Tuesday, April 29, 2008


GNAWING ON THE POUND OF FLESH: The absurd 20 year term Puna pot-grower David Finley received from Circuit Court Judge Glenn Hara has been tossed around recently, not only here but in a post (and its comments section) at Planet Kaua`i from Pete Antonson about the practice of “sending a message”.

Pete actually made sense this time as opposed to his usual vapid, intentionally ill-informed drivel like his Superferry cheerleading letter to the editor in today’s local paper.

But now new information from the Big Island’s premiere blogger, journalist Hunter Bishop speaks to the hypocrisy and, with along with some “comments”, explains what might well be behind the “message” Hara apparently tried to “send”.

Here’s what Bishop, who was canned by the Hawai`i Tribune-Herald in their recent anti-union dust up, had to say Sunday about the sentencing in another recent case before Hara- that of Charles Rosecrans- as compared to Finley’s.

David Finley was by all accounts a good guy, a family man with ties to the community and his church. More than 90 people who know him wrote letters asking Judge Glenn Hara to give him probation after his conviction for being a big-time commercial marijuana grower at his Volcano ranch.

Finley had already spent 14 months in jail and forfeited $85,000 while the case was being prosecuted. First-time offenders like Finley often get

Another drug offender,
Charles Rosecrans, was searched before boarding a flight to Oahu and was found to have nearly an ounce of cocaine concealed in his pants and about 100 pills, XENIX and Avocet, in his luggage. Rosecrans said he was going to Oahu "to party."

Rosecrans has a "history of Dues" and four prior convictions, Deputy Prosecutor Jason Skier told Judge Hara. In February 2007, Rosecrans was sentenced to 20 years in prison for second- degree promotion of a dangerous drug and first-degree promotion of a harmful drug, a class A felony.

But earlier this month Rosecrans went back before Judge Hara for resentencing, just a few days before Finley appeared in Hara's court for sentencing.

There was no flood of letters from the community attesting to Charles Rosecrans’ character or calling for leniency from the court -- at least none reported.

No one said David Finley was a danger to the community, as Skier had described Rosecrans:

“My concerns, at the time of (Rosecrans') initial sentencing, and at the time of his resentencing was the amount of drugs. He has a history of DUIs. He's been convicted four times. He is somebody that has an untreated drug problem, and driving around. Somebody like that is a danger to the community.”

Yet it was Finley, 65, who was given two 20-year prison terms and Rosecrans (no age given) who got probation.

In Finley's case, Judge Glenn Hara said it was not easy for him and he spoke for several minutes about how marijuana is "entrenched in our island way of life," the Tribune-Herald reported. And while acknowledging the public debate on marijuana's place in society, Hara said to Finley:

“I know you really regret what you did. But we have these laws ... Any sentence other than prison will undermine the community's respect for these laws. The only thing they will hear is 'probation’.”

Well, now, after Charles Rosecrans' resentencing, all I hear is "probation" and I’m also hearing the word “travesty.”

How can this gross sentencing inequity instill greater respect for the law? Doesn't probation for cocaine, DUI and multiple repeat offenses also undermine the community's respect for these laws? Does Judge Hara really think Finley’s marijuana farm was worse for society than Rosecrans’ dangerous record?

On a different level, does it make sense to fill another long-term prison bed with the likes of David Finley while letting Charles Rosecrans off on probation? What a crazy world when the good family man goes to prison and the dangerous party guy gets a big break.
Do you feel any safer tonight?

But perhaps equally revealing, presumably true, is a comment on Bishop’s post from “Hugh Clark”.

"One should not forget, the last time Prosecutor Kimura was challenged in an election was many years ago when Hara was rejected by voters.Glenn is a bright and able attorney but not about to be lenient in the courtroom. That should be weighed the next time a career prosecutor is appointed to the bench"

And another comment, this one from someone called “dakine”, asks another pertinent question.

"Does the prosecutor get some bennies from the feds for keeping the case 'high profile'? Don't they, and the police department make a substantial share of the proceeds from any forfeiture earnings?"

The answer is yes because, although the actual funds go to the police department, often they can be funds that the prosecutior’s office might have had to spend to take care of police-prosecutor cooperation matters. Even though that would seem to violate the way asset forfiture funds are supposed to be used- for things not ordinarily covered in a PD budget- it is common practice.

There is a limited pool of judicial candidate- they have to be lawyers. But a disproportionate number come from prosecutorial backgrounds and a disproportionate number of them show the type of bias that compromises justice in the name of the biases and outright lack of perspective that can come from years of a “get the bad guy” mentality that some may want to see from a prosecutor but is inappropriate for someone who is there to be an impartial arbiter of justice.

The vigilante mentality of the populace that often comprises a “Confederacy of Dunces” doesn’t excuse allowing a “Toole” of over zealousness to sit on the bench.
Note Pete Antonson's name was misspelled. The above has been corrected


Anonymous said...

I get that you, Andy Parx, can't grasp the difference, but Pete Antonson's letter wasn't about the Superferry.

Anonymous said...

amusing to have a disorganized, sloppy psuedo journalist call someone "vapid".

It appears that you are brilliant if you agree with Parx (the ditzy Glenn Mickens) but are vapid if you disagree.

Standard yellow press.

Anonymous said...

"his usual vapid, intentionally ill-informed drivel"

Anonymous said...

Fact checking Andy would be a full time job. Luckly he freely admits he's ruled by his biases. So we can all discount 9/10 of what he posts.

Anonymous said...

Why assume it's "hypocrisy"? You don't think it's possible there are differences between the cases that explain the different outcomes?

Anonymous said...

only 90%???

that's awfully kind.