“And it goes without saying, what we do is always about justice”

I’m so glad we have people to help bring things like this to light. Remember, these are your tax dollars at work.

Mark Bennett recently blogged about an email he received from a source he identifies only as Mr. X. In it, several “competitions” for the assistant district attorneys are announced. I’ll quote just one of them here so you can get an idea what I’m talking about (I’ve left typos/spacing/punctuation errors intact):

Trial Court Award
If a court tries and completes THREE jury trials in a single week, the prosecutors in that court can comp. out by lunch time the following Friday. It is encouraged that the members of the court do something together….lunch, movie, bowling. Who will cover their court in their absence…keep reading. The court (that has a 2 and a 3) that does not try any cases the same week the winning court(s) tries three cases, will have to cover the duties for the winning court. If all courts , that have a 2 and a 3, try cases it will be up to Justin, Rachel, and I to cover. We have excluded five courts from this competition for equity purposes.

The email concludes with a paragraph starting with the quotation I chose for the title:

And it goes without saying, what we do is always about justice. Hopefully this will allow us to have some fun while we strive to achieve it…..

I don’t know how getting the most trials done inside of a week is about justice. Mark is right on when he rips the DA’s office for what he calls “summer-camp contests” and a “fratboy game.” I concur with Mark’s opinion here, and hope that we can shine more light on what is at best a dubious “contest” among attorneys we pay with our tax dollars to achieve justice. And justice is not always about getting the most convictions, or getting through the most trials in a week.

Mark also links to a post from 2009 March about trying “whales” or cases the prosecution thinks are sure wins (“Whales are cases that the State thinks it couldn’t possibly lose–like shooting whales in a barrel.”). Seriously, if the assistant DAs need to take cases like this to trial (especially if a defendant is willing to plead guilty) then I’m uncomfortable with such assistant DAs practicing with real cases. They need to go back to law school and get their practice in moot court.

Just because it’s tasteless doesn’t make it child porn

This is one of those stories. The kind that gets my blood boiling. The kind where I read it, take a step back from the computer, pour myself another glass of my beverage of the evening (tonight, it happens to be iced tea), shake my head, and say “Wow.”

Dr. Marty Klein’s blog Sexual Intelligence features this story of Evan Emory. Evan did something that, in all honesty, is patently devoid of anything resembling good taste or decency. Frankly, typical college fraternity exploits are in better taste than this.

From Dr. Marty’s article (by the way, in keeping with my convention of referring to the “good guys” by first names, I hope nobody minds if I call him that):

Last month, Evan received permission to play a song for a first-grade class. Under the watchful eye of their teacher, Evan sang “Lunch Lady Land” and, with school permission, videotaped the event. So far, everyone wins.

This stupid jackass goes home, edits the video, and splices in shots of himself singing sexually explicit lyrics, so it looks like he’s singing that to the kiddies. The lyrics, by the way, are not about them. He apparently thinks it’s hilarious–sophomoric humor on steroids. Three days ago he puts it up on YouTube with the disclaimer that “no actual children have been exposed” to the song.

The blog post goes on to state that Evan has been charged with, in essence, making kiddie porn, and is facing 20 years in prison. And this is the part I take exception to. As tasteless as this as, I don’t think he should be subject to criminal sanctions. Has he entered the “I deserve to have the pants sued off of me by angry parents” zone? Most definitely. Does his reputation deserve to be tarnished for a good long while? Damn right.

Does Evan deserve to be tagged “child pornographer” and get stuck checking the “yes” box next to “have you been convicted or pled guilty or no contest to a felony?” on job applications for the rest of his life? No way.

I’ll relay the best personal anecdote I have here. My late grandfather (he passed away in 2002) was an avid photographer. We had a trailer out in the country where we’d go on some weekends, which was a good three-hour drive from Houston. (We were able to receive Austin and San Antonio TV stations, if that helps give you an idea of about where it was.)

Anyway, one of the aftermarket modifications to this semi-permanently-parked trailer was a porch built around two sides. We’ll call them the north and east sides, with the front door on the north side. On the east side, there was a water spigot that extended some couple of feet above the porch. Just the perfect height.

So my grandfather got the idea to do some trick photography. He had me pose in front of the spigot and cup my hand about crotch-high, with my pants still on and zipped up. With the spigot turned on, a picture taken from the right angle would look like I was urinating, with the spigot and pipe leading to it nowhere in sight. (And, I might add, with an unrealistic stream for someone my age.)

I’m not sure what became of the picture, and yes, I will admit it was in pretty poor taste. But I thought it was hilarious, and I’m assuming my grandfather did too. The drug store photo clerk probably got a chuckle or three as well. (This is back when we still had Eckerd drugstores, which incidentally is quite probably where he took this roll to be developed.) I don’t consider myself abused from this incident. Not in the least. We made a picture together that was as funny as hell, even if my grandmother and whatever other relatives that saw it disapproved.

The only reason I can tell this story today is because my grandfather can’t possibly face any legal action for it, having passed away some eight years and change ago. And I think that’s sad. But to answer the question I know some of you are asking, no, I don’t think he would have posted it to Flickr, at least not as publicly viewable.

And of course, I wouldn’t dare take a similar trick photography picture of my kids today. It is a shame that we as a society have literally gone crazy with the passange and enforcement of sex-related laws. In fact, there are so many silly laws based solely on intent, solely on “he/she thought it was a minor, therefore he/she is guilty.”

It’s a real shame otherwise good people like Evan Emory find themselves facing felony charges, for things that in all honesty shouldn’t be crimes. And again, this shouldn’t be a crime. Ripe fodder for a barrage of civil suits, yes, but not a crime.

Again, Dr. Marty hits it on the head:

Which child was sexually abused? None.

What harm has any child experienced? None.

If any child has been “harmed,” has that child been “sexually abused?” No.

So, two points in conclusion.

Even though he does not deserve a felony conviction for it, and I honestly hope the charges are dropped, shame on Evan Emory.

However, the real villians here are the superintendent, John B. VanLoon; the principal, Lowell Whitaker; and prosecutor, who curiously is not mentioned by name in any of the news stories I was able to dig up. They deserve a much bigger “shame on you.” At least ten times as big, if not a hundred. So, shame on Mr. Whitaker, Mr. VanLoon, and the still-anonymous Muskegon County prosecutor. And shame on everyone who wants to see Evan get a criminal conviction on a charge he does not deserve.