Original article posted in the Willamette Week Newspaper & WWEEK.COM
Commentary by Tom Ifversen:
The Nov. 29 cover article ["Two Crimes, Two Punishments"] I found to be misleading and misguided. Ian Demsky wanted us to believe that criminal defendants are treated differently because of who they are, not what they did. The examples he chose did little to further his point.
Ballot Measure 11 gives prosecutors the exclusive power to decide who gets charged, and thereby who gets sent to prison for a long, long time. Mr. Demsky apparently was titillated by the stereotype that rich girls like Cory Sause get treated differently than poor boys like Zack Driver. Facts such as where the Sause family lives, how much their house is worth, what her parents do for a living and what interesting items were found in the back of her car do nothing to further the point of the article, only to enforce the stereotype he is trying to portray.
Two stark facts differentiate these cases: First, the practices of the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office are different from those in Multnomah County, thus Measure 11 is enforced differently in each county; and second, the rich girl elected to take a plea bargain and cut her losses while the poor boy rejected a plea deal, rolled the dice and lost. His sentence is NOT the result of disproportionate justice.
You insult the hardworking efforts of the public defenders and every other lawyer who fights for the rights of the poor and underprivileged by suggesting they are responsible for any bad outcomes in their clients’ cases. Unfortunately for Mr. Driver, the harsh reality is that a judge has very little discretion when imposing a sentence of one convicted under Measure 11.
Ifversen Law Group