A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

"Our Fellow Man" Much More Important Than 2 Men

Big news today in the criminal justice system. One we're trying very hard to care about, and the other, we are barely hearing about.

The Chief Justice of The United States Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, who was on the Court for 33 years, died Saturday, September 3 of Thyroid Cancer.

Joran van der Sloot, the lead suspect in the disappearance of Alabama resident Natalee Holloway from her Aruban vacation, was released from jail, making the case even colder than it has been. You remember Natalee Holloway is missing, right?

These would normally be colossal stories on any given day, but today, the big news is that the New Orleans Superdome and Convention Center are empty.

We're looking upward, not at heaven hoping Chief Justice Rehnquist is resting in peace, but at the sky hoping more helicopters are plucking people off their roofs in flooded New Orleans.

News broke of Rehnquist's death with split screens continuing to show the devastation in New Orleans, and the news of van der Sloot's release I read on the internet.

I think the lack of focus on these stories is a good thing. It shows a simple fact of American life - although statistics may show different, when our fellow man is suffering, we find it difficult to focus on anything else.

I think the Chief Justice is resting in peace knowing this.


  1. Unfortunately the death of Chief Justice is no surprise; he has been in declining health since last October when he was first diagnosed of Thyroid Cancer. The biggest no surprise is the release of Joran van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers that were seen with Holloway the night she became missing. It is evident that if you want to commit a crime and maybe do no time, go to Aruba.

    One surprise is that Hugo Chavez said on Sunday his government will send one million barrels of gasoline to supply U.S. battered regions. Here’s a man who is very critical of US foreign policies, and who Pat Robertson publicly announced the government should “take him out”.

    Another surprise was claims that our government was slow to respond because most of the victims were black. That statement would be comical if so many people did not believe it was true. The real tragedy was that “Home Land Security” and the government dropped the ball. Evacuating a city larger then the size of Great Britain is one thing, providing basic necessity’s is another.

    When our fellow man is suffering we might find it difficult to focus on anything else. But in reality we focus on ourselves. Let’s be truthful how many people in American and around the world sat back and said. “Thank God that did not happen to my city, my family, my friends, my job, my possessions.” Be honest readers, did you go to bed that night and thanked God it didn’t happen to you?

    I don’t think you’re seeing a lack of focus on the death of Chief Justice, or a lack of focus on the Aruba trio. America is in mourning, this tragedy was of biblical proportions and we will grieve for some time.

  2. You bring up some outstanding points.

    The discussion of Homeland Security "dropping the ball" (actually I dont think they ever had the ball) will grow as the days go on. Michael Chertoff has seen his last days as undersecretary. One CNN analyst put it correctly when he brought out that homeland security was created to fight terrorism. They were caught off "guard" to put it literally.

    On the selfishness of Americans, I trust there are people out there thankful it didn't happen to them, but in this case of total devastation, I believe there is a significant amount of people wondering what they would do if it did happen to them. That is a different thought than the relief that it happened elsewhere. It is a troubling thought for everyone in a hurricane prone area.

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