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June 17, 2009

MADD is mad about short Stallworth sentence

This post from the New York Times' NFL blog has lots of interesting follow-up concerning the short prison term given to NFL receiver Donte Stallworth in Florida for DUI manslaughter.  The post links to  this interesting news releasefrom the the Miami-Dade prosecutor, which stressed that the deal had "the full endorsement and consent of the Reyes family, who believe that this plea and its timing are in the best interest of their 15-year-old daughter, the sole remaining child of Mario Reyes [because] the provisions of this plea will provide closure to them and appropriate punishment for Mr. Stallworth’s conduct and the effects of his actions that night."

The post also noted that one of the provisions of the deal includes a forced donation to MADD, which the organization has said it will refuse.  MADD also says it is "profoundly disappointed in the 30 day jail sentence for Donte Stallworth who killed a pedestrian while driving drunk."  Of course, as the NYT post notes, in fact Stallworth will only have to spend 24 days behind bars because of earned-time credits.

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Comments

So what's the right sentence, Judge Berman? How long would you keep him before you're sufficiently satisfied society has garnered its pound of flesh?

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jun 17, 2009 2:25:14 PM

Grits -- Suggesting that more than 30 days would be appropriate for ending the life of a fellow creature while zipping around drunk in your Bentley does not exactly reflect a bloodthirsty appetite for a "pound of flesh."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 17, 2009 3:22:03 PM

In defense of Grits, Doug's a zealot on this issue.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 17, 2009 3:28:26 PM

"But prosecutors weighed a lot of factors, including the wishes of the victim’s family, which accepted what was presumably a large payout from Stallworth to head off civil litigation."

In other words, he paid the family off.

Posted by: . | Jun 17, 2009 3:35:04 PM

Two comments:

1. Why is it important to note, Mr. Otis, that he was driving a Bentley? The media always makes a point of noting it, too. Why is that relevant at all? Every story like this notes the type of car if it is an SUV or a BMW, Mercedes, Bentley, etc. It creates a real "stick it to the rich" bent to the story. Whether the defendant was driving a Toyota or a Bentley, same offense.

2. Here in Florida we see this a lot - if you kill someone while DUI and the victim's family is forgiving, you get much less time than if the victim's family is out for blood. Fair? Not really, considering the sentence is then largely based on the luck of the draw in the attitude of the victim's relatives ...

Posted by: Mark | Jun 17, 2009 4:54:18 PM

Mark --

1. Because if I were driving a Bentley, I would be darn sure not to hit ANYTHING, much less a human being.

2. "Here in Florida we see this a lot - if you kill someone while DUI and the victim's family is forgiving, you get much less time than if the victim's family is out for blood. Fair? Not really, considering the sentence is then largely based on the luck of the draw in the attitude of the victim's relatives ..."

Agreed. And another reason that luck of the draw sentencing, which is now back courtesy of Booker, Gall and Kimbrough, is a bad idea. The difference is that victims' families need not be bound by considerations of equal justice, but judges should be.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 17, 2009 6:41:45 PM

Police Officer: DUI is a big money maker.

Me: I am researching the amounts from this scam, its associated, irrelevant, and unconstitutional charges. Will keep folks posted if I can get the data.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 17, 2009 11:03:25 PM

Why is it Booker, Gall and Kimbrough and not victims' rights?

Posted by: George | Jun 18, 2009 1:42:47 AM

George -- Victims have a right to a respectful hearing from the prosecutor. Their views are entitled to consideration, but not entitled to be controlling. The prosecutor does not represent them, no matter how worthy or appealling they may be. So there is no such thing as a "victim's right" to determine what sentence the prosecutor must seek or the court should impose, or even to have a decisive say in what parameters should be considered in fashioning a sentence.

While victims do not set the parameters for a federal judge's sentencing decisions, Booker, Gall and Kimbrough do. Now to say that they set the parameters is admittedly an odd way to put it, since it suggests that they set limits when, in fact, they scale back limits, if they do not, for practical purposes in many cases, end them altogether. By rendering the Guidelines "advisory only," Booker, Gall and Kimbrough have re-introduced luck-of-the-draw sentencing to a far greater extent than the occasional activist victim or victim's family has done or is likely to do.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 18, 2009 12:18:38 PM

The victims, future victims, and potential victims are the owners of the law. They have paid for every jot and dot. The prosecutor is a law technician who has unlawfully converted this chattel to own advantage. If it is not to protect people, why have law at all? law is not make work for cult criminals that somehow took over the three branches of government. It is time for the owners to repossess their chattel and to fire the thievin' land pirate. Hang them from the yard arms. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 18, 2009 7:17:41 PM

Bill O, I notice neither you nor Doug deigned to answer my question. If you're going to complain a sentence is too short despite the fact that even the victim's family is okay with it, surely the onus is on y'all to say what the right penalty SHOULD be. Doug in the past has called for life sentences for multiple DWIs (something we see routinely in Texas but which has not reduced drunk driving deaths), so I don't think I'm out of line asking Doug to say what he believes is the right punishment.

Also, this case is in state court so your analysis of Booker, Gall, etc., really is irrelevant and off-point. The sentencing judge in this case was not restrained by those federal-only precedents and was (rightfully, IMO) free to consider the totality of the circumstances, which is how the resultant sentence came about.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jun 23, 2009 1:40:53 PM

Bentley = Money! Money = Power! Power sets you free! The family should have no input in the case! It is about doing the "right thing!" Spike Lee would be ashamed at this decision! Everywhere else in this country, blue collar people are usually looking at four years minimum for a DUI resulting in a death. It goes up from there in multiple deaths. You can spin it all you want, but Florida got it wrong!

Posted by: BD | Jul 12, 2009 9:36:30 AM

Dog fighting will get you more time in jail than killing a human being while driving drunk! Go figure!

Posted by: BD | Jul 12, 2009 9:40:02 AM

The Judge always has the last say. In this case I think that the Judge was "paid off" too. 8 years is a long time for probation, but he is still free. When you look at the latest football players that have been hymned by the law Stallworth got off big time. Plax got 2 your for carring a weapon that he wasn't supposed to have and shooting himself. He should have got 30 days. Shooting yourself is punishment enough. Vick got 2 years for fighting dogs! It seems as though the upholders of the law are lowering the standards. Stallworth should have been charged with premeditated murder. He knew he was drunk, and I don't care what actually happened on the street that morning.

Posted by: Billy | Aug 25, 2009 7:48:50 AM

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