Not Guilty!

Just wear this in court and make it easy on the jury.
Just wear this in court and make it easy on the jury.
I hope you never have to go to court. I truly pray that you are never charged with a crime or forced to sue someone or anything like that. If you’ve ever seen the TV commercial where the biker, after all the evidence clearly shows his guilt, simply claims innocence and gets set free you have a pretty good idea of how the system really works. It’s supposed to be about laws and truth and justice but it’s just as often about whether the judge got any the night before, how prejudiced he or she is against whatever you are and so on. Justice is supposed to be blind, mute and stupid seem to be bonuses.

Laws are also supposed to make sense. Just to show how this isn’t the case, let me run this one past you; in Florida, naturally, it is a more heinous offense to kill an alligator than it is to serve alcohol to a minor. In fact, assuming you don’t kill anyone, whacking a gator can get you more jail time than a felony DUI. So, if you’re in Florida feel free to grab your keys, your kids and a couple cases of Blatz. You’re good to go.

While we’re talking about insane things, do you remember this fun line you hear on TV every time a crook gets caught; “You have the right to an attorney, if you can not afford an attorney one will be provided for you …”? What they don’t tell you is that in Illinois, Florida and 11 other states, you will be charged for that attorney at the prevailing rate, usually around $150.00 an hour. Since the majority of people who need this service are unemployed, barely employed or incapable of being employed, even if they’re found innocent they’ve accumulated thousands of dollars in debt they’ll never be able to replay. Which suddenly makes them a serious credit risk. Which means they can’t rent an apartment or qualify for gas or electric connections without paying huge fees up front and so on. You can forget about cable.

In another Kafkaesque legal moment, Tiffany Startz, a Joliet woman, punched a guy in the face over a $5 bet and the guy died. He died because the punch aggravated a congenital defect, not because she’s anywhere near strong enough to do real damage. She is now facing felony charges and could spend up to 25 years in prison. The theory being brought by the prosecution is so vague that every child who plays slug bug could be brought to trial. Nevertheless, Judge Edward Burmila (who clearly hasn’t gotten any in a very long time) bought into it and now this young lady has to go through the system. Here’s hoping sanity prevails and she gets set free.

Then again if sanity was available this would have been thrown out long before it got this far.

Speaking of sanity, in Florida (obviously) you can claim you were hopped up on Red Bull and get away with murder. Well, murder of a human, alligator killings are still forbidden. Michael Sheridan from the NY Daily News has the whole story.

A Florida man accused of suffocating his father while hopped up on Red Bull was found not guilty Wednesday by reason of insanity.

Stephen Coffeen dodged prison and will instead be committed to a state hospital under the auspices of the state Department of Children and Families, a judge ruled.

The 42-year-old was accused of killing his father, Robert Coffeen, 83, with a pillow in 2009.

Coffeen will spend at least six months in a mental institution in Chattahoochee, according to Fox 13 in Tampa Bay.

“He got away with murder,” said his brother, Thomas Coffeen, the St. Petersburg Times reported. “Let 12 Floridians make the decision, not four ‘experts.'”

Four experts examined Stephen Coffeen and each concluded he did not understand the consequences of his actions at the time of the crime.

He told ABC News that his sibling never exhibited any signs of mental illness in the past.

“He was jealous of me,” Thomas Coffeen said. “I was always the more successful one. I had a family, he didn’t. He came down here after 11 years and he meant to do harm to my father.”

One of the experts indicated Coffeen was sleep deprived and consumed several cans of Red Bull the night of the murder. It became known as the “Red Bull Defense.”

However, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley argued the caffeinated energy drink was not a major factor in her judgment.

“This case is not and never has been about Red Bull,” she said.

No, it was supposed to be about murder and, as noted above, this guy got away with it. Under Florida law he will be re-evaluated in six months, if he’s found to be sane off he goes free and clear. I mean, seriously, imagine for a second someone using that line of reasoning on you at work.

“Well, Bob, I’m sorry I blew up the copier and tore off Mrs. Hossenpfeffer’s cltohes, but I was hopped up on Red Bull ….”

Welcome to unemployment Mr. Red Bull abuser.

Oddly enough, there was a similar case in North Carolina. A man argued that he was drunk most of the times he raped his niece and, therefore, wasn’t in control of his faculties. The Appellate Court, as soon as it got done laughing, issued a stern rebuke and sent the nice man back to prison where he belongs.

Hmm, maybe there are still a couple of sane judges out there after all.

Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!

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