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

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Sentencing In Black And White

A white teacher able to hire one of the best criminal defense attorneys in Florida gets house arrest for leaving the scene of an accident that killed two black kids.

Or:

A young 29 year old girl who panicked after a hit and run accident that killed 2 kids and then came forward and confessed to leaving the scene, receives house arrest.

Pick a headline. Read the story in the Tampa Tribune, or cnn.com

Former dance teacher Jennifer Porter, 29, of Tampa, was sentenced yesterday to 2 years of house arrest, 3 years of probation and 500 hours of community service, for leaving the scene of the accident that left 2 kids dead. She's white, the 2 kids were black.

Racial?

Perception.

Jennifer Porter was not charged with killing these children. She had no prior criminal record, for that matter, either did those kids.

So what am I saying?

First let me say that I think leaving the scene of an accident is a terrible crime. I understand why people panic and leave, but know that Porter also did not come forward immediately, and initially lied about the accident.

But.

Jennifer Porter was offered 3 years in prison by the prosecutor. She took her chances and pled guilty without an agreement, leaving it up to the judge.

He took 12 hours of testimony, until 1:30 in the morning, and felt that jail was not appropriate for whom he saw as a remorseful defendant. Trust me that this will be another instance for politicians to attack the judiciary for, well, making a decision that they don't agree with. Some idiot will argue that this judge has "run amock."

Most wanted Porter to go to jail, because most cannot fathom that any other kind of criminal sentence exists. You think Porter will do this again, you think she doesn't think about those kids every day?

What's sitting in a jail cell going to do, besides make you feel better?

3 comments:

  1. Troubling points:

    (1) dragging one child over 120'
    (2) she absolutely knew she hit people and fled the scene
    (3) time between crash & reporting
    (4) cleaning of vehicle by family
    (5) reporting was only after police and tv announced the vehicle they were looking for and i believe there was a video of her car somewhere after the crash
    (4) going to work and other places like nothing happened

    Truth: jail/prison "helps" no one - it is punishment, pure and simple.

    Truth: case had nothing to do with race.

    Truth: every case involving a fatality has no winners - period.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous9:48 PM

    yes this is just another example of the breaks the criminal justice system routinely gives to those who have cash to hire lawyers.

    your argument about jail could apply to thousands of cases. many domestic murders are simply what i call "one bad day" crimes. but for one bad day/fight with the wife gf the defendant is not going to be a threat to anyone but the person whose life he took that day. some acts simply demand punishment. some acts need to be punished so that others wont do the same thing. LSA is one of the crimes that could be committed by anyone. and to deter others this judge should have imposed some type of jail sentence so people realize that this is a serious crime.

    do you think for one minute that if some poor black person ran over this white ladies kids and she came to court asking for blood that the result wouldnt have been different?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Asking whether she'll do this again or not is the wrong question. This isn't an intentional crime, it's a split second reaction to an unexpected situation. She showed the world what her character was by her reaction. If this were to occur again I have no doubt that she'd run again. And even if we knew that she wouldn't, sometimes society needs to see people get punished for their crimes.

    ReplyDelete