Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 14, 1974, Page 6

Cedar Rapids Gazette

November 14, 1974

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Issue date: Thursday, November 14, 1974

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Publication name: Cedar Rapids Gazette

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All text in the Cedar Rapids Gazette November 14, 1974, Page 6.

Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - November 14, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Cf clar Sapida aba^ti'tt Editorial Page Thursday, November 14, 1974 Re-investigating bugs By 43-39%, public vetoes Rocky for V-P Under prodding from interested sources both in and out of government, U.S. Attorney Evan Hultman has indicated that he plans a full investigation as to whether anybody violated federal law in the alleged bugging of lawyer-client conversations at the Cedar Rapids police station. The matter came to light initially last fall as part of the Linn county attorney’s probe into allegations of police wrongdoing within the friction-blistered department. There were charges that the eavesdropping included not only at least one lawyer-client chat but other words among police personnel, prisoners and visitors without their consent. As noted in this space Dec. 14, 1973, a practice such as that is indefensible: It violates a right of privacy, it cheats, it raises dangers, it sullies the process of justice and can not be tolerated. But before the public, the justice department, the FBI, the police or anybody else gets too excited now about what happened here regarding this in time past, ay few facts need consideration too to put the whole thing in perspective: Whatever was* done in the past, there is absolutely no contention now that anything im-proper still goes on or threatens to. It was not illegal to install a sound-surveillance system in the first place. Even if unethical lawyer-client buggings took place, they violated no Iowa law. Apparently no telephones were tapped. Somebody broke a federal law only if electronic devices picked up conversations unbeknown to anybody in them. Sound surveillance for investigative purposes has been legal all along, and still is, provided that one of the parties overheard knows it and consents. Although some of the equipment legally remains in use, a high police official has voiced assurances that he personally removed the part of it allegedly employed on lawyer-client talks. The officer in charge of the detective bureau at the time of installation of equipment claimed to have been wrongly used is now deceased His successor, serving at the time the controversy over mis-use-allegations came up, has resigned from the force. The man who served as chief of police through the whole period has retired. The man who headed law enforcement operations through it all at the city council level as safety commissioner no longer holds office. In view of all this, considering the case’s focus on events long over the dam and its lack of content as to rectifying anything still done illegally, another sifting of the ashes smacks of uselessness. The public’s main concern should be with shaping up a healthy horse instead of beating on a dead one. By Louis Harris The Harm Survey Support for the designation of former (lox Nelson Rockefeller as vicepresident has slipped to the point where a 43-39 percent plurality of the American people now disapproves of his confirmation. Only two months ago, just after President Ford sent Rockefeller’s name to congress, a 55-31 percent majority approved the nomination The causes of Rockefeller's sharply eroded support are apparent from the results of this latest Harris Survey conducted Nov. 1-5 among a nationwide cross section of 1,525 adults • By 54-28 percent, a majority of the public feels that it was “not all right for him to give $2 million as gifts and loans to people he appointed .to high office." Although the former governor has maintained that these gifts were acts of generosity, his critics point out and the public agrees that it is improper for public office holders to receive gifts or personal loans from another individual. People's forum Bad hunts To the Editor: We would like to call public attention to the hunter and companion who shot and killed our little dog, a black and white terrier, as he was running in the pasture near our house east of Bertram Saturday, Nov. 9. Any person who would deliberately commit such a cruel and senseless act should not be permitted to handle any firearm. The little dog was greatly loved and was considered a member of our family. Perhaps these are the same persons who in the past have shot several of our cats while hunting in the pasture, along the road, and even in our yard. Also, a heifer with calf by its side was shot a few years ago. Cities have an ordinance banning the discharge of firearms within the city limits. Certainly rural residents are entitled to the saqie protection by law Iowa’s state legislature should pass similar legislation for rural residents. First, car and road hunting should be entirely prohibited. Second, those people louis Harris • An even larger 58-15 percent majority feels that Rockefeller was “wrong to have his brother finance a negative book about his 1970 opponent for governor of New York, Arthur Goldberg." In the post-Watergate public demand for honesty and forthrightness in public officials, both the issue and Rockefeller's handling of it after it became public have badly hurt his chances for public approval. • A 47-34 percent plurality of the public feels that “there would be a conflict of interest if he were confirmed as vice- who carry firearms for the purpose of hunting or target shooting would then have to register with their local sheriff and designate the time and place