September 7, 2008
Beyond guilt or innocence, remember public safety
THE shooting rampage in Skagit County raises basic issues of public safety. The tragedy is a blatant challenge to assumptions of how well civil society can protect its citizens, and isolate those who are a danger to themselves and others.
As murder suspect Isaac Zamora begins his journey through the criminal-justice system, a parallel proceeding should be initiated by lawmakers in Olympia to examine the failings of laws and institutions intended to protect the public.
Legislative hearings are necessary to acquaint legislators with the seeming disconnect between mental health laws and law enforcement.
The grisly details of the horrific day in the small community of Alger in rural Skagit County will be examined in court. The tragedy unfolded around seven different houses, and claimed five lives. Among them was Skagit County sheriff's deputy Anne Jackson. Two others were injured. A subsequent car chase resulted in the shooting death of a motorist on Interstate 5 and the wounding of two others.
In the aftermath of this bloody spree, the suspect will be ably and dutifully represented. Trials sort out legal guilt or innocence for specific acts.
The role of the Legislature is to determine how rules, regulations and procedures failed to protect a half dozen innocent lives. Zamora had dozens of previous run-ins with the law. For years his erratic moods and volcanic anger scared the daylights out of the residents of Alger. He obviously needed help that he did not receive. An equally compelling need existed to protect his family, friends and neighbors from his dangerous behavior. [Mark Godsey]
Groups protest DNA collection law
The Legislative Black Caucus and civil rights activists criticized yesterday Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan for implementing a new program for collecting DNA samples from crime suspects, accusing the administration of turning its back on hard-fought compromises for safeguards and oversight.
O'Malley made the DNA bill one of his priorities this year and worked hard to win passage of the legislation in the Maryland General Assembly - but only after significant changes during lengthy negotiations, particularly with the Black Caucus. The law calls for DNA samples to be taken from those charged with violent crimes and burglary; previously, samples were taken only after a conviction.
The Maryland State Police issued the proposed regulations to implement the law last month. But concerns from lawmakers have prompted the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review to put a hold on the regulations. The committee doesn't have the authority to overturn the regulations, but it often seeks tweaks during the promulgation of rules.
Leading black lawmakers, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the state public defender's office say the proposed regulations don't ensure that DNA samples are taken only when someone has been charged with a crime, rather than at the time of arrest as would have been the case under language originally proposed by O'Malley. They also say the regulations don't adequately address access to DNA samples or procedures for expungement, which would be required when someone isn't convicted. [Mark Godsey]
Towns demand N.J. pay State Police bill
TRENTON — More than 125 local elected officials from mostly rural New Jersey towns signed up to attend a meeting Thursday night to demand that the state continue to pay for State Police services in rural communities without police departments.
The meeting came a month after 89 towns received a prospective bill in the mail from the state Department of the Treasury, detailing what they would owe the state in order to keep receiving State Police response to calls for police service. The towns have until Dec. 15 to make a decision about staying with the State Police or making other arrangements.
The state has paid for rural coverage since 1921, when the force was established. But Gov. Corzine has said it's time for rural towns to help pay the cost because of the state's financial situation and because taxpayers in municipalities with their own police departments shouldn't have to fund police services in rural communities as well.
Under the state budget, the towns must contribute $12.6 million toward the overall $80 million the state says it costs to provide the rural police services.
Thursday's meeting in Ewing was the towns' latest attack on the State Police fees for service.
"There's a fairness issue here. They're being asked to pay for services, but they don't know what level of services are going to be provided," said William Dressel Jr., executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, which organized the meeting.
These towns don't get State Police neighborhood patrols, said Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow, R-Hunterdon. Troopers respond to an incident when they're called and leave when they're finished, she said. [Mark Godsey]
Fernand N. Dutile Professor of Criminal Law
Fernand N. “Tex” Dutile earned his A.B. from Assumption College in 1962, and his J.D. from Notre Dame in 1965, where he served as the articles editor for the law review, The Notre Dame Lawyer. Admitted to the Maine Bar in 1965, Professor Dutile practiced law in the Honors Program of the U.S. Department of Justice (1965-1966), and taught law at the Catholic University of America (1966-1971) before returning to Notre Dame, as a member of the faculty, in 1971. He became a full professor in 1976. During his tenure at Notre Dame, he has served in a number of administrative positions, including assistant dean (1976-1979), associate dean (1989-1991 and 1993-1999), and acting dean (1991-1993). He co-directed the London Programme in 1991, and taught in that program in 1994 and 1996. He has also held the position of senior visiting fellow at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) and scholar-in-residence at the University of Queensland (Australia) during the summers of 1995 and 1996, respectively. He chaired Notre Dame’s Faculty Board on Athletics and served as the University’s NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative from 2000-2006.
Professor Dutile’s teaching and scholarship concentrate in two areas. He teaches criminal law to first- year students and has written extensively in that area. He also teaches and writes on the law of education. He served as faculty editor of the Journal of College & University Law, the hallmark publication of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) (1986-94), and has been a member of that publication’s editorial board since 1986. In 1994, NACUA honored his work by naming him a lifetime fellow of the association. Professor Dutile has served on countless University and Law School committees, including the Academic Council, of which he was a member for about a quarter- century. In 2001, the University’s Alumni Association conferred on him its Armstrong Award, bestowed annually on a graduate who has provided “outstanding” service as an employee. Professor Dutile has earned two Presidential Awards at Notre Dame (1982 and 2006). He also garnered the University’s Faculty Award in 2004. His Alma Mater, Assumption College, presented him with its Outstanding Achievement Award in 2007.