|Published: 8:36 PM, 06/14/2013
||Last updated: 8:37 PM, 06/14/2013
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
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
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.
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