they intend to hunt or discharge their weapons. Rarely a day passes that a person or persons with guns aren’t trespassing on our property or along the road and shooting at objects and animals. An ordinance or law of the type proposed here would prevent the destruction of rural property and the senseless killing of pets, cattle, horses and humans. The next dreaded day on our calendar is the opening of deer hunting season when the hunter with his killing weapon will descend on us in even greater numbers. Dorothy L. Miller Earl Miller Route 2. Mt. Vernon Fiddler’ To the Editor: My family and I have just returned from a great evening of entertainment. We attended the opening night of Washington high school’s “Fiddler on the president because of his family's finan cial holdings and investments. ” However, this criticism of the Rockefeller wealth did not keep people from praising the good works of the various Rockefeller foundations and charitable enterprises. A thumping 71-9 percent majority believes that "he and his family have been generous in giving their money to many good causes Despite a decided turn for the worse in public attitudes toward his nomination. Nelson Rockefeller nonetheless has support in certain areas still going for him: • By 49-35 percent, a plurality feels “he is well qualified to be President if he had to take over But these latest results are down from the 59-27 percent majority who felt the same way back in early September. • By 59-28 percent, a majority believes that "Rockefeller is one of the most experienced men in public life," a percentage that is virtually unchanged over the past few months. Roof" and were superbly entertained for three hours. The entire production has that special "Suzie McDonald-Spencer Pink" touch. I realize that the play has been done before in Cedar Rapids and the movie has been out for some time, and already on TV. But this version is a lively. vibrant, entertaining example of the fine talents of many gifted students at Washington Everyone should try to schedule attendance at the play. Emmet J. Neenan 1831 Blake boulevard SE Born to starve To the Editor. Recently on TV I saw the sight of children starving. I wonder how many others felt as I did — tiny little ones brought into this world by parents who couldn't care for them I thought back to a number of years ago when vasectomies were offered to males of a foreign country, including a payment if the surgery were done. There was a cry of outrage from a religious group all over the world: No way you can deny a child a right to life. A mother’s life is secondary to the child. • By 51-28 percent, a majority also feels thai Nelson Rockefeller has a dynamic personality. • By 50 24 percent, a majority bellies Rockefeller to lie “a sound and progressive man in Ills views,” although this percentage has dropped from 81-20 percent when he was first designated for v ice president. All of these positive feelings about Rockefeller are still not enough to outweigh several more serious reservations that the public has. People were asked Do you approve or disapprove of President Ford s selection of former Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York at the nominee for vice president9 Approve Disapprove Not sure Nov % 39 43 18 Late Sept 0/ 4 7 40 13 Early Sept % 55 31 14 Ch ic aoo Tribune New York News Syndicate I now ask these same people to tare for these children in need. They said the children had a right to In* born; now will they see that they have a chance to live? Mrs Earl Moore Route 3, Cedar Rapids G. H. Bedell? To the Editor: As a Midwest historical author. I would like very much to hear from any of your readers who could give mc any information about George ll Bedell, who is believed to have lived somewhere in the Cedar Rapids-Water loo-Anamosa area during the 1880s. He was born about 1831. was a tinner by trade at Albion, N. Y„ until after the Civil war. and may have died by 1890 He may have had at least one daughter. A brother Stephen and-or sister Alice of George’s may also have lived in Eastern Iowa Descendants may bear the surname of Braun. George’s daughter may have been born about 1887. Fred Trumu 543 Aullwood road Salina. Kansas 87401 By Congressional Quarterly WASHINGTON — There s no doubt about what the Constitution says: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial " But with equal clarity statistics show that trial often is far from speedy A recent study found that the average person charged with a federal offense in many parts of the nation waits a year between arrest and trial Concerned about this blatant denial of a clear constitutional right and its impact upon effective law enforcement, congress is moving to put muscle behind this right. In July the senate approved a bill requiring that all person" arrested on federal charges be indicted within 30 days and tried within 90 days of their arrest. A similar bill is pending before the house judiciary committee. The wallop these measures pack comes with the penalty provisions: If a case did not move to trial within 9(1 days, the charges against the defendant would be dismissed, effectively ending the case. The bills under consideration provide that certain types of delays would not bt4 counted. Debate over this sanction has been long and intense. The justice department opposes it. The American Bar Assn. adopted a standard several years ago stating that dismissal was the only effective remedy for denial of this right — a position recently reiterated by the supreme court. Should charges be dropped against persons denied speedy trial? Views from both sides of the issue follow. Should charges be dismissed when the accused has been denied a speedy trial? The Arguments YES “Speedy trial will never be a reality until congress makes clear to all that it will no longer tolerate delay." argues Sen Sam J. Ervtn. jr., (I)-N.