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American justice

Yesterday, it was announced that the judge in the Martha Stewart court proceedings will not allow a new trial. 
Martha Stewart was accused of acting on insider trading and lying to investigators. 

Her problems started when her stock broker notified her that the owner of ImClone was selling off all his stock in his company.  Why - because the FDA had disapproved the company’s new drug that they wanted to market.   

This new drug was toted as a new weapon in the fight against disease and the company’s stock price jumped in anticipation of FDA approval.  Well, the FDA said NO.   

The FDA’s letter was sent to the company’s owner, and before the contents were made public, he and his family started dumping their stock.  In short, selling stock for a profit that they knew was going to be worthless after the FDA announcement. 

Martha Stewart was a friend of the company’s founder and owner. 

Stewart received information that the owner was dumping his stock, and Stewart in turn dumped hers.  Then, the damning FDA disapproval information was made public. In the Stewart sell off, she made a significant amount of money. 

She was arrested and tried for acting on insider trading and lying to investigators about her actions. She had dummied up her telephone logs and created this story she had an arrangement with her stock broker to do an automatic sell-off if the stock dropped under $60.00 per share. 

There was no such agreement.   

Stewart now faces sentencing for a single crime and that is lying to investigators – a felony.  But she is negotiating her penalty phase – she is suggesting that she be ordered to teach women how to start a business rather than going to jail. 

Alright, I’m confused here.  If a person robs a bank and nets $100.00, they are going to do their full 20 years in prison.  But if a person steals millions from a company, they can negotiate their punishment? 

We had a former president lie to a grand jury – something that would send a mortal man to prison for 10 years.  This former president walked.  

We have a prison for ‘white collar crime’ – its nick name is Club Fed.  The inmates’ idea of cruel and unusual punishment is when the golf course is closed for maintenance.   

Rob a bank and you will serve time in some very nasty prison.  Rob millions and you can go golfing? 

Lie to a grand jury and walk away? 

America has always favored the rich and famous – we seem to have empathy for them when they commit wrong doing.  Za Za Gabor’s husband was reported to have said “Wealth people should be treated differently”. 

A few years ago, a member of a very rich family in New England, crashed his car in a canal while in a drunken stupor.  His passenger drowned.  The next day, with big alligator tears, he claimed he remembered nothing.  And, nothing did happen to him – justice somehow turned a blind eye.  If mortal man did something like that, I am not sure I could even begin to count the number of felonies, nor the number of years a person would spend in prison. 

During the Viet Nam conflict, a very famous actress went to North Viet Nam – this was during a period of time when it was illegal to even go to a communist country, let alone a belligerent. There are still questions being asked about Ms. Fonda’s behavior while she was there.  She came back to the US and never faced justice.   

In the city where I live, a prominent attorney pointed a firearm at his neighbor for the sole purpose of terrifying him into moving.  A deer that was eating his raspberries was executed on the spot for this crime by this attorney.  Three gun related felonies.  No criminal charges were ever filed, even though the man publicly admitted he did these two things. This attorney still carries a gun. If mortal man had done this, he/she could expect a minimum of 20 years in prison. 

Seven years ago, a friend of mine was killed when a truck ran a stop sign and hit Chris broadside.  The witnesses stated the truck driver had passed them at well over the speed limit and this was going around a blind curve.  The intersection is clearly marked and that stop sign is at least 6 feet across.  The truck driver ran that stop sign according to witnesses.  He hit Chris, and Chris was killed instantly.  What makes this different is that the truck driver owns a company that sells yachts to very wealthy people – and this guy was not poor by any stretch of the imagination.  There seemed to be a relatively long time – in ordinate amount of time in fact, before this guy was brought to trial.  Why?  A private detective followed this guy and watches him hiding his assets. Apparently this was permitted for some reason.  The guy got a careless driving ticket, both fine and sentence suspended.  Mortal man would have gone to prison for 5 years.  

What is wrong with American justice?  If justice is supposed to be blind to outside influences, and all men are created equal – why the discrepancies in criminal proceedings?    

Until that inequality is equalized, we do have duel standards and not all men are created equal.  And, we don’t have the courage or fortitude to admit we have inequality. 

Or, are we going to hear that Martha Stewart is sentenced to a year of doing television shows, once again toting the products of her company.  And showing us how to make salads……  As if nothing happened at all. 

Michael Berglin

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