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Justice delayed, but not denied

We have a rather unusual legal case going on here in New Hampshire. It's the case of Sonny Harris, a convicted drug dealer, and his ongoing struggle with our legal system.

Back in the early 90's, Sonny was busted for dealing some hard drugs. Some people even died from his products. He went to prison for ten years, and was released on parole. But according to his parole officer, Sonny was hardly a good parolee.

Sonny was repeatedly seen hanging around with other convicted felons, frequenting places he shouldn't have been, and overheard trying to put his drug operation back together. He blew off meetings with his parole officer, often not even bothering to make up an excuse. He always managed to talk his way out of getting sent back to prison, though.

Finally, an informant told police that Sonny had a good-sized stash of drugs in his home. The cops showed up, and Sonny refused to let them in without a warrant. They didn't need one, since he was on parole, so they broke in, arrested Sonny, and searched his house anyway.

They didn't find a big stash of drugs -- it turned out Sonny was all talk, no action. But they did find, tucked away in a hidden spot under some floorboards, some drugs from before his first arrest. Sonny insisted he'd forgotten about them, and even accused the cops of planting the drugs, but he still went back to jail, and is going to be tried for possession on that old stash.

I kinda feel a smidgen of sympathy for Sonny; it's pretty obvious, now, that he wasn't getting his drug operation back together. It was all just talk, trying to make himself seem like he was still a big man. But the facts are simple: he did have the drugs in his house, they were his, and he did refuse the cops entry and had to be forcibly subdued when they showed up. And the cops did act in good faith; the tip they got (from a normally-reliable informant), combined with Sonny's own actions before and during the search, all screamed "guilty" to them.

But the fact remains: Sonny was on parole, and therefore had no legal presumption of innocence. The burden was on him to cooperate with the authorities, to demonstrate that he was worthy of the trust in being placed on parole. He repeatedly told people he was going to get back in business, better than ever. He was renewing his contacts with the people in the drug trade. And he had repeatedly violated the terms of his probation without consequences.

Prosecutors say they've had enough of Sonny, and intend to use the "three strikes" law on him and send him away for life. His attorney says it's nuts, because the drugs found were old and hardly proof that he was planning on returning to crime.

Sorry, Sonny. You shoulda thought of that before and either turned in or flushed the drugs in the first place. Or not mouthed off so much about how you were gonna be a big man again. Or maybe not been such a jerk when the cops showed up to search your house. You had dozens of chances to go straight, and you chose to ignore them all.

My only regret is how much you cost the state putting you where you belong.

(For some of the most recent developments in Sonny's case, read this excellent piece.)

Comments (11)

Hey, wait...Is thi... (Below threshold)

Hey, wait...

Is this an allegory about Saddam?

Dang, docjim, I thought I w... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Dang, docjim, I thought I was being a little too obvious, with the initials and the link... guess I was too subtle.


Jay: Well done! I hope Lee ... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

Jay: Well done! I hope Lee and the other trolls enjoy it as much as I did.

Oh man, I was completely ob... (Below threshold)

Oh man, I was completely oblivious that this was a parable.

I was going to say this: since there seems to be some dispute, hold off on implementing the 3 strikes proviso. If Sonny acts true to form, he'll eventually screw up again, in circumstances that are less ambiguous, and that's when you throw the book at him.

But of course, now that I've embarassed myself, I'm no longer going to say this.

Have you ever tried to snor... (Below threshold)

Have you ever tried to snort 18 year old cocaine?

It doesn't get you high because the chemicals have broken down.

There's no way that stash under the floorboards would have indiciated positive for drugs.

But you know, I don't feel bad for Sonny.

I feel bad for the 10,000s of thousands of people killed by the cops. I feel bad for the cops themselves, 2,500 of whom have died. I feel bad that this is exactly what the new drug lord, Sam Binliddie, wants, because every hour we spend wasting time with Sonny Harris is an hour we don't focus on him. I feel bad that things in Sonny's old town are getting worse and worse and worse and the Chief of Police keeps saying they are getting better and better and better.

from a former cop(US Marine)

from a former cop(US Mar... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

from a former cop(US Marine)

Talk is cheap, on the internets. If you did actually serve in either capacity, thank you for your service, but considering your complete lack of ability in understanding how to succeed at either, I'll also thank you for being "former."

Here in California, we have... (Below threshold)
Scott in CA:

Here in California, we have a three strikes law. The lefties are always trying to repeal or change it, as they complain that "non violent" felons are being sent to prison for "non violent" crimes such as property theft, car theft, burglary, etc that are not worth sending somone to prison for 25-to-life. Well, sorry, but the point of three strikes was two things: 1. to remove chronic criminals from out society, and 2. to punish THE BEHAVIOR of criminals. Some two-strike felon who steals a golf club gets sent up on a third strike. The liberal wail that it's a "non violent" crime. So what! It is THE CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR that we will no longer tolerate. It doesn't matter WHAT he took, it's that he TOOK it. Just the other day, in my own city, some guy was busted at Target for shoplifting. When the cops grabbed him a block away, he still had his parole papers in his pocket from his release a week before. It's his third strike. He won't see parole again. This is what we voted for and this is what we want enforced.

I loff at you liberal whine... (Below threshold)

I loff at you liberal whiners who defend your dopey anti-war crapola with the "Oh Yeah? I'm ex-military...MAN!!" Or "I'm in the Air Force...MAN!!". Like we civilians are somehow supposed to cowtow to your opinions.

Well you know what...MAN??

Your opinions still stink!!!

Moseby,If your poi... (Below threshold)


If your point had contained one _shred_ of argument, rather than simply ad hominem, I'd have been forced to respect it.

I apologize, though, to you and the others, for having mentioned it.

That still doesn't change the idea that killing 10s of thousands of innocent people to punish one drug dealer with 18 year old cocaine under his floorboards is idiotic.

You know, John Irving, ther... (Below threshold)

You know, John Irving, there are plenty of examples of both kinds of service (military and police) where "former" individuals were quite successful. It's called retirement.

If some of the people over ... (Below threshold)

If some of the people over here are of the impression that this case has some bearings with the Iraqi Dictator,some attention needs to be focussed on the informer who gave the wrong information;who is he?






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