Thursday, November 14, 2013

A few more burnt ends

Yesterday former NFL wide receiver Sam Hurd was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiring to distribute marijuana and cocaine. He pled guilty to the charge shortly before his trial was to begin this past April. His lawyer argued for the minimum - ten years - while the AUSA presented a sentencing memo that sought a life sentence based upon the "advisory" sentencing guidelines.

Sports Illustrated ran an excellent long-form article this week on Mr. Hurd's plight. If Mr. Hurd was telling the truth when he sat down with Michael McKnight, his situation is a cautionary tale about mandatory minimums, sentencing guidelines, over-charging and police informants. It is a highly recommended read.

In other news, a Tennessee prosecutor asked a judge to prevent the defense attorney from referring to her as "the government." Tammy Rettig argued that it was a derogatory term and that it might poison the jury. Her request was denied.

Of course when we refer to the prosecutor as the "government's lawyer" we are playing off people's aversion to government. But that's not the only reason we do it. It also serves as a reminder that it is the government - not the alleged victim - that is bringing the suit. The term is also used to point out that when we allow the courts to carve out new exceptions to our rights under the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments that we are giving the government even more power over our lives.

Ms. Rettig, if you think the term is derogatory, maybe you need to take a second look at how you do what you do.

Finally we have a little something to keep our lives (and our existence) in perspective. This past July, the Cassini space probe took these amazing pictures of Saturn - and showed just how insignificant the third planet from the Sun in our solar system is in the larger scheme of the universe.

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