Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Meaning of "Kafkaesque," NOLA Style

The court system was ineffective before Katrina and has added "chaotic," "absurd" and "self-imploding" to the list of approriate descriptors. Men and women are lost in the system and the DA is unwilling to see any violations, unfairness or gray (or plain ethical) areas. Today's Times-Pic example: "Drug case dismissed for inaction." Gregory Lewis spent 9 months in the NO criminal justice system for a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 6 months (he never got to enter a plea or go to court) but the prosecutor persisted in trying to keep him in the system:

"Mr. Lewis stands accused of possessing marijuana and a pipe with cocaine residue," [Oh Lordy, hide the chillen!!] wrote [Crosby] Lyman, a 26-year-old assistant district attorney, who argued the case Monday in magistrate court. "Having alleged drug addicts remain incarcerated longer than other individuals facing charges with similar penalties does a service, to not only the community but also to the addict, in that it allows time for the deadly poison and addiction to leave the body."
DA Eddie Jordan is actually not appealing the decision even though
"Our goal is to get convictions," Jordan said. "It's not our obligation to represent a defendant. [No one said it was.] We certainly can't do both. He did have representation. Since this person has served more time than the law would permit, we think it's in the best interest of justice not to appeal. Our goal was to have him held accountable."
Mr. Lewis was arrested for, and should have been allowed to plead one way or another to, possession, not drug addiction which, though problematic, is not criminal. (I believe it is a public health issue, that it is for health and psychiatric professionals, not prosecutors who have to hold certain beliefs to get through the day.) The purpose of jail time and prosecution is not to dry out the drug addict or the drunk but to prosecute and incarcerate dangers to the public order, be they rapists or corrupt politicians, not to act as the Moral Police busting drug addicts and preventing blow jobs. (Sodomy is safe in LA for now.) Mr. Jordan needs to live with the delusion that Mr. Lewis had representation and got a fair deal and that it is the DA's office that is the victim here (perps are all the same). I do not. And as a citizen, I couldn't give a flying fuck if Eddie Jordan and his smattering of 20-somethings get what they think are a satisfactory number of convictions. My job as an instructor is not to give out a certain number of As and Fs but to coach minds into being different than they were at the beginning of the semester. I want Jordan and company to do their fucking jobs. Murderers walk free but everyone else has to stay?

The system will not work with only one hand. People have the right, not the privilege or courtesy, to be legally represented and presumed innocent and not jailed indefinitely without being charged or jailed month after month because there are no translators available.

Time to lower my blood pressure.


Blogger Lucy said...


What a fucking travesty. The country is so focused on wars elsewhere, yet an entire culture is suffering terribly right here.

My Momma is from New Orleans and it has been surreal all the way through. Of course we have the luxury of saying that, as we live in the northeast and our homes are intact. She went back and found it very painful to be there, especially since she had lost several family members years or months before Katrina.

Recently an old friend visited my parents with his horror of a wife. This woman told us - in front of my children - about all the blacks in New Orleans being the criminals. For once I kept my mouth shut because of the deep friendship between my parents and her husband. We immediately left, but I was wrong.

I remember visiting New Orleans in the 1970s and going to Popeye's Fried Chicken (yum). We were the only white people there, and on the way we drove by tiny shacks. my parents said people lived there, but they looked like sheds to me. It was confusing. I knew something was wrong, and my parents told me it was wrong, but then it wasn't something that bothered any of our relatives there, I'm sure.

So now this ignorant lady - with a face lift that has her skin stretched back into a permanent smile - is surprised that some people who lost their homes, their jobs, their neighborhoods, might be a little angry. I dunno how many of them are black.

I know if I lost everything like that - so horribly scary - I would be enraged, too. I suspect attitudes like hers have caused a lot more suffering and inaction in New Orleans than the people who have come back and begun to commit crimes.

Wed Aug 23, 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Schroeder said...

Following Eddie's meltdown on national television, I revisited these remarks. Jordan has lost it -- well, I was never sure he ever really had it.

Thu Aug 31, 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

The only thing he had was his fucking hats.

Thu Aug 31, 01:03:00 PM  

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