Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Smile On, Elizabeth

This is the happy fifth anniversary of the return to her parents of Elizabeth Smart, remember her?  The little girl who was abducted from her own bed as her baby sister watched a man crawl through the window and steal her away into the night, the brave girl who withstood all manner of insult to her person at the hands of this man and his woman, she stayed alive, learning at too young an age how to survive in the face of horror.  Today she's a 20-year old college student and blessedly, a very well-adjusted, secure young woman.  And her younger sister, Mary, who saw it all?  She had to somehow live through those nine months while her sister was missing, not knowing what happened to her and indeed, in the quiet hours before dawn..."was it my fault?"  For she did wonder at the tender age of nine if she could've stopped that man from stealing her big sister.  Imagine living with such a thought, at any age!  But she doesn't, she hasn't, she too, has come out of all this a surviving beacon of smiling light.  If only that were all that mattered....

I remember this story out of Utah and kept close tabs on what I thought would be the upcoming trial of the abductors.  To this day, they have yet to stand before their peers and be judged for their acts.  Elizabeth and her sister know that someday they'll be required to appear in the media circus once again, take the stand in open court and testify to what they know.  Slow-going is the justice for Elizabeth Smart - but her life is full and she smiles on.  I have another problem, and it may certainly create one when I tap it out:

Is not justice delayed justice denied?  Don't we all still believe that?  Or is it only for criminals whose deeds don't hit us in the gut, as this crime did.  No one is concerned that the accuseds' attorneys have used the psychiatric avenues of law to postpone their clients' trial lo these five years now, and they're doing it simply to let the fires of rage die down while building a solid case for insanity.  This will make for a more even-tempered jury, and so it should be but I can't help wondering, as a paralegal myself, if I commited a crime and was caught I'd expect to be tried swiftly and fairly.  The right to a speedy trial is ours by virtue of law and though they be scoundrels, this has been denied to the abductors of Elizabeth Smart.  No one cares, especially the accused.  This is to their benefit.  As long as their mental accuity is being questioned, they cannot stand trial.  Who knows how long this protracted situation will continue.  Why care? 

It's not right.  Not for anyone involved, and not for you or me.  When you sit on a jury you're asked to weigh evidence and make an informed, objective decision.  But if you're looking at decades-old evidence, listening to testimony about an incident which, like any, dulls with time, the immediacy of the process is lost.

I understand that a mentally unfit person cannot be forced to stand trial, no matter the crime.  It's the abuse of this fail-safeguard in our justice system which gauls and disturbs me.  Clinicians and specialists paid to submit ongoing progress reports on the accused, on behalf of same and at the behest of their attorneys, will by nature be biased in their favor.  Where is the balancing act of the prosecution?

A defense attorney is not there to defend you.  The presumption of innocence is yours, that's the law.  So you have no need to defend yourself.  Your defense attorney is there to force the prosecution to do their job and prove their case.  A good example of this not being done is the OJ Simpson trial, where the prosecution failed miserably.  When Elizabeth's abductors eventually go to trial, if they ever do, they'll have that same presumption of innocence and the State will be forced to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  And that's where the problem of delayed justice comes in - I've no doubt they will plead not guilt by reason of insanity.  That seems to be the focus of their direction these five years, amassing psychological protocols supporting this premise.  And the longer these persons remain in the limbo of "unfit to stand trial" the better their chances of circumventing due process.  

But hey - it's a sunny day and just look at Elizabeth Smart today just look at this girl.   She's living in the secure, loving embrace of her family and community, a survivor, not looking back, fully focused on her future.

              Smile on, Elizabeth, and God bless you.      

  

 

16 comments:

bhbner2him said...

Suppose the shoe were on the other foot, so to speak.  That the defense was all primed and ready to go and the prosecution was steadily coming up with one stall or delay tactic after another.  People would likely be in the streets over it in much less than five years!  

