As I said more commentary related to this story was coming, I just didn’t have time to write it all out yesterday when I penned the first post. Aside from the lack of “stand your ground” law the story of Mr. Lewis demonstrates a failure of our so-called justice system in general.
In fact I don’t refer to what we have in the United States as a justice system. Justice would imply compensation for your losses and life returning to normal if you’re incorrectly accused of a crime. The system we have in the United States would best be labeled a punishment system. My reason for saying this is because everybody, the innocent and guilty, are punished severely in our system either through prison terms or property loss. A perfect example of this is the recent case of Jay Rodney Lewis who lost everything for simply defending himself:
Ludwick, a former soldier and convicted felon, was driving four people home from a Halloween party. Documents say Ludwick slowed; Lewis passed him. Ludwick sped up, and the cars raced down 11th Street until they came to Regency Woods. They collided when Lewis, in front and on the right, started to turn left.
Lewis said Ludwick and a passenger, Justin Lossner, got out of the Taurus and began punching the Mustang’s windows.
They backed off when Lewis pulled out his .380-caliber pistol. But they came back.
Lewis said he was outside his car, evaluating its damage, when he caught Ludwick and Lossner trying to sneak up on him from two different directions.
The recording of a 911 call made by Lewis begins with Lewis yelling at the two to “just stay where you are. Get back! Get back! I’m going to start shooting!”
There are exchanges of profanities while Lewis explains the situation to a police dispatcher. Then, “Get away from me. Get away from me!” And a bang.
The 911 call makes it pretty obvious that Mr. Lewis attempted to resolve the situation without resorting to violence, which was later upheld by a jury. Considering the call and the situation I would not have initially arrested Lewis but the police not only saw fit to arrest him but the court saw it necessary to put such a high bail on his release that he had no hope of paying it:
The initial bail asked Lewis to post $225,000 cash.
Lewis, who made $32,359 a year at the IRS, didn’t have the money. So he sat in jail.
Bail is one of the most sickening ideas our punishment system has come up with. If you’re arrested you can give the state a pile of money and they’ll let you walk around freely until your trial date. Whether you’re found guilty or innocent the state gets to keep the bail money. It’s hard to argue that bail is anything besides a fund raising attempt by the state since an act of justice would be returning that money to any person found innocent of the crime they were accused of. I’m still unsure of how the average person came to accept the idea of bail as a justifiable idea.
The state didn’t get Mr. Lewis’s money though because he didn’t have enough, but they did make sure he lost all of his property by keeping him locked up:
One week after the shooting, a lawyer for Regency Woods typed up a notice that eventually was posted on the door of Lewis’ apartment. It described Lewis as a “clear and present danger to the health or safety of the other tenants.” As evidence, it cited Lewis’ involvement in “an assault with a weapon within 1,000 feet of the property described above” and the fact that he’d been arrested because of it.
Despite the fact that Regency Woods knew Lewis had been arrested, no one ever contacted him at the jail. Instead, the apartment complex won a default judgment when Lewis failed to appear in court on Nov. 22.
Lewis learned about all this at roughly 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 30. One jail guard led him to another, who was on the phone. The deputy serving the eviction warrant wanted to know if Lewis had any relatives who could get Lewis’ belongings off the 11th Street curb.
“All my relatives are in Kansas,” Lewis said.
The evicting deputy seized four handguns, three rifles, a shotgun and a machete that had been left in the apartment. But all his clothing and furniture disappeared on Nov. 30, along with a laptop containing the only copy of his fourth novel (a western).
First of all let me say this: fuck Regency Woods. Those guys must be some tremendous assholes if they’re not only willing to evict a tenant for defending his life but also to serve the eviction notice before the man has even been released from prison. I hope those fuckers go bankrupt.
