Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Serving Life For Providing Car to Killers


Instead of focusing on the most prominent piece of news today, "U.S. Finding Says Iran Halted Nuclear Arms Effort In 2003," I decided to look a little left of the front page of New York Times to see what's going on in our nation's judicial system. It is an article written by Adam Liptak, and it is about how there exists a legal doctrine in the American judicial system that considers accomplices to crimes as culpable as the offenders themselves, and therefore the accomplices should recieve the same punishment as the offenders.

Liptak focused on the case of 25-year-old Ryan Holle, who has served 5 years of his life sentence without the possibility of parole due to his unwitting help to a murder that happened on March 10, 2003. He is guilty of lending a car to his friend, who later in the night, killed a girl by beating her head in.

"Mr. Holle was a mile and a half away, but that did not matter," writes Liptak.

Liptak gives the prosecutor, David Rimmer's, reasoning of why Holle should get life, saying, "No car, no crime. No car, no consequences. No car, no murder."

Rimmer seems to see the events to be transitive, almost in a seemingly simplistic manner.

Liptak is very informative in his article, giving us the history of how the law came about. More importantly, he elaborates on his the English, Indain, and Canadian courts have decided to abolish the doctrine. It is the overwhelming accordance among the common law countries that a person should be held accountable for his own acts, but not for the acts of others.

This makes America an exception when it comes to the stringent belief that a crime is directly supported by the events leading up to it. It seems to me that we could enter the realm of "what-ifs" and "maybes" if we were to adhere our lives strictly to that rule. What if I decided to throw five dollars into a homeless man's hand, does that mean I am directly responsible if he later chooses to use the money to get heroin, and while he's doped up, commits a murder?

If the situation I just brought up seemed a little unfair, we can consider the murder itself then. William Allen Jr., the man who borrowed the car from Holle had wanted to use the car to drive himself and his friends to the home of a marijuana dealer to steal a safe that contained a pound of marijuana. The situation turned ugly, and they ended up killing the drug-dealer's 18-year-old daughter.

Christine Synder, the mother and drug-dealer, said that she screamed her head off when she saw her daughter's head bashed in. She was sentences to three years for the drugs found.

If the courts wish to truly apply this doctrine to this particular case, they should not only give Holle a life sentence for being an accomplice, they should also give Mrs. Synder a life sentence, for bringing about the crime. I think the strict adherence to the law in which accomplices are just as guilty as the offenders is tragically unfair, but if the courts really wish to make full use of it, they should punish all the people involved in bringing about the murder– and that includes the mother who decided that it is safe to deal pot while she is living with her 18-year-old daughter.

One of the most important things that bornes guilt, I believe, is the intention of the action. Because Holle never intended for the girl to be murdered by his friends, his serving the jail time will not rid of him of any guilt, because he does not have any. All it would do is increase his distrust in our nation's legal system, and also render him completely cynical of the goodness of his friends.

Can you imagine? Before you decide to lend a pair of scissors to a friend, you have to weigh your pros and cons. Pro: My friend can get her craft project done. Con: She might stab her partner with them.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/04/us/04felony.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper&oref=slogin

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