Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - September 10, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Crazy-quilt ‘discretion’ in U.S. judiciary
Tuesday, September IO, 1974
Judging the pardon
PRESIDENT FORD S provocative pardon of former President Nixon invites judgment on two levels, the personal level aijfl the public one. Regrettably, the outcomes do not coincide.
In the personal framewci k, Mr. Ford’s act was one man’s kind, compassionate, forgiving (some would say Christian) act of charity or mercy toward another human being. The receiver of this kindness was a once-powerful man who left his country’s highest office in disgrace because removal through impeachment loomed — a man whose suffering from that is said to be endangering his health (perhaps his mind). The giver was a man whose office carries the power to do for anyone the kind of thing that Mr. Ford has done for Mr. Nixon.
Judged in narrow human terms, as a person-to-person transaction, with past “punishment” or “suffering” for wrongs weighed against the possibility of more such punishment ahead. President Ford’s pardon for his predecessor was a justifiable act.
At the public level, however, institutional considerations override the personal. Neither man is just an individual. The circumstance of who they are and what they do is inextricable with WHAT they are: past and present holders of the United States presidency, public symbols of a public system, the living embodiments of a system of government and law that transcends the personal and dismisses individual identities.
On that scale of values, the Ford-Nixon pardon can not be justified as a man-to-man transaction.
A President pardoned a former President. What did he pardon him for? For ‘‘all offenses against the United States” that Mr. Nixon “has committed or may have committed” as President. And what WERE those offenses? Nowhere does the pardon proclaim-
To the Editor:
I have a personal friend who has worked at the Roosevelt hotel as a maid for some 13 years. During her eight hours worked, she is assigned 17 rooms per day to clean, and on some days, has to travel two to three floors to complete her 17 rooms She has to see to it that new. fresh linen is brought up to her floors from the basement of the hotel Her wage scale is presently $2 02 per hour
The management’s final proposal in wages was 18 cents, not now, but on Jan I, 1978, then IO cents on Jan I. 1977 — a (total wage increase of 28 cents for three years In addition, their identity would be taken away and work assigned in laundry and houseman’s duties — a massed classification to further additional workloads. In addition, the hotel's final offer took away all forms of overtime, even holidays, with the open right to schedule work longer than eight-hour days at straight time. As of this date. Mr. Cook has withdrawn his final offer, and leaves nothing on the bargaining table
I think the community must evaluate the needs of these people on strike and recognize the plight of these workers in their endeavors. I support them PKI percent.
Elaine Disney 114(11 avenue \W
To the Editor
^t was with great interest that I read Frank Nye’s evaluation (Political Notes. Aug 25) of the possible success of I S senate candidate David Stanley in his walking campaign of Iowa. It is true that Mr. Stanley has adopted the winning walk of Dick Clark and Daniel Walker No one who has walked has lost to date
But Mr. Nye neglected to point out two other stanley campaign items. Besides
finn say. Nowhere does'a public record spell out Mr Nixon's wrongs as hard, established fact instead of general, unproven accusation,
What does Mr. Nixon say were his offenses9 “Not acting more decisively and more forthrightly” in his dealing with the Watergate events. “Mistakes and misjudgments’’ that led to a “belief” in others that some of his Watergate actions were “illegal.” “The way I tried to deal with Watergate.” Nothing that would document in any way what Mr. Ford alludes to as “all crimes ...”
Hard public questions burn despite the quenching effort of the President. How can someone formally be pardoned for something which no formal record attests that he did? How can everybody else involved in “all crimes” of Watergate continue to pay for them personally or continue to be prosecuted for them if the one official finally accountable goes free, unjudged? How cp a system of government be trusted to give everybody equal justice when a gross exception for one person sets aside the institution’s public force?
The time for laudable compassion and a personal pardon to somebody guilty of crime is after the facts or the plea or the verdict have settled all questions about it. Few would begrudge such a personal lift to any President deposed. The way to handle such compassion is by honoring procedures that assure the system's fairness and retain the people's trust in something bigger than the biggest power-figure serving them.
