04/22/05 — What record? Disappearing ink leaves no trace

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What record? Disappearing ink leaves no trace

A Wayne County man charged with six violations was fined a total of $500 and taxed with court costs recently.

It was a plea-bargain arrangement the District Attorney’s office called “a good resolution of the cases.”

District Court Judge Rose Williams presided over the session in which the defendant had entered a plea of guilty to two of the five charges — all involving wildlife violations.

A prayer for judgment was continued for 12 months in the other three cases.

The defendant’s hunting privileges were suspended for a year, but the court allowed him to continue fishing.

The judge and the assistant district attorney obviously were attentive when the defense lawyer noted that the man had no previous violations.

A defendant’s record certainly should be a valid consideration in our system of justice when meting out sentences.

But it must have raised the eyebrows of some citizens when they read, in a news account of the recent action, that if the man maintains a clean record for a year, “the convictions will be removed from his record.”

Under that decision by the court, a person could be charged with violations 13 months later and be represented to the court as having “no previous record.” A first offender, according to the record.

A person’s court record should be just that — a record. And not one written with disappearing ink.

Published in Editorials on April 22, 2005 11:07 AM