There is a legal maxim taught in the first year of law school which states that "bad facts make for bad law." I'm afraid that this is a prime example ("If defendant comes up with cash, she could avoid prison," The Daily Astorian, Feb. 20).

Since when does the victim get to decide the sentence? Equal Protection demands that a victim's rights should always be secondary to the proper and fair-handed administration of justice.

It is easy to get caught up with questions such as: "Are all defendants going to be receiving the opportunity to buy their way out of prison," or "is this particular get out of jail free card just for the rich and well-connected," but such trite quips are counterproductive.

The district attorney and judge were clearly put in between a rock and a hard place, and when so positioned, it is so easy to make the argument that the ends justify the means. The problem is a system that allowed them the latitude to make this decision in the first place.

When situations such as this arise, it seems the lesson to be learned is that those aiming to commit crimes should seek to reduce their potential exposure by selecting victims that are the most vulnerable. We are teaching tomorrow's criminal element to only target those who can't afford not to be bought off.

There is nothing surprising here. Guilt or innocence often takes the back seat to convenience and judicial economy in the American court system. Those with the most money can often buy themselves out of trouble, whether they should be in said trouble or not. It is usually through superior access to adequate legal representation, but this way works too.

Unless we examine the fundamental inequities built into the system, we will continue to have stories like this one. Unfortunately, when it is the rich and powerful that both make the laws and benefit from them, there is no one left to do anything about the inequities that arise.

John Wallpe

Warrenton

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