The Nixon pardon would serve justice and compassion as an endgame gesture for one key competitor who cheated and lost. But now its timing and its context with the scoreboard indecisive mark it as a setback to the system. a downer for public respect and a regrettable mistake.
using the walk, Stanley sports John Culver’s winning campaign colors, and Richard Nixon’s winning campaign ethics and tactics.
Because of Stanley’s total, nonimaginative adoption of campaign qualities of others. I feel that Iowans will reject David Stanley’s senate bid. Surely Iowans will see through Stanley. The question is: Does Frank Nye?
Robert A Campagna Muscatine
To the Editor
I am glad to see that the movement toward preserving the Czech heritage is gaming momentum With the enormous success of last year’s exhibit of Czech fine arts by the Cedar Rapids Art Center, it only proved how much interest there is among general public in these treasures. I feel that if we in America, especially the younger generations, don t keep the heritage of Czechoslovakia alive, the communists will have accomplished what they set out to do — destroy our Czech heritage
As I understand them, preliminary plans to transform Sixteenth avenue SW into a typical Czech village include a suitable museum to store and exhibit Czech fine arts
If local Czechs succeeded in maintaining Czech school for over PKI years and the Czechoslovak Society of America (a nationally known fraternal group with several local lodges) reached this year the 120th anniversary of its existence, it should serve as an added incentive to pursue this worthy project of preserv mg < zech heritage
T Ii Hlubucek 137 Thirty-seventh street NE
Conscience is that smaller inner voice that tells you that the Internal Revenue Service might check your return
Detroit Free Pre**
By Tom Wicker
NEW YORK — A business man is conv icted of tax ev asion A federal judge sentences him to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine, the maximum allowed by law The business man may not know it. but if he had only been in another courtroom — maybe one just next door. or in the next federal district, or in a neighboring state — he might have got off with three months and a $5,000 fine
A cab driver is convicted of making a heroin sale. A federal judge hits him with IO years in prison Maybe the driver thinks that isn t so bad, since he could have got the maximum 15. But there is at least one other federal judge in the same circuit who would have sentenced him to only one year in prison. the minimum, for precisely the same offense.
The two cases are hypothetical but typical. They were among those cited in a survey of how each of 50 real federal Midges, all on the trial bench of the second circuit in Neu York, Connecticut and Vermont, would sentence in (‘ach of 30 cases
The results, just presented to the circuit’s Judicial Conference, suggest not only the vast disparity among judges in the sentences they impose for the same offense; they also illustrate the extent to which criminal justice in America can be arbitrary, capricious and inequitable all down the line
At point after point, from arrest through trial, conviction and sentencing to prison and parole, the system is studded with opportunities for judicial and administrative “discretion." This is so that judges and other responsible officials can make allowances for special or mitigating circumstances, show leniency when warranted, and attempt to make the facts of each case determine its proper disposition.
Discretion has two sides. What was intended to foster the mercy and effectiveness of the law can and all too often
Aw, cheer up . . . after you suffer a little more you ll be in line for a presidential pardon
does result in good lawyers getting easier sentences for their clients than those handed out to poorly represented offenders; or in wealthy and influential defendants getting off more lightly than others
"Discretion” can also be used to accommodate personal whims and prejudice and to favor personal or political
friends; sometimes discretion can bi' bought, by one form of bribery or another
Discretion can give great weight to complicated bureaucratic rules — for instance, in parole hearings It can be used not only to favor some people, but to crack down harshly on others, often without justification by the facts of a case. The supreme court has ruled, in effect, that discretion in whether or not to impose capital punishment in different cast's of the same offense makes the death penalty “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Discretion is, of course, almost una voidable from the start of a criminal case; an arresting officer has to decide whom to arrest and what to charge From there on, the process is continuous. Someone decides whether to set bail. and if so, how much. The prosecutor decides whether to prosecute, and for what, or whether to bargain for a plea, and what kind of a plea A judge must sentence — and in the second circuit survey, one was found Imposing a 20-year sentence, with a $85.IKK) fine, for what another thought deserved only three years and no fine
The indeterminate sentences most prisoners face mean, basically, that they do not know when they will get (nit
- a substantial punishment in itself — and that prison and parole authorities have great and often arbitrary powers over the final length of the term This can mean that the most independent, strong-minded and capable inmates. who tend to chafe under the regimentation and idleness of prison life, wind up doing more time as “troublemakers Those who adjust well to prison, and are quickly paroled for a good record, often are the least able to "make it in the competitive outside world.
