HATE     5'?m3f Hate crimes laws: politics as usual

(scene: judge's bench or podium)

JUDGE -- (enters wearing black robe, crosses to bench, pounds
gavel) This court will come to order. (reads) Our first order of
business is the arraignment of Robert Edward Johnson. Are the
attorneys present?

PROSECUTOR -- (enters carrying two file folders, crosses 
speaking) The defendant is charged with one count of simple 
assault, Your Honor. (opens folder, drops on Judge's bench)

JUDGE -- (studies folder very briefly) I see. And how does the
defendant plead?

DEFENSE -- (enters carrying briefcase, crosses speaking) Your
Honor, my client was prepared to enter into a plea bargain with
the D.A.'s office. But the prosecutor is not proceeding in good

JUDGE -- Is that true?

PROSECUTOR -- It's partially true, Your Honor. The defendant did 
offer to plea to disorderly conduct, but our hands are tied on 
this matter.

JUDGE -- How so?

PROSECUTOR -- The assault in question has been labeled a hate
crime and, as such, the law limits our latitude in resolving the
case without a jury trial.

JUDGE -- A hate crime, you say?

PROSECUTOR -- Yes. The victim of the assault is a member of a
group that is on the list of hate crime victims.

JUDGE -- So, the victim is the member of a minority?

PROSECUTOR -- In a manner of speaking.

DEFENSE -- In a pig's eye.

JUDGE -- Order in the court! (pounds gavel)

DEFENSE -- I'm sorry, Your Honor. But if anything qualifies as a
travesty of justice, this case certainly does.

JUDGE -- Why?

DEFENSE -- (to Prosecutor) You say it. I can't say it with a
straight face.

JUDGE -- What's going on here?!

PROSECUTOR -- The MINORITY that the victim belongs to is...
well, he's a tool and die maker.

JUDGE -- A tool and die maker?! You're joking!

PROSECUTOR -- No, Your Honor. (opens another folder, lays on
bench) The new state law took effect yesterday. The defendant is
the first person to be tried for this hate crime.

JUDGE -- This is unbelieveable!

DEFENSE -- That's what I said.

JUDGE -- You mean that if the defendant is found guilty, he'll 
get extra jail time merely because is victim was a tool and die 

PROSECUTOR -- According to the new law, the penalty is twenty
years to life. And the penalty is non-negotiable.

JUDGE -- This is unbelieveable! How could this happen?

DEFENSE -- This is what happens when society stops thinking
about justice for individuals and starts promoting groups through
the justice system.

JUDGE -- You're right. The constitution has no provision for
rights for groups. Only for individuals.

DEFENSE -- That's exactly what I'm saying, Your Honor. The Tool
and Die Makers association only made an existing travesty more

PROSECUTOR -- Don't blame me. I didn't write the law.

DEFENSE -- Like the other minorities, the tool and die makers 
knew that if their name got into the headlines more often, their 
group would receive free publicity, and would likely receive 
special privileges elsewhere in society. So, they lobbied the 
state legislature to get tool and die makers put on the hate 
crime list. And now it's law.

PROSECUTOR -- You know, I personally never really like the hate
crime laws. I never thought that a crime deserves a stiffer
penalty merely because the victim's group is on a list. I hope
noone thinks that this is anything personal.

JUDGE -- (studying file) Nobody is blaming you. (sigh) Well, the
statute is clear. If the defendant knew that the victim was a
member of the listed group...

PROSECUTOR -- We have witnesses that will swear the the 
defendant knew his victim was a tool and die maker, Your Honor.

JUDGE -- Well, I guess that leaves me no choice. The tool and
die makers will get their wish. If they want headlines, they've
got headlines. This simple assault will be tried as a hate crime
with a minimum penalty of twenty years in prison.

DEFENSE -- Your Honor! Isn't there SOMETHING you can do?

JUDGE -- I'm sorry. How does the defendant plead?

DEFENSE -- (sigh) Not guilty.

JUDGE -- I assume that the D.A. will recommend O.R.?

PROSECUTOR -- Normally, we would recommend that the defendant
would be released on his own recognizance, Your Honor. But, faced
with a minimum sentence of twenty years, the risk of flight is
huge. We recommend a bail of $100,000.

JUDGE -- $100,000 for a punch in the nose?! 

PROSECUTOR -- That's what the guidelines call for, Your Honor.

JUDGE -- Hate crimes! (pause) I'm going against the guidelines 
and releasing the defendant on his own recognizance. And if the 
defendant has any common sense at all he'll flee from this state 
and relocate to a jurisdiction that has the good sense to reject 
such ridiculous laws as hate crimes. (pounds gavel) This court 
is adjourned. (pounds gavel)

(all exit)

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