Friday, November 13, 2009

Regarding the Case of Oreo the Dog.

I had meant to sit down today and record a podcast. Something sort of light, to get back into the swing of things. It is usually a bad idea for me to open up a web browser if I am trying to do something like that. A bad idea on a good day, with good luck. Today, when I sat down, I fired up The Gothamist and saw this story:
Update: Oreo, Dog Thrown Off Building, Was Euthanized.

Podcast over. Light blog post over. I chewed up all my free time writing the following, to the judge who is hearing the case:

November 13, 2009

Hon. Cassandra M. Mullen

Kings County Supreme Court
320 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Subject: Fabian Henderson and case #06995-2009

Your Honor,

I have never written to a judge before. I suppose I never thought it would make much of a difference either way, “Justice is blind” and so forth. A confluence of events, however, has created a situation where writing you seems not only reasonable, but necessary.

The idea to write to a judge probably started in the very building you are sitting in, when I served on a jury for two weeks this year, deliberating an armed robbery trial. To see both the good and troubling parts of our legal system was eye opening. Perhaps what surprised me most was the realization The Justice System was not a System to organize Justice to serve The People, but a System to organize The People that they might best deliver Justice. That our system involves a jaw-dropping amount of individual people with their own ability and conscience, most of them with a chance to influence the direction of the case they are involved in, be they a defendant, witness, lawyer, judge or layman juror. That the entire Justice System was, in effect, human sized.

The catalyst was the death of a dog this afternoon, the victim in your case noted above. I am certain you are receiving numerous calls and letters from crazed pet owners and animal lovers regarding this case. That I am writing this at all means I am one of them, I suppose, and I will let them speak for me regarding the animal-related subjects which must bore you already. I am embarrassed, frankly, the death of a dog has engendered this letter, while cruel crimes against humans, children even, have not. I can't explain it. I do not value the lives of animals over those of people. I suppose it may be something in the reports alleging signs of long term abuse culminating in an afternoon of acute abuse the level of which prompted concerned phone calls even before the final tossing of the dog from the roof. Prolonged, deliberate cruelty, if the charges are true.

I imagine circumstances around the life of the accused are also unfortunate at best, possibly cruel. I don't believe either revenge or Hammurabi should stalk the halls of our courts. But if he is found guilty, I do believe the sentence in this case will be a statement from our City to itself. What will we tolerate within our borders? What is the minimum level of humanity we will require of those who wish to live among us? As you know, this case will not be one that slips quietly away. The verdict and sentencing, if necessary, will be a departure point for quite literally millions of discussions throughout the city. You may have an opportunity to center each of those conversations around the reclamation of a small piece of our city's moral character. Thank you for your attention.

Don Wood