Because of a typographical error, the author's name on a letter to the editor about the Nathaniel Hurt trial published yesterday was misspelled. The writer was Isaac C. Lycett.
+ The Sun regrets the errors.
Hurt Trial: The Larger Issue
The sad conclusion to the Nathaniel Hurt trial has masked the real issue.
Witness after witness underscored the dilemma of the circumstances of inner-city young people.
There was the inability of little Kenny in the sixth grade, who could not manage the word "cut" when asked to read his earlier testimony, in which he had admitted to cutting Hurt's garden hose.
There were the circumstances of eight boys living together in a foster home without benefit of adult male influence. But no matter. They live together only four months and then move on to another foster home.
There was the snickering in the courtroom when Hurt, in his testimony, expressed futility in dialing 911 for help when circumstances are out of control.
There was the endless testimony about guns. How many guns were there? Where did the bullets go? Did the young man with a pistol in his belt shoot? At whom?
Justice was done in the courtroom, according to the law. Hurt was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for shooting toward 12-year-olds who were trashing his car.
He killed one. We are left to wonder, was the youngster ever
given a decent burial? We are left to wonder what's to become of Kenny, who can't read a three-letter word in the sixth grade.
And what's to become of the others in Kenny's class, whose progress is surely hampered by Kenny's slow pace.
And, in the jury room, when one juror wondered to his neighbor how Kenny could ever hold a job, the neighbor replied, not to worry. Kenny will be dead in two years.
Nathaniel Hurt's dilemma was accurately reported in this paper. He was fairly judged by a microcosm of the city's population.
The jurors were young and old, men and women, black and white. They earned their $10 per day wrestling with eight days of testimony and arriving at their decision with great difficulty.
Now, who is going to address the larger issue? What's to become of these young people who are left?
Isaac C. Lyett
The writer was a juror in the trial of Nathaniel Hurt.
Once again The Sun shows its bias and inaccuracy.
William Zorzi's April 14 article, "A shopper's guide to legislative seats," had pictures of Michael Wagner and Janice Piccinini with the caption they ". . . lost in 1994's first and second costliest Senate races."
By the paper's account, the race in which Ms. Piccinini was involved was the fourth or fifth most expensive race, and that was because Sen. Paula Hollinger was such a big spender. Ms. Piccinini was the ninth highest spender among the senators listed.
Pictures of either the first and second highest spenders or the first and second highest-spending losers would have made sense. For The Sun to publish Ms. Piccinini's picture with an inaccurate and inflammatory caption is irresponsible.
Elloyd E. Lotridge
This is in response to the April 14 letter regarding helmet laws.
Steven P. Strohmier feels that the helmet laws are "an attempt to legislate common sense." If people actually used common sense, this would not have to be legislated.
Common sense dictates that helmets protect people from serious injury in the event of an accident. Why is this so hard for the opponents of the helmet laws to understand?
Mr. Strohmier also believes that peoples' lives are being micro-managed because of the helmet laws. I find it odd that no one said this when the seat belt laws were enacted, although they were for the same reason -- personal safety.
Opponents of these laws are so concerned with their own feelings that they do not see the other part of the picture -- the financial drain on families and the millions of taxpayer dollars spent every year on people not wearing helmets who were seriously injured in accidents.
Also, Mr. Strohmier feels that he should be able to do what he wants with his own body like "other segments of our population." The main difference with most of those situations is that they do not cost other people millions of dollars.
Opponents of the helmet laws should consider this the next time they want to holler about "personal" choices.
The Race Card
It is clear in Mayor Kurt Schmoke's recent comments about teen disturbances in the Inner Harbor that he is so consumed with racial lines of division that he is no longer solving our city's many problems.
His terse dismissal of several legitimate complaints by citizens of our city has turned an issue of teen rowdiness, unfortunately typical of all races, into another little racial battle.
Is this really what a city plagued with racial tension and violence needs?
The mayor's comments tell black citizens that the only reason complaints were made is because the teens involved were black and, at the same time, tells other citizens that their claims are invalid, racist and not worth the attention of our city's government.
Instead of addressing an issue as a leader, Mayor Schmoke chose to make sides. In putting race first, he has polarized an issue that really has nothing to do with race.
Once again, he conveniently releases himself from any obligation by pitting the citizens of our city against one another. This sounds a lot like "they were federal funds anyway," or "I'll have to look into that."
Playing the race card in preparation for fall elections will prove us all losers in the end.
Racial politics may put the mayor back in office for another painfully unproductive term, but just like episodes with other racial politicians like George Wallace or Spiro Agnew, we will all lose in the long run, regardless of race.
Maryland Leads in Domestic Violence Reform
With the end of the legislative session in Annapolis, there is much to celebrate. Maryland can rightly be characterized as a leader in domestic violence reform initiatives passed this year and made law at the bill signing at the State House on April 12 . . .
When proposed, the Domestic Violence Act of 1995 included 11 separate elements, eight of which succeeded.
When this law takes effect October 1, law enforcement officers will now be required to arrest batterers who violate existing protective orders. Additionally, all protective orders will be entered into the computer system, Maryland Interagency Law Enforcement System (MILES). This change will enable a responding officer or judge to as certain quickly and efficiently if an order exists, thereby guiding their response.
Officers are also discouraged by the law in making dual arrests at a domestic violence scene. Too often arrests of a perpetrator and a victim occur when a victim has struck out in self defense. The new law encourages officers to identify the primary aggressor and make the appropriate arrest.
Filing fees that victims are asked to pay when petitioning the courts for protection orders were eliminated by this bill as well. These sorts of fees are unnecessary obstacles which confront victims who turn to the courts for emergency help.
Though each of these reforms is good news in and of itself, there is more good news. Because these leaders in Maryland's domestic violence community were informed and acted swiftly, Maryland now qualifies for much needed federal funding coming from the Violence Against Women Act.
This year, Maryland received $426,000 to help law enforcement, prosecutors and victim services programs. Next year, the funding is expected to be five times this amount.
Maryland can feel proud of this year's extensive legislative victories and know that this state is a model for others to follow.
Susan C. Mize
The writer is the executive director of Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence