A primer in Innocence

I sent a version of this to WildBigSur in response to Bill Monning’s comment, but Jack has a way of censoring me, and not posting my comments, so I wanted to share this here.

Please remember, we only have allegations at this point, and we only have a very narrow, and incomplete story. All these individuals are INNOCENT until they are either found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers, or they plead guilty to any possible charges, which may be much less than what they were arrested for. Family members and loved ones of those accused are reading the comments posted online at news sites, and it is adding to the pain they are already feeling. I have talked to several of them throughout the day and night, and they are in shock, pain, and reaching out to make sense of what is happening. Public comments make that harder.

My 31 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney for indigent clients has taught me that the initial charges are often times very exaggerated, and the charges actually filed by an attorney for the District Attorney’s Office may be less than what the police are asking for, and what is found true or admitted may be even less still. “Overcharging” is a common way to “force” a plea’bargain, which might not otherwise happen, and a way to keep defendants locked up in jail on outrageous bail amounts.

Be considerate and kind in your thoughts and comments. Unless you are on the jury with evidence from both sides presented to you, it is not up to us to judge.

16 thoughts on “A primer in Innocence

  1. Ok, Kate, I hear you loud and clear, and I’m so sorry for the pain that the the loved ones and dear friends of those who have been arrested are experiencing. They are indeed innocent, according to our laws, until proven guilty. And, we appreciate your legal perspective, it’s a good balance to all the comments going around.

  2. Refreshing to have such a radical ( root ) grounded attitude expressed about how our legal values and principles should be manifested.

    Thank you.

  3. very idealistic often not realistic, I prefer the former.

  4. Right on Kate. The “conviction” by the media publicity disgusts me. The huge amount of taxpayer money expended to arrest 5 people was obscene! Helicopters, phalanxes of officers in riot gear, and so on. Who planned such a publicity stunt?! The media is eating it up. Meanwhile, there are murderers, robbers, rapists, and thugs out in the streets, on the loose, and nobody cares.
    I feel sick.

  5. And oh, one more thing. You said it…Just as I told all the kids at school today. We live in the United States. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave, where there is justice. Under our constitution, our forefathers set forth that one is INNOCENT (as you said), until proven guilty by a jury of peers…BEYOND A SHADOW OF DOUBT. As a veteran, I (and you, too) have given a major piece of our lives in service and defense of this country and its principles. So, to see the media twist it so, raises my hackles.

  6. Last night I talked to the owner of Treebones, and she thinks this whole thing is quite trumped up. The retired guy from Cal-Trans with the signs found on his property, Phil Taylor, is a huge pat rack, and would have easily kept all the old signs rather than just throw them away. There were no new signs found on his property, only the old discarded ones. And if the Cal -Trans employees didn’t go out at night and remove boulders from the hiway, there would be a lot more accidents, especially for the locals who drive that area at night. So, we have to wonder, what is Really going on here? More than meets the eye. And a million dollar bail? Well, that’s an astronomical bail usually set for murderers, not Cal-Trans employees accused, but of course innocent until Proven guilty, of fraud on their time cards. These guys are pillars of the community down there, including the PTA President. Just sayin…

  7. Lois, That is exactly what I have felt. There is more than meets the eye here. What is truly going on? I personally know and love everyone involved and I must trust that the truth will prevail. These people risk their lives for us every day they hit the highway. And I believe the integrity and honor each one of these people carry within would never transpire to the actions they are accused of.

  8. Kate-
    A lot of us community members are very angry with the way the CHP and the CalTrans CEOs handled the situation. We know the accused Cal Trans workers as neighbors and friends who risk their lives for us on a daily basis. We know them as gentle, kindhearted people who have volunteered numerous hours to the Pacific Valley School, the South Coast Community Land Trust, the Pacific Valley School PTO, the Big Sur/Pacific Unified School District Board and to the community in various ways. It is unbelievable that they have been treated like murderers and armed robbers by the authorities. I’ll bet that the cost to the state for the excessive use of manpower and equipment to arrest and imprison the accused is far in excess of the amount that the suspects are accused of bilking from the state. It’s ridiculous that the authorities acted as if they needed to treat our friends and neighbors as if they were a violent sect ready to resist arrest by firearms. Big Sur is not Waco, Texas! I am sure that the local CHP have enough interaction with our Cal Trans crew to know that they are not violent or threatening and not likely to resist arrest. If all they are guilty of is a bit of pilfering of old signs and broken guard rails and putting in more overtime than Cal Trans thinks is reasonable, why in heavens sake couldn’t Cal Trans deal with those issues internally without having to cause a traumatic disturbance to the whole south coast?

  9. These heroes, wonderful colorful human beings, risking their lives daily…were betrayed…that’s all…LET THE REAL STORY COME OUT!

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