Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Perhaps Thurbert Baker is too rational for politics.

Blog for Democracy explains why.

Day before yesterday, a judge who had no authority to change Genarlow Wilson's sentence did so. Thurbert Baker rightly appealed the ruling. And in doing so, he incurred the wrath of an angry blogosphere.

Genarlow Wilson doesn't deserve to be in jail for ten years. But this judge has no more right to change the sentence than he has to break Wilson out of jail. And as Bernita notes, it's a dangerous precedent:

What if another judge in Georgia decided to just change someone's sentence regardless of another court's ruling? What if a judge decided to lengthen someone's sentence based on their own viewpoint. Let's understand that WE ARE IN GEORGIA. It is not like the courts have a history of fairness.

I've yet to see a legal counterargument from Thurbert Baker's detractors. The Savannah Morning News as much as admits that there is none: "If this case is viewed strictly by the law, then the judge may have strayed by changing the judgment of a trial court in Douglas County, where the offense occurred in 2003."

For every judge who releases a person like Wilson, there are two who would release prisoners far less deserving. Sentencing already favors the wealthy and well-connected, and re-sentencing would be no different.

In a way, Wilson's case illustrates that fact. He's no Paris Hilton or Scooter Libby, of course, and if he weren't black, it seems unlikely that he would be in jail at all. But he was an athlete and honor student, and his halo has helped bring attention to his case. Would a less perfect teen have advocates in the state legislature, or Congress?

Wilson's imprisonment is an injustice. I'd like to see it end. But I'd like to see a just end, one that ensures that the justice Wilson deserves is guaranteed to everyone in Wilson's place - even the ones who weren't bright young athletes with promising futures.