Justice Denied

The Washington Post is fast becoming a favorite newspaper of mine.

While my hometown rag is doing a profile on Nathaniel Greene, a series I’ve enjoyed, this series titled “Being a Black Man” that is currently running in the Post. The first story I’ve read titled “The Wrong Man” is about Elias Fishburne, a man who was chewed up and spit out by the justice system. Except he wasn’t the right man. My anger is seething.

This resonates with me for a few reasons. First is that I have experience in the law enforcement field, in the prosecutorial side to be specific. Second is that the love of my life is a black man and I would be using my knowledge of the criminal system with a vengeance were something similar to happen to him. Oh I’d use every connection, every trick. But here’s the thing, in RI there are what’s called Live Scan machines in the courts, police departments, etc. The first thing that happens when you’re arrested is your prints are run through that system.

The prints go through the Interstate Identification Index and if prior contact with law enforcement has been had by the subject, an email containing identity and other info is returned to the originating agency. I know this system well, I set it up.

But RI also has this little problem with black men being several times more likely to be stopped and searched, even though more contraband is found in the vehicles of white drives than those of black or Latino drivers. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Anyhow, getting back to the story. I find police malfeasance and negligence to be the height of what I consider disgusting. Are cops so dumb that if their NCIC terminal is down, they can’t call another PD and ask them to run it? I’m almost of the mind to setup a fund for him to file suit against all six law enforcement entities that Fishburne had contact with, because they all deserve to be ripped a new one over their assumptions.

2 thoughts on “Justice Denied

  1. I agree with you. I hope someone does set up a fund to sew all the law enforcement entities that violated this man’s rights. Perhaps if they lose enough litigation they will stop these atrocities.

  2. I am a disappointed by the tone and innuendos of the reference made to Pre-Paid Legal in the article, if in fact it is the Pre-Paid Legal Services of Ada, OK. I suspect many of your readers would make the same assumption and further conclude that Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc provider attorneys didn’t provide the level of service promised to their members. As a Pre-Paid legal member myself and an active associate, I would like to offer an alternative view of the role of Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc, and the provider attorney firm.

    First, instead of calling the best friend to assist at the scene of the incident, Elias should have called his Provider Law firm immediately. Only he knows why he didn’t do so. Pre-Paid Legal members have 24/7 – 365 day access to the provider law firm for this type of emergency. Members are issued cards to present to the arresting officer indicating that they have an attorney and would like to contact them. In this country we have the “right to an attorney” not the right to call a best friend. Had Elias called his provider law firm immediately instead of calling his best friend perhaps some thing could have been done initially. Secondly, the Pre-Paid legal membership clearly defines and indicates that a retainer may be required in certain instances. This article insinuates that is not the case and that all legal services are “prepaid”. All of the company literature and the membership contract clearly states what services are covered for the “pre-paid” membership fee and what the exclusions are. The fact that a retainer was required should not have been a surprise to Elias and if the reporter had done some minor investigation on the benefits of the Pre-Paid Legal membership, she would not have been surprised either and would not have used the “supposedly prepaid” remark in her report. That statement was biased, uninformed and unprofessional.

    Finally, what would have been Elias’s recourse had he not been a Pre-Paid Legal member? He still would have had to pay some attorney somewhere a retainer. Would it have been more or less than the retainer required by the Pre-Paid Legal provider attorney? The article, by publishing the retainer amount without disclosing the costs Elias incurred or comparing it to what he might have paid elsewhere, does the reader a disservice. It reads as if the attorney firm added insult to injury by asking for a retainer when that is the furthest from the truth. If a drug dealer without a Pre-Paid Legal membership was arrested, detained and extradited, needed an attorney, how much would that retainer have been? I would dare say probably a lot more than $2500. It seems to me that the writer had a dual agenda; the first to point out the incomprehensible inadequacies of the legal and justice system, and second to disparage the one company that has been working for over 33 years to do something about it.

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