Even when inmates win their release. most of them still haw to contend
— often for many years — with the "discretion” of the parole officer, his maze of restrictions and regulations, and his nearly arbitrary power to send a parolee back to prison for violations of even minor parole rules.
It can hardly be argued that all discretion should be eliminated from the criminal justice system. But the second circuit sentencing survey is only one of many evidences that there are too many inequities and miscarriages of justice in the process of enforcing the law, that shorter prison terms, made mandatory and the same length for everyone convicted of the same offense, with no arbitrary parole system to give (me person a break over another, would be more equitable for all, more effective in deterring crime, and less destructive in their effects on inmates and their families.
New York Times Service
Of disciplines forced and voluntary
‘Free men need more carrot, less stick’
By William F. Buckley,jr.
PRESIDENT FORD said some strange things, over at Ohio State Rather it was the juxtaposition that was strange. On the one hand he spoke sheer economic orthodoxy On the other, he applauded the achievements of a slave state. It is one of the paradoxes he inherited from Mr. Nixon, but one which he apparently! carries easily.
He spoke about China. He visited China in 1972, he recalled, and he knows from what he saw with his own eyes, and from the figures he has since perused, that the Chinese economy is improving by leaps and bounds. More precisely, he said that it was “gaining momentum ”
Mr Ford then explained that in order to experience economic progress without inflation, it is necessary to increase productivity. In order to increase productivity, a people must exercise a combination of two virtues The first is self-restraint; the second, creativity.
Now. the Chinese certainly exercise self-restraint If there was visible to President Ford during his visit to China a single impulse toward personal freedom, he saw something I did not see earlier in the same year, or any of the other journalists I traveled with.
For Mr. Ford to comment seriously that the young people of China are “extremely well disciplined’’ flirts with gallows humor. We are still reminded, every decade or so, of the remark made by Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, returned from a Potemkin tour through the Soviet Union shortly after the world war. that it was a remarkable place — "no labor union troubles.” It would be a little like returning from Hitler Germany in 1945 and remarking the total absence of any problems with Jews.
Discipline is a virtue when it is self-imposed When it is imposed, as in China, by screaming Red Guards who roast dissent, and nowadays forage for any inclination by their fellow citizens toward Confucius, or Beethoven, you have a kind of discipline that was exercised by galley slaves who, in silence and in darkness, propel their craft whithersoever the governor lisleth This is not something to celebrate, even if it can be established that the craft is “gaining momentum ” They run awfully
fast at the Olympics, but undoubtedly they could be got to run even faster if they were being chased by tanks
One worries about such lapses. And recalls that haunted moment at Dartmouth university. It was (a) a few years after Orwell’s sunburst, his novel “1984” depicting the grim character of the totalitarian system to come, the authority of which would go by the name of "Big Brother”, and (b) a few months after the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower as President of the United States.
Ike went up to New Hampshire to address the students and would you believe it, he told them that he wanU'd the government to be “nothing more than a Big Brother to them.” It was then that Republicans reached the sorrowful conclusion that if Zane Grey hadn’t
William F. Buckley, jr.
written about it, Dwight Eisenhower wouldn’t know about it.
What Mr Ford needs to ask himself is whether that freedom which we celebrate in this country has become counter-productive. I mean, in the strictest sense of the word. Is it true that because we as citizens are free in a way that the Chinese are not, that the Chinese are gaining momentum9 Do we need a little of the whiplash, so that we too might become “extremely well disciplined?” There are still a few reactionaries calling for wage and price controls, which are a step in the direction of authoritarianism. But Mr. Ford says he disapproves of them.
