Friday, September 14, 2007

Defying Justice

What on Earth was the judge in this case thinking- is he wildly incompetent or completely deranged? Because I'm having trouble conceiving a valid reason for coming to the conclusion he did.

A Sheboygan County judge on Wednesday overruled a jury’s guilty verdict, acquitting a previously convicted sex offender accused of trying to lure a 9-year-old Sheboygan girl into a park shelter, officials said this morning.

According to local law the luring must be to a "secluded place" and it's on this that the judge made his ruling, right at the end of the trial and after the guilty verdict has been issued. Odd, no?

According to a criminal complaint, Pask approached the 9-year-old while she was with friends at Worker's Park on June 8, saying, “Look at those sexy little salty girls.” He repeatedly offered the girl candy while gesturing she should follow him toward the area of the shelter and the shelter’s bathroom, but she refused.

A bathroom sounds like a secluded place to me.

The jury, which earlier travelled to the park, found Pask guilty after about 30 minutes of deliberations. But Van Akkeren then overturned the verdict, saying the jury could not have determined the shelter was a secluded place as required by statute.

In other words, a jury of his peers is incapable of deciding what the word "secluded" means even when confronted with the place with their own eyes- and a convicted sex offender might be allowed to go free because of it.

DeCecco [prosecution lawyer] vehemently disagreed, adding that such a ruling is typically made far earlier in the trial process or left to the jury, which was instructed that to find Pask guilty they had to determine that the shelter was a secluded place.

In short, the jury was fully aware of what the law meant and what was required of them- but the judge evidently knows better than mere citizens.

“In our opinion, any area can be ‘secluded,’ including a park shelter, trees and large bushes — any area where a child may be sexually assaulted out of the view of other persons,” DeCecco said. “The jury, having visited the site of the incident, obviously concluded we had met that burden beyond a reasonable doubt.

And yet once again, common sense and justice are being supplanted by the decision of a lone judge.

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