Wednesday, March 19, 2008

the "asking for it" defense

I am a little peeved. Okay, pissed, pissed, pissed. We just had a large juvenile trial here in Baltimore. A group of young teens was accused of dragging a woman and her boyfriend off of a city bus and beating the woman severely. A key to the defense was that the teens were black and the woman and her boyfriend were white. The defense argued that the boyfriend used the "N" word, and that the woman spit on the teens. And so they were "asking for it".

I am no legal scholar, but I believe there is not an "asking for it" rule. If you beat someone bloody, break bones in their face, it isn't okay because they were rude to you. Or nasty to you. If you were beaten first, if you were threatened with a weapon, you may defend yourself to the best of your ability.

But you don't get permission to severely assault someone who calls you a name, even an ugly name. And last time I checked, spit was NOT considered deadly force.

Not one defense lawyer, mind you, but five of them, came up with this strategy. They were not arguing mitigating circumstances. They weren't trying for a reduced penalty. They were arguing for "not guilty by reason of they was asking for it".

Now, the actual facts were in dispute. Maybe the woman did call them names. Maybe she didn't. Maybe she did spit on them. If she did, that would be very very wrong. And stupid, to boot. But in no way does that permit a group of children to drag her off a public bus and kick the living sh*t out of her.

The judge found the teens "involved", the juvenile equivalent of guilty. All the defense attorneys said they would appeal the decision.

What kind of message does this type of defense send to teens? They could have killed this woman, and apparently would have, if a bystander had not intervened. Asked if he felt bad for putting the woman in the hospital, one of the teens said "no. I don't feel nothin'"

I am afraid that's the truth.


elsie said...

Utterly ridiculous. Sometimes I wonder where people left their brains. The lawyers, that is, not the defendants. Groupthink, maybe? Or group-no-think.


Kitten Herder said...

One has to wonder if these lawyers went to reputable law schools or clown college.