Saturday, March 15, 2014
A rare deal in Sparta, Mississippi
Word count: 1,432
It was my intention to post only sharlogs (definition: pl. for a flog by Sidney Harr) on this site, however the production of one is time consuming and very energy-intensive. It takes several weeks to write, narrate, and put images together to make a sharlog… and I’ve been averaging one a month recently. There are many topics of interest and importance which I haven’t been able to address because I’ve been working exclusively with sharlogs. As they say, “a brilliant mind is a terrible thing to waste,” ergo I have decided to change policy and to once again resume posting blogs… that have to be read. I’ll post blogs once or twice weekly while posting sharlogs once or twice a month. Although it was my intention to have a sharlog posted this weekend, despite my frantic efforts, it looks like it will be ready to be posted closer to next weekend.
This afternoon the regular CBS programming was rearranged for airing of the NCAA basketball tournament, so I turned to WRAL-2 (I don’t have cable) to await my soap opera, “The Bold and the Beautiful”… anxious to see if Wyatt’s evil mother would toss crazy Allie from the overpass railing onto traffic below and whether Brooke would succeed in wresting her former husband and fiancée Ridge from her little sister Katie’s newly formed relationship with him. While waiting for the show to come on, I had to sit through an episode of “In the Heat of the Night,” a Carroll O’Connor police drama set in the deep South… fictional Sparta, Mississippi.
This episode featured Kevin (or Keith, I don’t remember which) a friend of the police captain nicknamed “Bubba.” Kevin, considered a good guy, was deeply in love with his wife, and they had nearly completed work on adopting a one year old boy. Turns out, the boy’s father Dalton Jones is a real creep and shows up at the last moment and tells Kevin that he won’t contest the adoption if he’s paid a little moolah. Kevin, not wanting to stress his wife, keeps this from her and pays the boy’s father thousands of dollars. Naturally, Dalton keeps upping the ante, to where Kevin can’t shell out any more dough. At that point Dalton tells him that he will go to Court to get his boy. Kevin is very concerned because he knows that his wife’s heart would be broken if she were to lose the child.
Dalton makes Kevin one final option… promising to refrain from going to court after his son if Kevin would give him the code to the alarm system at the shop where he’s employed. After hours of vacillating, Kevin agrees and gives the shady character the numbers to enable him to burglarize the place.
That night, Dalton using the codes given him by Kevin, gains entry into the shop and begins using a torch to break through the safe containing cash revenue. Unfortunately, the owner of the store just happens to walk by, notices the burglary in progress and proceeds to go to his office and grab his revolver to confront the thief. End result, the burglar pulls out a concealed gun of his own and shoots the owner in the chest, killing him.
The next morning when Kevin goes to work he finds police mulling around and the ambulance taking a body from the building. It was then he learns that his boss had been killed. Bubba, who had been watching his friend closely, began questioning Kevin about his whereabouts the previous evening. Bubba had also been looking into the boy Kevin and his wife were going to adopt and learned that Dalton with his criminal record was the birth father of the boy.
Distraught, Kevin goes over to the shack where Dalton lives and tells him to high-tail it… that the police are going to figure that he was responsible for the fatal burglary. Dalton doesn’t need to be told twice.
Meanwhile Kevin goes to his wife and tells her that he’s in big trouble. She comforts him and later on he goes into town to the Sheriff’s Office. After giving him a well-deserved tongue lashing, Bubba takes Kevin to Chief O’Connor’s office, and Kevin confesses to his role in giving Dalton the codes to the alarm system. The Chief then tells one of his officers to arrest Kevin for a slew of charges… conspiracy to commit a crime, aiding and abetting, interfering with a police investigation, blah-blah-blah. (I can’t really remember all of the charges against him.)
Now I’m thinking: “this guy’s in big trouble… by being an accomplice in a burglary gone wrong and involving the death of a store owner, he’s facing some serious jail time.”
Eventually Dalton is captured after a long car chase and gun battle from the barn of a small country farm… with Bubba supplying the heroics in subduing the villain.
The final scene takes place in the County Courthouse where Kevin is before a female judge… getting ready to pronounce sentence. Chief O’Connor is sitting in a pew near the back when Bubba comes in and announces to the judge that an agreement has been reached with the district attorney which calls for Kevin to have five years of supervised probation… no jail time! The judge then looks over to the Chief, as if awaiting his response. He subtly nods his head, after which the judge then announces that she will accept the deal worked out with the district attorney. Then, fade to black.
Prior to my enlightenment regarding the way the justice system works, I would’ve thought that the good guy had a happy ending, the bad guy got caught… a warm and fuzzy ending to the story. Because I am enlightened, what has leapt out from that episode is: rare deal! Kevin got a rare deal because he was a friend of police officer Bubba. No doubt the district attorney worked out the sweetheart plea deal as a favor to Bubba.
The second thing that jumped out at me was the awkward relationship between the judge (judicial branch) and the Police Chief (executive branch). It was obvious that the Chief held significant sway over the judge’s actions, and I found this to be quite disturbing.
Rare deals have no doubt been meted out by adjudicators since a legal system was first used by man. Discretion given to sentencing has usually favored the privileged and powerful, whereas “raw deals” (those that are disproportionally harsh and severe) have been handed down to the poor, disenfranchised, and people of color. Unfortunately, the discretionary power has been the province of the district attorney. Therein lies the problem as most, if not all, district attorneys in North Carolina lack Nifongian courage, and are nothing more than marionettes dancing to the strings of the Powers-That-Be.
Because former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong was a man of uncompromising integrity and independence, he did not fit into the takeover scheme of the big boys, and he had to go. So, like Crystal Mangum, charges were trumped up against him to force his resignation and disbarment. To prevent other idealistic prosecutors from following his lead, Mr. Nifong was severely persecuted by the State and crucified in the media.
As far as the executive branch overstepping on the toes of the judicial, as it did in the television drama, the same thing happened in real life on April 11, 2007 with Attorney General Roy Cooper’s famous “Innocence Promulgation.” Although it was within his professional rights to dismiss the criminal charges against the three Lacrosse defendants, it was totally inappropriate and unprecedented for him to make a declaration of “innocent.” That is not in his purview. Legally acceptable judgments of innocence or guilt can come only from a jury or a judge in lieu of a jury. In other words, it must emanate from the judicial branch. Officials in the executive branch cannot hand down judgments.
The mainstream media is aware that the innocence proclamation by the attorney general is bogus, but it wants to mislead the public into believing that it’s true. In almost all of the media releases, either press or broadcast, the Duke Lacrosse defendants are mentioned to have been found innocent (or exonerated) of the sexual abuse allegations.
Viewers of this blog site who elect to become enlightened have the privilege of being able to dissect the relevance and discern the nuances of issues covered in the news… stories both factually occurring in real life and those fictionally generated in Hollywood.