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Nitpicking JudgesThere they go again. The Maryland...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Nitpicking Judges

There they go again. The Maryland Court of Appeals has ordered a new trial for the two individuals convicted in the killing of Jay Bias because the prosecutor used 16 of his 20 peremptory strikes to exclude prospective women jurors.

The only problem is that eight of the 12 jurors who heard the case and rendered conviction were women.

I agree that deliberately excluding jurors of one race or sex can produce an unfair trial.

Only in this case, it didn't happen. The error, if there was error, was harmless.

The four judges in the majority were not engaging in protecting our rights; rather, they were engaging in social engineering

Good law enforcement techniques are useless when the state's highest court engages in nitpicking as opposed to protecting rights.

In this case, it would have been perfectly proper for Maryland's highest court to warn prosecutors that if they use peremptory strikes to create unfair juries, a new trial may result. Now the state must go to the expense of a new trial even though there is no evidence that a different jury would have rendered a different verdict.

In 1994, Maryland will elect a new governor. One of the most important campaign issues should be what kind of judges he/she will appoint to the state's highest court.

John P. Greenspan

Wheaton

Public Enemies

Is the Parole Board playing Russian roulette with our lives?

How else can one explain a man with the abysmal record of Jerome Page being allowed to freely walk the streets?

His record: In 1975 an assault conviction and three-year sentence for his part in a gang rape of a Columbia-area woman; a 1978 second-degree murder conviction; a 25-year prison sentence for stabbing a man in the neck with a fork and while on parole arrested on drug possession charges.

Why aren't we being protected from such an obviously dangerous criminal?

The Parole Board continues its lenient policies with unmitigated regularity hoping and praying a hideous incident does not occur. In this case it did. Amanda Lee Hall was raped, sodomized and murdered.

Whoever facilitated Jerome Page's release should be held accountable as an accessory before the fact.

The Governor should have the final word in approving the release of career criminals and murderers who could prove a danger to society.

If it is incumbent upon our government to protect us from our enemies without, why not the same consideration to protecting us from our enemies within?

Miriam Topel

Baltimore

Cheapskate State

So Nelson Sabatini, the head of Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, believes that "we need to do all we can to see that all who could be insured, are insured" (The Sun, May 2).

Might I suggest that the first step the State of Maryland could take is to put its own house in order?

Contractual employees at state universities are not offered health insurance benefits.

These are full-time jobs and the contracts are routinely renewed year after year. In many cases, these people work alongside regular state employees, who do get health benefits, doing exactly the same job.

One of the causes of the current health care crisis is the desire of some employers to get the job done as cheaply as possible by not offering health benefits.

Frankly, I am surprised to find the State of Maryland among the ranks of these employers.

George Lunn

Baltimore

Chimps and AIDS

Meredith F. Small's review of Dale Peterson and Jane Goodall's book, "Visions of Caliban" (April 25), makes the wrong assumption about the use of chimpanzees in AIDS research.

Although humans and chimps share many social characteristics and 98 percent of our DNA, only humans get AIDS. Chimps can be infected with HIV but, unlike in humans, the virus stays inert and does not progress to AIDS.

This is why, in January 1992, the World Health Organization decided to bypass animal trials of an AIDS vaccine in favor of direct human trials.

Almost all we know about AIDS -- from its means of transmission, prevention protocols, isolation of the virus, etc. -- has come from clinical, epidemiological, and in vitro research, not from animal experiments.

We have dumped too many dollars into the bottomless pit of animal experimentation with too little payback. We should direct our medical priorities away from animal experiments and toward proven scientific research -- clinical studies, epidemiology and in vitro research.

Neal D. Barnard, M.D.

Washington

Better News

What does a story have to say in order to rate front-page coverage?

"Singer trades welfare for studio" in The Sun April 26 was good news, and yet it was relegated to the back page of Section B. Certainly, it was a story that could give hope to persons on welfare and, at the same time, renew hope for those of us who pay taxes.

Instead of putting that story on the front page, you printed two stories of the gay march on Washington on the front page.

Is it I who expects too much from print media?

Laura E. Mitchell

Baltimore

Are Women Capable of War's Savagery?

Your April 29 editorial, "Women in Combat," argues against gender norming -- the application of double standards favoring servicewomen over men, as now practiced. You conclude: "Standards that legitimately relate to combat readiness have to be gender-neutral -- the same for men and women." I answer as a combat infantry officer.

The legal standard for men has been that those who refuse to obey lawful orders may be shot to death by firing squads. Do you urge Congress to authorize the killing of servicewomen, the same as men?

The legal standard for men is that all members of the armed forces -- without exception -- are available to serve in, as or with front line infantry.

This includes sailors, airmen, musicians, medics, chaplains, cooks, clerks and everyone else, regardless of rank -- excepting women only. Do you urge Congress to authorize all military services to order women into action with front line infantry?

With the exception of legal noncombatants -- medics and chaplains -- all servicemen without exception, when ordered into action with the ground combat arms (infantry, armored cavalry, combat engineers, field artillery, air-defense artillery, signal corps) are expected to kill enemy soldiers, both at long range and face to face.

As an officer, a female combat airplane pilot, helicopter pilot or naval officer must be prepared to shout: "Fix bayonets and follow me!" To expect anything less of her would be outrageous gender norming. Do you want servicewomen ordered to cut the throats of presumably decent young men wearing the enemy uniform? If not, why not? Can a female be simultaneously a fighter and a lady?

Do you want foreign men -- any of whom may find themselves at war with our country from time to time -- to be told that we expect them to cut our women's throats, since our women will be ordered to cut their throats?

What do you expect the young men of foreign countries to think about this? Has the thought occurred to you that they would consider us war criminals and act accordingly? Remember that front line soldiers are not obliged to take prisoners.

Never before in all history has any society approved of the sexes being ordered to slaughter each other deliberately. What you advocate is violation of a fundamental biological taboo. Are you too stupid to grasp this? Do you really want to destroy civilization with such savagery?

With respect to the military, feminists demand the best of two worlds. They want choices -- denied legally to men. The women suppose that if they can volunteer into "combat," they could always volunteer out. What they seek is status, money and a means of belittling men. But the feminists cannot get away with such double standards. Men would demand legal choices too, the result being that on the day of battle there would be nobody left to face the enemy.

In war, the role of a combat soldier, especially when in or with infantry, is not a "career choice" or "job" -- because it has no reasonably foreseeable future beyond death or mutilation. Officers lucky enough to survive, grow old and become generals are obeyed by a new crop of cannon fodder because of what the old men did when still young enough to fight.

Women want to become colonels and generals ordering men to die or be crippled even though, when young, such women were immune from facing danger. That stinks.

Willis Case Rowe

Catonsville

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