Posts Tagged ‘Criminal Records’

Don’t Hide from Your Record

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

It seems like nearly every election cycle a political candidate is caught lying to one of the state’s newspapers about criminal convictions in their past. Despite the embarrassment that occurs when they are inevitably caught in a lie, it is sad to say that many of those who have criminal convictions – and more importantly lie about them – in their past go on to win their elections [side note: I can think of at least two from this past election cycle].

Well, now it looks like two legislators, both defense attorneys, want to make it easier for convicted criminals to get elected to office without the burden of their past criminal convictions (subscription):

If two criminal defense lawyers serving in the Legislature get their way, a lot of New Mexico ex-cons wouldn’t have to worry about their rap sheets following them around the rest of their lives.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, and Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, are pushing bills that would allow judges to wipe away court and police records of offenders who complete sentences for certain crimes and aren’t charged with new crimes for a certain period of time.

The bills are not identical, but under one or the other offenses that could be expunged range from petty crimes like shoplifting, which could disappear after one year, to DWIs after ten years. Records of most violent felonies that don’t involve death, sex crimes or weapons could also be expunged after ten years. Domestic violence arrests and convictions would be eligible for expungement.

This is an absurd bill. Yes, people do stupid things in their lives, and some might even result in a criminal record. This is especially true when people are young. However, the strength of a person’s character comes not from hiding from their past mistakes, but from owning those mistakes and never making them again. Heck, if a man can get elected President of the United States without his DWI conviction being expunged, what possible rationale can we have for expunging public records.

In other news, federal investigations continue to move forward and ethics bills are still to be pushed through the legislature. Also, the “ brother of disgraced political heavyweight Manny Aragon to five years in prison for his part in a drug-smuggling operation. ” But wait, it gets better:

In a sentencing memorandum, the U.S. Attorney’s Office noted that Charles Aragon was sentenced to three years in prison after his 1978 conviction for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. In late 1990, five years after parole ended for the earlier conviction, he became part of the Mexican Mafia and operated a large-scale drug trafficking organization that moved more than 22,000 pounds of marijuana over several years through the U.S. In 1992, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in that conspiracy.

Just think… he twice managed to go ten years without getting caught. I guess some legislators would argue he should have had his record expunged because he was a changed man.

Maybe a Write-in PRC Candidate for District 3?

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Jerome Block, Sr., the father of the Democratic PRC candidate for District 3, sent myself and two others a note last Thursday with a simple question:

Now that you have reported extensively about the grave crime of peeing in the bushes, when will you report about the candidate who beats women?!

It’s definitely a fair question. Of course, contrary to popular belief lately, I don’t actually report things. Instead, I tend to opine on things reported. The good news for Mr. Block, Sr. is that “the candidate who beats women” (as he put it) was reported on by one of my favorite political reporters, Mr. Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican:

And Lass apparently won’t be making an issue of Block’s past legal skirmishes. He told The New Mexican this week that he thinks it’s “odd” Block doesn’t remember his disorderly conduct violation. “I actually consider this a bit of a distraction from the main campaign that I plan on running, talking about how important the PRC is and how we need an advocate for the people,” Lass said.

Lass, in a 2004 interview when he was running for a state Senate seat, admitted he’d been arrested in 1999 on a misdemeanor charge of simple battery in a fight with his girlfriend. He said the charge was dropped after he successfully completed the Municipal Court domestic-violence program, which he said involved anger-management classes.

But at least he remembered it.

Mr. Block Sr., a seasoned politician in his own right, should have told his son that pretending something didn’t happen doesn’t make it go away. Block Jr.’s problem is less about committing “the grave crime of peeing in the bushes,” and more about his unwillingness to come clean with that and other details. What could have been written off as juvenile stupidity has instead turned into a questionable character trait of an adult – namely, the ability to come clean with the truth.

As to Mr. Lass, well, he has come clean; however, that does little in my eyes to make him electable. I said the first time I wrote about Mr. Block Jr.’s problems that his opponent deserved a second look. Now, after a second look at both candidates, I’d suggest that the citizens of PRC District 3 might want to encourage a write-in candidate for the $90,000 a year job. On the upside, if the candidate does not have any past criminal charges, he or she would already have a leg up on the competition.

I don’t know what it is about the PRC, but for such a small group, they sure do attract individuals who seem to have more than their fair share of legal troubles – from misdemeanor battery charges to peeing in the bushes to sexual harassment to possession of marijuana.

Geez, what a bunch. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the PRC is one of those elected positions that the candidates get to run for on the taxpayers’ dime. Yup, there is no doubt about it. Taxpayer funded elections sure are bringing us a higher caliber of candidate.

Three Strikes You’re Out

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Our legal system is broken when an honorably discharged veteran is sent to jail for protecting his private property from being burglarized by a twice convicted felon (subscription):

Elton John Richard II made split-second decisions— good ones— as a member of an elite Marine reconnaissance unit clearing towns ahead of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

But District Judge Albert “Pat” Murdoch ordered Richard to spend two years in a New Mexico prison Friday for a decision that propelled him into a fatal pursuit of a man he thought was breaking into his home in 2004.

Richard, then working a Department of Energy courier with a Q clearance, fatally shot Daniel Romero, 34, after chasing him from his yard to Paseo del Norte.

That was taken from a Journal article over the weekend. Today’s article makes it even clearer that sending Mr. Richard to jail is nothing short of a travesty of justice (subscription):

Police later located a friend of Romero’s, who told them he needed parts for his Bronco and dropped off Romero in the neighborhood with a screwdriver and a hammer thinking he was going to steal a Bronco.

According to a police report, the friend parked on the street near a Dumpster and saw Romero come running from a house where a Bronco was parked in the driveway with a man running after him “beating him up.”

Confirmation that there was criminal intent and the twice convicted felon was indeed caught in the act of burglarizing the private property of a law-abiding citizen – a citizen who had put his own life on the line numerous times in service to our country. Service to insure that we have the right to protect our private property.

How is this service repaid?

Assistant District Attorney Theresa Whatley said the case was one of a good man doing a bad thing.

Noting the victim’s two prior burglary convictions and making reference to recent car theft statistics, she said the court should send a message to people about being overly zealous in protecting their property.

It’s time to send a message to the District Attorney’s office that criminals belong in jail, not people protecting their property.

Some Standards Shouldn’t Be Relaxed

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Maybe I’m just being old fashioned, but I think some standards should be upheld no matter how tight the job market (subscription):

The Police Executive Research Forum study also noted a drop from 36 percent to 20 percent in recent years of departments that require candidates to have a clean criminal record.

Many departments also subject their recruits to lie-detector tests in which they are asked about their drug use. But cities such as Fort Myers, Fla., are overlooking occasional use of drugs such as Ecstasy and powdered cocaine as long as it was more than five years in the past. Most departments still disallow anyone with a felony conviction.

“It’s different now for the kids. There’s a lot of drugs out there,” said Fort Myers Maj. Glenn Johnson. “I’d hate to rule them out because of that.”

He’d hate to rule out police recruits because of drug use? And only 20% of police departments require candidates to have clean record? To quote a retired law enforcement officer, “What’s wrong with this picture?”