Suppose the Mexican authorities found one 30-30 shell rolling around in your floor board of your vehicle, accidentally left over from last hunting season.  They arrested you and threw you in a cell and time drug on and on and on.  Your family and friends back home would be putting so much pressure on the Mexican and U.S. government to do something quickly.  

Perhaps the answer is to set an amount of time a trial cannot be delayed beyond.  Surely this would open up new avenues for appeals of convictions, but it might be a fair trade off.  

I'm sure those who originally wrote "the right to a speedy trial" would think we all absolutely ludicrous.

luddie343 said...

Agreed Barbara, yet usually the D.A. stalls a trial date to amass more evidence for a solid conviction, and no one really complains except the defendant.  Again, not fair either way.  I like your idea of a statute of limitations.  

gazker said...

Hmmmm, this is a difficult one. Here in the UK, all are presumed innocent, till proven guilty. Unless, there is reasonable ground to think otherwise.
Gaz

gdireneoe said...

Teacher question answered.  Justice will be served.  We just don't always get to manifest it as we'd like it to be. ;)  C.

ally123130585918 said...

Lets hope justice will eventually be served and soon ~ Ally x

princesssaurora said...

God bless her... she is the image of poise and STRENGTH!

be well,
Dawn
http://journals.aol.com/princesssaurora/CarpeDiem/

sybilsybil45 said...

Elizabeth's case in not one we have heard of over here in the Uk. But it does seem a long time before a trial takes place.  I am so glad that she has had such a string family behind her.  LOve Sybil x

pamal3 said...

The disgrace of the british justice system is an embarrassment. If a person receives a 3 year sentence, It Is then halved, then cut again for good behaviour!. The reasoning behind this, is overcrowding of prisons. In America and several other places abroad, when a person Is given 3 years, It means 3 years and that, in Itself Is a deterrant to the majority. In either case, that poor little girl and her family deserve so much more. If it was a senior judge's daughter, I wonder If there would still be the wait?  I wish her peace and justice. Love Pam xx  

wwfbison said...

She is an amazing young woman and to have grown into the person she has after going through that horror is amazing, in my opinion.  I agree with you about the justice (or total lack thereof) in this case.  It is nonsense and I see no reason to drudge up the memories for Elizabeth & her sister down the road.
Lisa

helmswondermom said...

I saw her this morning on a tv interview.  I was very impressed.
Lori

lanurseprn said...

She's absolutely beautiful and very blessed to have such a supportive family and network around her. I did not know that her abductors still had not been to court. That is just wrong. Our system is terrible...we need to redo a lot of it. I fear that problem is so big nobody can/or is willing to take it on.
So God Bless Elizabeth Smart and her family!
Pam xoxox

mutualaide said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly.  Justice not served is justice denied and although one might argue these people were nuts, are nuts -- I can't help but say, "No.  No way.  There were and are JUST PLAIN EVIL."  Nuts, my ass.  (excuse me).

preciousone25 said...

She's such a beautiful girl, and I thank GOD that both her and her sister are doing fine and are well adjusted individuals. I totally agree with you here, there should be a maximum time set for a trial date.  The abductors ARE crazy people, NORMAL people don't steal children, or do things like kill people, or rape..... they're all unfit, but they should still stand trial and quickly.  They aren't fit for society, that's for sure.  I'm wondering where her abductors are right now??  I haven't heard.

Joann
http://journals.aol.com/preciousone25/JoannsWeightLossJourney/

kaydeejay5449 said...

Great entry.  I followed the case, too, and was always worried she was dead.  When news came that she had been found, I had tears of joy.  I was so impressed with her family after she was brought home.  They did the right thing by keeping her out of the spotlight.  No Oprah, no Larry King.  Awesome decision.  I think that might have made it easier for her to get on with her life.

Oh, I almost forgot why I logged on to your journal.  LOL!  Congratulations on winning the Sentence Challenge in Val's journal.  Way to go!
Kathy

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