Second I must say that holding Mr. Lewis in prison while his stuff was being tossed out is a terrible act built upon a terrible act. Not only did they hold him in prison for defending himself but they didn’t even both sending somebody to retrieve his stuff when their actions lead to the stuff being tossed out on the curb? Nope, instead they only send an officer to retrieve Mr. Lewis’s weapons, everything else be damned.
What tops this all off though is the fact Mr. Lewis will probably never be compensated for his losses even though he was found entirely innocent:
Prosecutors eventually dropped most of the charges. Trial on the sole remaining count, reckless use of a firearm causing injury, began on Feb. 6. and ended late on Feb. 8.
It was over early the following morning.
“I just don’t think the state did its job to prove he was guilty,” juror Mary Kinney said. “I think the man felt he was in danger.”
That’s a bittersweet victory if there ever was one. Sure Mr. Lewis is out of prison but all of his stuff is gone, he has nowhere to live, and months of his life have been stolen from him by the state that decided it was necessary to kidnap the poor man and throw him in a cage. Legislation is moving through the Iowa legislature that would have prevented this but that does Mr. Lewis no good:
Lewis’ case appears to fit the scenario envisioned by House File 573, a bill now working its way through the Legislature. It would expand current law to specify that a potential victim in a violent situation has “no duty to retreat” and has the right to “meet force with force.”
The legislation, which Sarcone argued against before a House subcommittee last month, also says a person cannot be prosecuted for using force against someone perceived to pose a threat, even if that perception is later proved incorrect.
Let me state that I’m entirely unaware of who Sarcone is, but I do know that he’s a completely asshole:
What Lewis’ case shows is that current law works, Sarcone said: “I don’t know why people are afraid of jury trials. I’m not.”
This has nothing to do with a jury trial. Mr. Lewis is a perfect example of all the punishments an innocent man faces. Sure the jury round him innocent but he lost all of his property and months of his life to a prison. He should have suffered nothing because he did nothing wrong. The 911 call should have been enough evidence to, at least, let Mr. Lewis await his trial date outside the confines of prison walls. Were he not kidnapped and held in a cage he would have been able to retrieve his stuff.
I truly hope Mr. Lewis can get some actual justice. The state should be compensating him for the loss of property caused by their actions of holding him for months. Unless his contract with Regency Woods allows them to evict tenants for defending themselves (since he wasn’t found guilty of any wrongdoing at the time of his eviction they can’t claim they were tossing out a criminal) he should have the right to seek compensation from them as well.
The United States justice system punishes everything. If you raise the ire of the state you will be hurt regardless of your innocence of wrongdoing. Tragedies like this should be made widely known so that people realize how horrible the police state they live in truly. The mantra, “You’re innocent until proven guilty” is a crock of shit and entirely irrelevant since being innocent doesn’t prevent you being punished.
Shit like this is why I’m a voluntaryist.
4 thoughts on “A Justice System Designed to Take Everything”
With every story like this Somalia stops sounding like a terrible place to be and more like a spot of heaven. That or it is time to topple a minor state and set up a minimalist government. You know a defense department of some kind and a state department along with common sense laws, no rape, murder, theft, yeah thats about it.
@zerg539 – What’s interesting about Somalis is the fact that life is improving for people there without the state [PDF]. If things keeping going this way Somalia will change from a country recovering from a horrible regime to a productive nation. They’re basically going the exact opposite way of the United States.
@Jeffery – That makes more sense. I confess that I believed my information to be correct and researched but I must have come across it through hearsay. This is probably one of the first signs of insanity… oh well, I didn’t care much for sanity anyways.
The state doesn’t get to keep bail money if you show up for court. The whole point of bail is you don’t want to forfeit that money so as long as you show up on your court date you get the money back (hence the bail bonds business where you put up 10% and maybe some fee, and the bondsman covers the rest and if you don’t show they sick dog the bounty hunter on your ass!)
Well on a related note the Jon Stossel special of the week is all about the various ways the Government has too many laws and creates a situation where even when you win you still lose.
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