The one exception might be police-involved shootings.) The truth is that prosecutors are praised, reelected, and promoted based on the cases they win, and on the number of people they put away.

This is a fundamental problem with our justice system, I believe. We ask the public to choose prosecutors, but the public has a poor view of what we as a society actually ask the chosen prosecutor to do. Thus, the prosecutor is faced with an oath that requires him to be a minister of justice, and employers (the people) who want him to find an evil motive where none exists.

6 comments:

hicken said...

Good post. It isn't always someone's fault. Sometimes an accident doesn't require someone to be at fault. This is true in both criminal and civil cases.

Jane said...

There was an article a while back in the WSJ (I think it was the WSJ, NMC linked to it) along the same lines but focusing on cases where a parent was prosecuted for his/her infant's death after leaving the child in the back seat of the car.

I recall the former Madison County DA (the one before Michael Guest) refusing to prosecute a grandfather in one of these cases much to the DA's credit.

Bardwell said...

So you've got a libertarian arguing for more social justice through less democracy.

Not that I disagree with his approach. It's just an interesting position for a libertarian to occupy.

ShavesWithAnOccamsRazor said...

Common sense should enter into the equation at some point. But I digress.

grspore said...

where's the remedy? appointments? does his approach not make sense at the judicial level as well? Justice Pierce's attacks on former Justice Diaz spring to mind. perhaps I'm making little sense as I've just read for local gov't..

grspore said...

where's the remedy? appointments? does his approach not make sense at the judicial level as well? Justice Pierce's attacks on former Justice Diaz spring to mind. perhaps I'm making little sense as I've just read for local gov't..