Congrats to you John. As to Felony Murder being a big deal, the same could be said for being killed by a drunk driver who has failed to appreciate the danger he poses to others by committing the offense of DWI on two prior occassions. That is the motivation for wanting to give the jurors the option of a higher range of punishment.
Posts: 253 | Location: Fort Worth, Texas | Registered: February 21, 2001
Cultural changes do not come easy. The notion that it is OK to risk driving home drunk is a cultural problem. Seeing a drunk person can be a cause for laughter. Heck, town drunks are famous for being funny and wise throughout literature. They are the court jesters of old.
That same drunk in a several ton SUV or truck is not quite so wise or funny. So, as prosecutors, we are part of the energy being used to change cultural norms.
One way we change opinion is to prosecute people and punish in ways that get the attention of those with otherwise short or non-existent attention spans. Drunks are notorious for claiming to change and then forgetting. So, if a felony murder prosecution is what it takes to move the norm, I'm all for it.
As Richard notes, the person already got a couple smacks upside the head from the criminal justice system. That not having worked, it is very reasonable, at least to me, to hold them responsible for what is really a reckless and perhaps deliberate act leading to a death.
I'm not troubled at all by it. It's not like felony murder carries a death sentence, or even automatic life. The circumstances of the case clearly would allow a judge or jury to take the individuals moral culpability into account. It raises the minimum punishment only slightly, and the maximum punishment is only potential until the jury makes a judgment on the facts of the individual case. One other point: it's not the two prior guilty pleas that makes someone a felony murderer; it's getting drunk, driving, and killing someone else. Felony murder is only a "big deal" if you commit it--and it's pretty easy to not commit DWI.
We have a felony murder via DWI 3rd coming up for trial and were set to deal with a Motion to Quash based on the culpable mental state and in pari materia arguments. I had a "cite alert" set on Lomax. The decision was posted on this forum two days before my cite alert let me know about the decision. My boss was reading the forum and stumbled upon it afternoon of the 27th and defense simply withdrew their motion when we pointed out Lomax to them before the hearings the next day. Way to make us look good, guys.
Posts: 51 | Location: Montogmery County | Registered: June 23, 2003