Saturday, July 18, 2015

Injustice for All

So here's a nutty story about justice gone weird before finally setting somewhat right. Three questions immediately spring to mind:

  1. Will the Commonwealth of Virginia now pursue false accusation charges against Chelsea Steiniger, and if not, why not?
  2. Is this the standard of jurisprudence and evidentiary analysis applied to crimes with higher penalties, including the death penalty ?
  3. What if Mark Weiner had been black?

This is the main problem with the American "adversarial" system of justice. Prosecutors and judges have vested interests in not revisiting their mistakes. But when you have a clear carriage of misjustice (as Deep Purple once put it) like this, where the judge and prosecutor essentially colluded to withhold exculpatory evidence, this calls for more scrutiny. Prosecutor Denise Lunsford's hinky sex life doesn't exactly help matters, but then maybe she and her partner have an open relationship. Keep swingin'!

This is not a small matter. Our justice system depends upon the officials entrusted with implementing it being above reproach. Sexual peccadilloes aside, Lunsford's conduct in handling Weiner's (giggity) case is questionable at best, and more likely willfully corrupt. She and the judge were willing to throw the man's life away; the only reason they finally walked back on the matter is because Steiniger is such a piece of shit, she got busted in February for trying to sell cocaine to two cops.

Forget that Steiniger had already told her boyfriend and her jailbird ex that she had fabricated the whole thing; forget that her accusations were completely impossible from a scientific perspective, that there is no magic teevee chemical that knock you out instantaneously, nor was there any cloth found with traces of such a chemical. The piece that got Virginia to do the right thing was the potential embarrassment this numb cow would cost them.

Well, bullshit. Lunsford and Higgins need to be removed from their positions, or at least rigorously investigated, at least as thoroughly as the Ferguson Police Department. How many other people have been railroaded by these two, with no recourse?

Given the prior complaints against Mark Weiner, it is entirely possible -- hell, likely -- that something happened. A good guess would be that Weiner propositioned Steiniger, she either declined or wanted more cash than Weiner had on him, so Weiner dropped her off at her mother's house and went to look for the next prospect. Sleazy, but nothing you throw people in prison for.

The main thing is that when you make false accusations, you should be prosecuted. Are obstruction of justice and perjury still crimes, or not? Would this potentially scare away legitimate accusations, especially with sexual offenses? Possibly. But think about if something like that happened to you or someone you cared about, that some sociopath could lob some random accusation and fuck up your life, just because they felt like it, and there were no consequences for any of that.

Mark Weiner is a free man now, after spending nearly two years in prison for something he didn't do, but in the meantime he lost his job, his family, his savings. Someone needs to be held responsible for all that, otherwise there is no point to any of this, no incentive whatsoever to stay within the bounds of law.

The justice system is a lot like the financial system -- most of the value lies in whether you believe in it or not. If people can't expect a fair shake, if they're at the mercy of lying accusers and corrupt officials, then it's really just another racket designed to drain people's lives and pocketbooks.

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