(' ), chief senate sponsor of the speedy-trial bill. “Congress tan create the initiative to seek speedy trial on the part of all components of the criminal justice system by mandating it through legislation . . . Only congress tan order courts, prosecutors and defense counsel alike to seek speedy trial, and at the same time provide the resources to achieve that goal ” The sanction of dismissal is essential Ervin continues "A tune limit without enforcement is merely an empty plea ” With that threat, said Ervin, it was unlikely thai the justice department or lederal judges would tolerate much delay “With dismissal as a sanction I have no doubt the trials will be speedy Without a dismissal, I am equally persuaded, we will see no improvement." The supreme court rn 1972 declined to issue an inflexible rule to gauge whether defendants had been denied speedy trials — opting instead for a case-bv-ca.se determination. But Chief Justice Warren E Burger made clear in a subsequent decision that once it was determined that someone had been denied this right dismissal of the charges was "the only possible remedy . " Several years earlier, the American Bar Assn had said: "The only effective remedy for denial of speedy trial is absolute and complete discharge (of the case). If, following undue delay in going • to trial, the prosecution is free to commence prosecution again for the same offense ... the right to speedy trial is largely meaningless. Prosecutors who are fret* to commence another prosecution later have not been deterred from undue delay ” Congressionol Qua^erl* To enact so drastic a means of enforcing this right will punish the public, rather than the persons or factors responsible for denial of the right, argues the justice department and others who oppose these speedy trial measures "At a time . . . when court decisions which protect the rights of the accused have significantly contributed to the delay in trials ... it would seem unwise to enact a law which would penalize society by authorizing automatic dismissal of criminal charges against defendants whose* trials had not started within an arbitrary time limit," warned Assistant Attorney General W. Vincent Rakestraw at house hearings in September. Earlier. Whitney North Seymour, jr., then I S. attorney for southern New York, had articulated the same objections. “The sanction of dismissing the * indictment ... is not a |x*nalty directed at those who are responsible (for delay) but rather penalizes the public* at large It is one thing to permit . . (dismissal) if the government attorney is not ready for trial . . . but where the fault for a case not going to trial may lie with defense* counsel, or the insufficiency of judges, or any one of various other reasons, no one is effectively disc iplined by dismissing the case " Mandatory dismissal after HO or 9(1 days, warned Rakcstruw, would reduce the incentive for defendant* to plead guilty and avoid a jury trial Still another irolential problem was foreseen by Sen Roman L llruska (R Neb ); "Mindful of the frailties of human nature, I question whether such an approach may lead to the bringing of less criminal indictments, rather than risk the embarrassment of dismissal; and to the neglect of the civil dockets in order to meet the demands in criminal lases imposed by the inflexible time limits of the bill.” Cong?etktonol Quarterly The ( gazettes opinion Two-way justice workable The Constitution’s guarantee of speedy-trial rights — with “speedy” undefined — was put there as a means of doing justice to the people: No one who had been accused hut might be innocent should have to languish long in jail awaiting the trial that could rightly set him free. Before the law elaborates on that to turn loose, arbitrarily, all persons whose trials prove not to Ik* “speedy” enough, a value-judgment has to be applied. Which serves justice better for the public — freeing everybody (guilty or not) whenever a trial fails to take place quickly enough, or protecting the public from possible new damage by someone accused (and guilty) of serious offenses but released because of slow prosecution? In short, how do quick-trial rights balance with the public’s interests in its own protection9 A flat, peremptory dismissal of charges whenever the prosecution misses a trial-starting deadline fads to consider fully all the complex elements that help determine quality of justice. One key item is whether the accused actually WANTS a speedy trial, has demanded one and tried tc get it going in a hurry. (More often than not, long delays in trial-starting benefit the one accused, who purposely has caused the wait.) Other relevant considerations are: The length of the delay. The reasons behind it. Whether it actually put the defendant at a disadvantage. Whether the accused has been waiting in jail or out on bond. How serious the crime is. Whether there would tx* a danger to the public IF the defendant is guilty and if he goes free. Revisions in the law to disregard these kinds of variables and arbitrarily set free all persons not tried within two months of their indictments would raise another kind of threat to the “justice for all” concept. Efforts short of flat dismissal therefore need a better chance to solve the problem, first. Whenever a defendant wants to come to trial quickly, his entitlement to speed should Ik* honored, consistent w ith fairness to all. Court-cast load backlogs do not justify prolonged delay, nor d<x*s weakness or ineptitude in prosecution. But only when delays demonstrably do wrong by the accused, against his rights, without an open threat to other People's safety, should justice make it possible to drop a charge for keeps and throw the case out. t ;

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