Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rodricks On DWI Sentencing

Sun columnist Dan Rodricks compares the sentences of two recent DWI-related cases:

Friday, for instance, 26-year-old Matthew Miller pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court to one count of manslaughter by vehicle in the death of Kevin M. Ryan, the 18-year-old Towson University freshman who was struck last October by Miller's vehicle while walking on Hillen Road and thrown into the path of another car on Goucher Boulevard. Miller fled the scene, hid his car in an alley and called police to say his car had been stolen.

Judge Robert N. Dugan sentenced Miller to 18 months in the county detention center. Dugan said he "could not in good conscience" send Miller to the state penitentiary, which he described as a "hellhole."

Now, wasn't that considerate of the judge?

Compare Dugan's treatment of Miller with Howard County Circuit Court Judge Louis Becker's treatment in late May of an illegal immigrant from Mexico.

Another terrible tragedy -- a driver drunk beyond drunk slams his car into another, killing a Marine corporal and his date. The parents of Cpl. Brian Mathews were upset with the 10-year prison sentence imposed by Becker on the 27-year-old Mexican who killed their son. The corporal's dad told reporters that the sentence was not sufficient. The corporal's mother said her son "fought for the system and it failed him." But how does the sentence compare with those in other cases in Maryland, particularly those where the defendant's citizenship is not a factor, as it obviously was in this one?

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