Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No freedom for Drew! Will Rod soon join him? And what about Troy?

We’d like to think we live in a society where logic and reason always prevails, and where we have control of our raw emotion so that we don’t let our distaste for someone guide us into potentially erroneous actions.

Ah! Who are we kidding? We live in a society where that gut reaction often guides our thoughts, particularly when it comes to people we can’t stand.

THAT DEFINITELY APPLIES to every single person who heard the speculation recently that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich could face a prison term between 30 years and life, and somehow had a smirk break out on their face.

Personally, I’m inclined to think 30 months in a federal corrections facility is too long a sentence for Blagojevich. But I know the politically partisan distaste that  many felt for the man when he had the unmitigated gall (in their opinions) to run for governor in the first place is now being manifested in wanting him put away extra long.

Yet it’s not a fluke emotion being expressed here. It comes up all too often.

It definitely is behind the criminal proceedings taking place these days in Will County Circuit Court, where prosecutors are trying to put one-time Bolingbrook cop Drew Peterson in prison on charges that he killed wife number three.

OF COURSE, MANY people want to believe that Peterson also killed wife number four – whose disappearance several years ago is what first drew the public spotlight on Drew.

The man is cocky, arrogant and smug – although I wonder how much of that is an act meant to help him bear with the fact that he has spent the past couple of years in a county jail awaiting trial.
PETERSON: Too many enemies?

There have been concerns about the evidence that could be used against Peterson, particularly since some of it involves statements supposedly made by wife number four about the death of wife number three (which originally was classified as accidental – and only became homicide after Peterson became too high-profile a case because of the last wife’s disappearance).

It is because of those concerns that the pre-trial process has taken so long (he was supposed to have gone on trial last year).

IT ALSO IS why Peterson’s attorneys tried the long-shot legal motion of trying to get him released from jail while the process continues. Being incarcerated for so long without a criminal conviction must surely be wrong!

Not quite.

The Illinois Supreme Court this week rejected Peterson’s request for freedom – unless he can come up with the 10 percent of the $20 million bond that was set for him (which was set so high to ensure there would be no way he could possibly come up with the money to be set free).

But just envision what would have happened had the Illinois high court ruled in a way that set Drew free? Somehow, I could envision the political outcry being more intense than the days of the late-1990s when Justice James Heiple was all the rage.

HE JUST TRIED to use his court credentials to get out of a traffic ticket – and wound up having to appear before an Illinois House panel that considered (but never got around to) impeachment.

Just think of what our Legislature would do to the entire Supreme Court of Illinois if they ruled in favor of Peterson. Impeachment for all?!?

Or else we’d have some people in our society demanding recall elections for the entire General Assembly!

This is one of those criminal cases where logic and the rule of law are easy to ignore because too many people want the worst to happen. Which may well mean that Peterson could be the one person who could identify with Blagojevich’s current predicament when he faces sentencing (possibly) next month.

BUT IF YOU want the ultimate in cases that bring out raw emotion, consider the predicament of Troy Davis – who may well be dead by the time you read this.
DAVIS: Doomed?

Davis was the Death Row inmate in Georgia who has supporters claiming there is evidence he “didn’t do it” – which in his case involves the death of a police officer in Savannah.

A “cop killer!!!!!” That’s enough to make many people want to ensure he gets a death sentence. It stirs up the emotions in some people to the point where they don’t want to hear about any flaws in the evidence that was used to find him guilty by a jury in Georgia.

You can put the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles in that class. They rejected his final appeal for clemency on Monday. Unless someone came out of the woodwork on Tuesday to express sympathy (all too unlikely), he was doomed to die early Wednesday.

FOR THIS REASON alone, I’m pleased that Illinois has done away with the death penalty. For this is the ugly side of the capital punishment debate, and I am pleased we’re not going to have to cope with it any longer in our home state.

We’ll have enough ugliness expressed when Blagojevich gets sentenced, and Drew goes to trial.


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