You know how police states get started. First they came for the kid who eats lunch at the yacht club, the one who wanted to buy the $874,000 home, and I didn't speak out, because I didn't own a yacht.
That's the situation that's unfolding in Ottawa County, according to defense attorney Tom DeBacco, who says that his client, Alexander Reitzel, 19, was overcharged with two counts of attempted burglary, just because he apparently tried a locked door on the back of state Rep. Chris Redfern's house. You can read our story here.
They say that President Harry Truman used to complain that he needed a one-armed economist on his staff. His advisors would tell him something, then say, "On the other hand ... "
Nobody is insisting on a one armed blogger yet, so I can still say I see both sides.
I'm no expert on burglary laws. Maybe Reitzel was overcharged compared to other folks who tried a locked door and hung out in the back yard. Maybe the prosecutor overcharged him, looking for a plea deal. Maybe prosecutors in the 87 other counties and 49 other states never do that. Maybe Reitzel was just "impulsed by that house."
On the other hand, if somebody goes in my back yard and tries my locked door, I hope the cops arrest him, put him in handcuffs and haul him away. I hope he gets charged with something serious, not the equivalent of a speeding ticket.
It seems to me that Redfern's political stature cuts both ways. Yes, he probably gets his phone calls returned more quickly than you or I. On the other hand, if someone tries to break into the home of Tom Jackson, minor blogger, the defense attorney doesn't get on page one saying that the prosecution was politically motivated. If the lawyer wants to get his name in the papers, he has to buy an ad.
Incidentally, if the white guy who eats at the yacht club gets hammered by the DA, just like the black guy who orders from the dollar menu, doesn't that mean the system is kind of working? Just asking. Go visit the local jail — any jail — and see who's behind bars.
Maybe DeBacco should get together for lunch with the lawyers from the public defender's office. They can swap stories about injustice. But if they meet for lunch at the Catawba Island Club, I hope DeBacco picks up the tab.