Friday, January 20, 2006

"Tire Slashing" Case Resolved: A Few Observations

It looks like the “tire slashing” case in Milwaukee has been resolved. According to the Journal Sentinel, the jury had been deliberating for about six hours when they sent a note to the judge. The note reportedly included “We have people that are adamant about their decision and are not budging. We don’t know what to do.” The defense attorneys asked for a mistrial, but Judge Brennan ruled that not enough time had transpired to declare one. Before deliberations were complete, the State offered a plea deal to the defendants. Plead “no contest” to a misdemeanor charge of criminal damage to property with state recommendations of probation and restitution. Four of the five defendants took the deal and one did not and was found not guilty by the jury.

Are the four defendants now guilty from a legal perspective? Yes, of criminal damage to property. Did they actually do it? Maybe. Did former Republican Reps Bonnie Ladwig and Steven Foti actually do what they have plead to? Probably. The point is that not everyone who pleads guilty actually committed the crime. I know, I know, I can already hear you saying “if they are not guilty why would they plead?” Try facing the exposure of being convicted of a felony and spending 3.5 years in prison. Now imagine that you get an offer to all but guarantee no jail time and no felony conviction. What would you do? Tough choice isn’t it?

Obviously the DA would not have offered the deal if they felt that they had a strong case. They got nervous and offered a good deal. They were probably smart to make the offer since most of the case (what I have kept up with) seemed to be circumstantial, and the one defendant that did not take the deal was found not guilty.

One more observation. I’m sure that Wisconsin’s right wing conspiracy theorists (insert name of your favorite blogger or radio host here)will start making all kinds of statements about what they think happened that night. Since I don’t want to be left out of all of the fun, let me offer my own “theory.” IN MY PERSONAL OPINION (to avoid one of those GOP frivolous lawsuits) I think that it may have been Karl Rove rolling around in the mud that night. See, this way they could sabotage their own vehicles, blame it on the other guys and get a lot of free political mileage. That would fit Rove’s MO since he is suspected by many of bugging his own guy in Texas and blaming the other guy.
OK that’s not what really happened, but it is just as legit as some of the right wing conspiracies that we might hear soon.

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