Letters to the Editor

Manipulating the system

Things are slow in the winter around here but some good drama can be found outside the local theater, particularly with the perverse (yet theatrical) legal system in this country. Here’s my view from row 6, seat 9, of a legal thriller now playing locally. A distraught deputy prosecutor dismissed from their job at the county when failing to show up for work for a few months is played by Absent Amy Dempsey. Aiding and abetting her claim for retribution is personal injury lawyer pugnacious Peter Moote. The protagonist is none other than our idealistic prosecuting attorney, Greg (nose to the grindstone) Banks. The audience is the citizens of Island County who, as usual, end up financing the drama and enduring its consequences.

The plot starts out simple enough but soon evolves as absent Amy starts work in June of 2006 but quits coming to the office a few months later, claiming the election campaign made work just too uncomfortable. Prosecutor Banks fires her after two months of absence. But Amy has been doing her homework and knows the ropes to a deep pocket, so her side proceeds to file a lawsuit for $1 million claiming lost wages, emotional distress, and the like. Unfortunately the audience, that’s us, is denied the revealing courtroom showdown when the dealer in this high stakes drama, the county insurance company, folds their cards in favor of a $300,000 out-of-court settlement rather than pay six-figure in legal fees to defend our public servant.

The curtain drops, pugnacious Peter naturally claims that justice has been accomplished, and many in the audience question whether this is intermission or curtain time. To the delight of some, the curtain rises to reveal a new squabble when grindstone Greg asks that absent Amy not be allowed to act as a pro term judge in Island County contending she’s anything but objective with respect to the prosecutor’s office. Amy’s corner sees it differently and quite curiously uses the local press to publicize the favorable employment recommendation that was a condition of the out-of-court settlement, as if this proves anything.

Fortunately, the box office abhors a downer, so the play ends happily with Banks and the prosecutor’s office efficiently going about their business of administering justice in Island County. One suspects, the author of such a drama intended a message of some sort. From the cheap seats, I’d offer that despite such glaring abuses, our legal system is the best we’ve got, and when not manipulated, actually works quite well.

Dean Enell

Freeland

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