Murder case dismissal shows justice system fails...


Murder case dismissal shows justice system fails victims, citizens

A woman waits more than three years for justice in the brutal murder of her 21-year old son, only to be told that the four defendants accused of the crime have had the charges dismissed because of repeated postponements of their trial date ("Murder case against 4 is dropped due to delays," Jan. 6).

Baltimore Circuit Judge Roger W. Brown dismissed the cases because of a recent decision by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which threw out the sex-crime conviction of a man after his case had been postponed nine times for lack of a courtroom.

Have we gone totally mad in this country? Are murder victims and their survivors to be denied justice because of bureaucratic snafus?

Allowing four suspected murderers to go free on a technicality is the height of obscenity in a nation that calls itself civilized.

In addition to making a mockery of the law, this absurd ruling put the four suspects back on the street, thereby jeopardizing the lives of other citizens.

What is it going to take before common sense replaces this mind-numbing excursion into statutory dementia? How many people have to be murdered?

Bob Weir, Flower Mound, Texas

I was shocked when I read that Judge Roger W. Brown had dismissed murder charges against four men because the trial had been frequently postponed ("Murder case against 4 is dropped due to delays").

No murder trial should be dismissed because of postponements, and no murder trial should be subject to excessive delays. Any logical approach to scheduling trials should give priority to important cases, and no case is more crucial to the maintenance of social justice than a murder case.

The dismissal of a murder case suggests to everyone that murder is considered to be of little importance. One of those charged in the dismissed case already may have heard that message because he was charged with a second murder while awaiting trial.

Particularly chilling is the fact that one of the postponements was because prosecutors had to find transcripts of testimony from the state's chief witness, who was slain.

Judge Brown's decision must be appealed by the prosecution. The dismissal of this case is evidence of a failure of the judicial system to fulfill its function, which is to maintain the degree of order required for society to operate and to redress the wrongs done to the victims of crime.

The decision by Judge Brown constitutes a virtual collapse of the judicial system. The decision must be reversed, and a logical approach to scheduling trials must be instituted immediately if the citizens of this city are to have any confidence in their courts.

Paul D. McElroy, Baltimore

How did our court system come to produce such a malignant state of affairs ("Murder case against 4 is dropped due to delays")?

The proponents of the swift-justice rule purport such a ruling to be in the best interest of the public. Baloney.

The four released may or may not have killed a mother's only child, Shawn Suggs. One of the four involved has been charged with yet another murder while out on bail.

The four men are innocent until proven guilty during their day in court, but they apparently will never go to court for that crime.

If only the survivor of the victim could sue the state of Maryland for negligence and murder. Yes, murder, because the state of Maryland has killed any hope for justice that Mamie Suggs may have carried in her heart.

Katherine M. Ambrose, Kingsville

Police Blotter not reporting all Central District crime

Why is it that your Police Blotter seems to focus on crimes in all areas of our city except the Central District?

I have a business in Mount Vernon and see a lot of crime.

On Jan. 7, I went to court in the trial of three men who broke into my equipment. All had records a mile long. One of the men received a nine-month sentence, another received a 71-day sentence, a third plea-bargained out and the fourth had his case moved to the inactive docket.

A week before the trial, someone broke into my home in Bolton Hill, stealing $4,100 worth of goods. No arrest was made.

Three years ago, I lived in the 700 block of N. Charles St. A friend and I were held up at gunpoint. We caught the suspect, who was out on parole for armed robbery. We went to court five times over this incident.

It was plea-bargained, and the robber received a three-month sentence.

But none of this was ever reported in the Police Blotter. These are just a few things that have happened to me. I could go on and on.

That is not to mention all the people whose car windows get broken out, all the people who are getting held up on Charles Street, other homes and businesses getting broken into and the aggressive panhandlers.

Is this a ploy to cover up and protect the image of the Inner Harbor for visitors to Baltimore?

Don Davis, Baltimore

Tighter nursing home study would raise elder-care cost

The sentiments expressed in the letter "Improved nursing homes need improved regulation" (Jan. 2) are generally to be lauded, but the increased government oversight and more stringent care standards would significantly increase the cost of elder care.

The increased expense would extend not only to nursing homes but to assisted-living homes, where less-intensive care is needed, and the costs are significantly reduced. The new standards would cause some of these homes to go out of business, particularly the smaller facilities that often charge less than the assisted-care facilities run by large companies and nonprofits.

The government is increasing the cost of elder care, ostensibly to benefit the consumer. But the cost is less health-care choice and the impoverishment of succeeding generations. Compassionate mom-and-pop operations can never emerge to care for the elderly. Only big government, allied with large for-profit and nonprofit corporations, will be left. What a dismal prospect.

I propose that one should be allowed to choose the care to receive late in life by outlining wishes in a living will. Besides saving money, improving competition and preventing malevolent children from shanghaiing their parents into hellholes for the dying, this proposal would improve future relationships between Generation X-ers and baby boomers. We do not need an intergenerational war.

Kevin Fansler, Havre de Grace

Polls important to Clinton -- only if they support him

Apologists for President Clinton are quick to suggest that Congress is ignoring polls showing that the American people do not want him convicted -- or even tried -- in the U.S. Senate. According to them and representatives of the administration, the polls should be honored.

In your Jan. 7 edition, an article appears under the headline "Statue of Liberty bests Sacagawea in poll on $1 coin." That article reports that the General Accounting Office took a poll asking which image should appear on the new $1 coin. Sixty-five percent of those polled responded that they preferred the Statue of Liberty while only 27 percent wanted Sacagawea, the Shoshone girl who assisted Lewis and Clark's 1804 expedition.

The Treasury Department has said, as indicated in your article, that Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin will ignore the poll results and continue with his choice of the Indian girl.

Which is it? Have the polls lost their punch with the administration? Or is this still another instance of demonstrated arrogance on the part of the White House?

Frank Harbin, Parkville

Prayer instead of sex-ed would help teen-agers

The best news for Sun readers was the letter "Morality key to reducing pregnancy" (Jan. 2), submitted by Sy Steinberg.

After a quarter century of Roe vs. Wade nonsense and disastrous "solutions" to curb teen pregnancy, Mr. Steinberg brings a realistic approach that targets the true cause of the problem.

It reminds us that "when all else fails, try prayer." Prayer back in the schools could replace safe-sex education and spare vulnerable teens the heartache of abortion.

Eileen Fitzpatrick Bolgiano, Parkville

Pub Date: 1/11/99

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