Or could it-be that it isn t more of the stick that we need, but more of the carrot? In order to increase productivity, there has got to be* incentive. Is that incentive substantially diminished because of the exactions already imposed on creative people? I mean, of course, and primarily, the tax structure. And, secondarily. restrictive practices, whether caused by labor unions or protected monopolies or oligopolies Forty percent of what we all earn is sucked in by the government. Increase that 48 percent to UN) percent and you have the Chinese situation What would happen if we went the other way? Back, say, to 25 percent.
There would be an interesting alternative, and one drools at the thought of it. Mr. Ford says that we "welcome” the challenge of Chinese competition. We could dramatize this by saying in as many words that free men work better and more productively than slaves. And by lightening the load on the American worker rather than increasing it.
Washington Star Syndicate
Another I leu'
Pssstl Interested in some black market canning jars, astert''
Officers fall; anybody noticing?
Pathos lost in crime data
Liberty without obedience is confusion, and obedience without liberty is slavery.
By James J. Kilpatrick
WASHINGTON — Every September brings from the FBI its uniform crime report The tabulated figures are mutely assembled, row on row, as neatly as troops, as silent as tombstones. With orderly precision they tell of disorder, violence and death Permit me to speak of one figure only; 127.
That is the number of local, county and state law enforcement officers who were slain last year in the line of duty. It was the highest annual figure ever recorded.
Director Clarence Kelley s report is a bloodless, faceless, computerized affair. Every drop of emotion is drained away. No trace of drama remains Out of the punch-card correlations, certain composite images emerge, but the images do not speak to our senses We do not hear the shots, or smell the danger. or see faces contorted in fear or rage. We have only the silent tabulations
Over the last ten years, 858 officers have died from criminal action Of these. 813 have died from handguns. For no particular reason that presents itself, Sunday nights are the most dangerous nights, and the hours between lh p rn and 2 a ni are the most dangerous -hours.
Most officers are slain in robbery puntuU ut in attempting other arrests.
I^ast year saw 29 officers killed in responding to “disturbance calls." It is a shocking reflection on our violent society that 25 policemen were killed as they made routine traffic stops
The composite image of the dead officer indicates that he was white (HI percent were black, 3 percent other races); that he was in his late twenties or early thirties (median police service. 54 years); and that he most probably died on regular patrol duty in his squad car. But of the 127 slain last year, ll actually were off duty at the time They died in the highest tradition of law enforcement, which holds that an officer of the law is never "off duty.”
Who were their killers? All but six of last year's killings were cleared by arrest Of the 192 identified offenders, 77 percent had prior criminal records, 81 percent had previously been convicted and released on parole or probation Sixteen percent actually were on parole or probation when they were involved in the killing of an officer.
The tabulations march on and on, mutely arithmetical, but no vivid imagination is required to transform the silent facts to flesh and blood These were 127 men who died in the police service, most of them left widows and children twhind The hard profession of law enforcement demands that officers risk their lives; these 127 risked, and lost
Some appropriate method should be found, it seems to me, for the living not only to honor these dead but also to honor the profession in which they served. Perhaps a deserved tribute could tx' arrange if the President annually were to invite to the White House the families of the slain officers, there to receive medals in mentor lam lf such a ceremony were held in conjunction with I.aw day, the sacrifices implicit in law enforcement might be dramatically emphasized.
Another approach is suggested in a bill sponsored chiefly by Senators John McClellan of Arkansas and Roman Hruska of Nebraska The bill has passed both house and senate, in different versions, but has been languishing since last April for want of further action. It would provide for $50.(NKI memorial stipends to the families of both police and firemen killed by felonious action or by accident in the line of duty.
The McClellan Hruska bill would cost an estimated $20 million a year It is a large sum, perhaps unwisely large, the measure might transform an obligation of honor into a bureaucratic indemnity, and It raises questions of federalism that might better be left at rest But the basic idea has merit Police officers know little of public honor or respect m life, m some fashion, we ought to honor those who pursued law and found death instead
WovStngion Slur Svndnate