Saturday, December 14, 2013

"Affluenza"

It's not the first time in American history a Texas court has been held up to ridicule and condemnation over its coddling of rich criminals.

Texas has always been infected with "affluenza," or rather infected with juries and judges feeling sorry for rich people who get themselves into trouble. If you are poor or middle class, well, you don't want to be in Texas because the state is all too willing to throw the book at you or even throw you on death row.

The case of Ethan Couch is pretty outrageous, and the judge no doubt made her decision as much because of his age as his wealth, but there are even more outrageous cases that have happened in Texas, and they involved juries.

The two biggest travesties in the history of American criminal justice happened in Texas and involved two murderers involved in two separate crimes some 25 or so years apart, T. Cullen Davis in the 1970s, and Robert Durst in the early 2000s, and they were both acquitted despite the overwhelming evidence they were both guilty of murder. Durst is likely to have killed two other people in addition to Morris Black including his first wife Kathie and a friend, Susan Berman, in two other states. He is one scary individual, but he continues to walk free. He also has many, many millions of dollars to live off of, so he doesn't have to work. Davis, who killed his 12-year-old stepdaughter and his ex-wife's boyfriend, Stan Farr, was actually richer than Durst going by 1970s dollars (Davis was said to have been the richest individual ever tried for murder in the United States), but despite eyewitnesses to the crime, got acquitted in the murder trial of his stepdaughter (he was never tried for the Stan Farr murder). From what I have read there was clear tampering with the legal process, but Davis got away with it. He even got away with charges he tried to arrange a hit on a judge and others and was caught on camera in a sting operation, yet he was acquitted of that. It appears juries in the Lone Star State worship wealth, and they will give murderers a pass if their bank accounts are large enough.

However, unlike Durst, Davis did eventually lose all of his fortune and was forced to work for modest pay as a minister or something related to it. He had to give up that ugly house he killed over because he couldn't afford to keep it. However, he should have been locked up for the rest of his life. Davis is 80 years old now. His ex-wife, Priscilla, was a broken woman who had to endure the indignity of having her reputation trashed in the murder trial when she should have had the utmost respect for having lost two loved ones. It was sickening. She died of breast cancer in 2001, aged only 59.

Given that kind of empathy for the rich, it's little wonder Ethan Couch got sympathy from a judge. It wouldn't have mattered if he had gone to trial. He probably would have gotten off with a jury there.

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