Letters to the Editor

Feedback: Supreme Court strikes out

At one time I had a lot of respect for members of the court, but recent rulings by the Washington State Supreme Court have turned my respect to disgust.

I am referring to the recent decisions that freed hundreds of prisoners who had been found guilty of killing another person. As I understood the ruling, if person “A” goes looking for person “B” to “get even” and kills person “B,” then it is murder. But if person “A” goes to rob a bank and in the confrontation kills three bystanders, then “A” is guilty of only armed robbery.

Those three people are as dead as dead can be. But according to our great Supreme Court, if those three people had stayed home instead of going to the bank, they would still be alive. Don’t blame “A” for them being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And if “A” did not get any money, then he/she is guilty only of attempted robber. As I understand, the thought behind the Supreme Court ruling is, “What is in the mind of the accused.” If he/she did not act with the intent of killing then he/she is not guilty of murder. Forget the end results of many dead bodies; if the accused did not intend to kill them then they must not be dead. Are they faking it?

Intent. If that idea is to be extended to other events, then consider this. In World War I, Alvin York and his fellow soldiers were pinned down by German machine gun fire. York moved off to the side and got on the flank of the Germans, killing 32, taking 128 prisoners and getting the Medal of Honor. Being a very religious person, he did not set out to “kill” 32 German soldiers, only to silence the machine guns. So, do we revoke his Medal of Honor because he did not intend to kill or capture those Germans, only stop the machine guns?

And a little closer to Washington state. In the world of baseball, Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki is well known for getting hits, mostly singles, but not home runs. Here we are, at the bottom of the ninth, score tied at 0-0, one out and the bases are loaded. Ichiro at bat. One of his singles or a sacrifice fly would do the job. Ichiro hits a ball to right field that looks like a sure sacrifice fly and a Seattle 1-0 win. But a slight gust of wind sends the ball just out of reach of the right fielder and into the stands. Do the umpires let only the one run score from third base for a Seattle 1-0 win, because Ichiro was only trying for a single or a sacrifice fly, or do they rule it a Seattle 4-0 win because Ichiro in fact hit a grand slam home run? I sure hope the conditions never arise where members of the Supreme Court must be at Safeco Field, ruling on what was the intention of the players.

I remember many long years ago, a basketball game in which a friend of mine took the ball in after the other team had scored and took a one point lead. He turned and fired the ball to the other end of the court, with the intention of a teammate taking the ball in for two points and a win. But my friend’s throw was a little more than he figured, and it went in for a basket and the two points that won the game. By the Supreme Court’s standards, should my friend be credited with two points and the winning basket, or should his teammate be given credit for the winning basket, as he was the intended target of my friend’s throw?

I am sure that at some time during their time as members of the Supreme Court, those judges have the correct decision. Maybe even more than once. But to say a person is less dead because the accused did not intend for anyone to die is a bunch of manure. The victim is 100 percent dead. No one is 50 percent dead because of the intent of the wrong doer. In life and death it is 0 percent or 100 percent. There is no half way.

Robert Brown

Oak Harbor

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Sep 20 edition online now. Browse the archives.