Friday, June 14, 2013
(Last modified: 2013-06-14 20:37:16)

Source: The Newport Plain Talk

Dear Editor,


I cannot stop thinking about what I believe is a miscarriage of justice in the Dan Ford case. The case seemed to reek of special privilege from the numerous postponements of his trial, to the political prosecutor, to the avoidance of a jury trial, to the gentle tap on the wrist, to the improbable excuses of why such an extremely light sentence was imposed. Did the court really think that we could not recognize lame excuses when we heard them or understand lack of justice?

First, we are expected to believe that Katelin Richardson contributed to her own death by riding in the middle of the road at dusk without a light on her bicycle (Google the overriding rule of "due care" in Tennessee road laws). Then we are expected to pretend that Mr. Ford ran completely over the top of her body, dragging her for a long distance, but was not driving in a reckless manner? What about the three alcoholic drinks Mr. Ford consumed before cranking up his car? It was his decision alone to drink, and it was his decision to drive while drinking. And he gets 48 hours in jail? People get longer sentences than that for possession of a little marijuana.

On two recent occasions, I was driving at dusk on the Asheville Highway when I came upon bicycle riders in dark clothing, riding in the road, one of which I came upon rather suddenly in a curve. I had been drinking nothing stronger that decaffeinated coffee and was driving within the speed limit, so I had no trouble avoiding the bikers. The Asheville Highway is hilly and curvy, and the Wilton Springs Road is straight and flat as a board with good visibility, as well as being a designated bike trail. There was no excuse for Mr. Ford hitting the girl, except for alcohol, impaired judgment, and speed (reported in the Knoxville News Sentinel), although speed was not one of the charges named in the paper.

Given the light sentence, I am concerned that his community service and the loss of driving privileges for three years are just words without the intent to actually force these conditions on him. Will we be seeing him on the side of the road picking up trash or mowing the Court House lawn, or will the sentence be easy work done at his convenience in air conditioned comfort? Will he do any work? Who supervises the community service, and who keeps track of the hours? What happens if he is caught driving before his license is restored? Will he just go on his merry way? Noting was in the paper about any consequences being built into his sentence. Was he ordered to go to AA?

I feel sorry for Katelin's parents. I wish I could apologize to them for the treatment they received at the hands of a Cocke County court. What an immersion of Southern style, good ole boy justice! In five years, Dan Ford's charge of vehicular homicide by intoxication will be dismissed. In five years, will Katelin's parents get her back, alive and safe and sound? The parents get a life sentence of grief, and Mr. Ford gets a get-out-of-jail-free card. We have a right to expect better of our courts.



Phyllis McCurry

Copyright © 2014, The Newport Plain Talk