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Justice served?

Posted: Tue May 20, 2008 6:45 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
An editorial in the May 20, 2008, Tomahawk Leader:

A recent Lincoln County Circuit Court proceeding has us questioning the outcome.

In October of 2006, several Merrill High School students attended an underage drinking party in the town of Bradley. One of the students was a foreign exchange student from France. After a night of drinking, he tragically died from alcohol poisoning and a rare neurological disorder. Three young men who were found to have brought the alcohol to the party were each charged with felonies of procuring alcohol for a minor resulting in death.

According to public records, these youths had no real brushes with the law prior to the party. The district attorney offered each teen a plea agreement that placed them on a deferred prosecution, which they accepted and a judge approved. This meant the felony criminal charge would be reduced to a fine of providing alcohol to an underage person, if the teens followed orders to not consume alcohol, be in taverns, undergo drug and alcohol counseling and put in community service time, among other stipulations.
Recently, after a year of apparently following the rules of the plea agreement, the felony charges were put aside and each of the three teens was ordered to pay a $753 fine and costs for a civil charge of providing alcohol to a minor.

It is the opinion of one versus the other on how severely these youth should have been punished. Some readers probably feel the book should have been thrown at them, while others may think this is just kids being kids.

However, we are led to question why one of the teens was cleared of the felony charge when, in fact, he did not follow the stipulations of the plea agreement. According to Wisconsin court records, this teen was caught and convicted of first offense operating while intoxicated. He also had a few additional brushes with the law. He was convicted of resisting an officer and operating with a suspended license several times, for example.

We did not want to see these three young men become convicted felons before they even left high school. And we support giving second chances in our justice system, especially to youth. However, it is difficult to understand why this teen was not ordered to additional counseling or a longer probationary period to assure he is not a threat to the public.

Was justice served?

Re: Justice served?

Posted: Tue May 20, 2008 9:48 pm
by NurseNell
>>>Was justice served?<<<

No, it wasn't. A young person is dead. If a person did not follow through on the light sentence given then sorry, the felony goes back on the record and he does time. Does he need to contribute to the death of yet another person? Or kill someone with his choice to drink and drive? He is a threat to the public safety.

Re: Justice served?

Posted: Sat May 24, 2008 9:40 pm
by MedicDVG
I would tend to agree that justice was not served in this case. I am all in favor of forgiveness and rehabilitation, however, this is not a one way street. By violating the terms of his plea agreement the charges should be reinstated and a hearing as to more appropriate sentencing should be conducted. What message are we sending if the justice system allows for the ignoring of the court's instruction?

It is a sad thing that a guest of Tomahawk died in such a preventable and senseless way; lets not compound this tragedy with allowing this flagrant violation of the terms of the probation to go uninvestigated.

Re: Justice served?

Posted: Mon May 26, 2008 11:24 pm
by Jeff Boettcher
If after agreeing to the plea bargain, an individual breaks that agreement, then he/she should be prosecuted for the full penalties of the original offense. They were given a chance to minimize the penalties, but then showed their disrespect for the entire process by breaking the law again.