Friday, March 26, 2010

Arenas a big shot on court, and in it

The only person who needs 30 days in a halfway house is the D.C. Superior Court judge who handed Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas that same amercement.

It's hard to tell which is the bigger crime – the one Arenas committed, or the travesty that is his punishment for it.

I've already seen arguments about how it's unfair because of what happened to New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress on different, yet similar charges. I'm going to leave that out altogether. This sentence has nothing to do with anyone else, and everything to do with injustice.

For the record, I like Gilbert Arenas. He's not my favorite player, but he's other-wordly talented, and his care-free personality can be both entertaining and comforting in a medium where people often take themselves way too seriously. He's candid and interesting, but in this case, stupid.

My view has nothing to do with who committed the crime. It's the crime itself that is deserving of punishment – real punishment, not the adult equivalent of being put in time out.

This guy brought not one, but several guns … to an arena … in Washington, D.C.! D.C. prides itself on strict gun laws, and in the world we live in, it should. Add to that that this crime occurred in a place where tens of thousands of people can gather on any given night, and the issue is compounded tenfold.

Arenas' attorney, Kenneth Wainstein, cited financial consequences as a reason for a lesser sentence, part of a 221-page document.

I'm not a legal analyst, lawyer or even law student. I haven't heard the rationale for the Judge Robert E. Morin's sentence.

It doesn't matter.

Nowhere in the law does it suggest that any amount of income has anything to do with punishment for a crime, or that losses of income has anything to do with sentencing. If it did, it would allow identical crimes to be punished differently, depending on how many zeros are in a person's paycheck.

But that's exactly what the judge decided in this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh's recommendation - three months in jail followed by three years probation and 300 hours community service - fell on deaf ears, and that's too bad because it made a lot more sense:

“... such a sentence essentially would tell the community that you can commit a serious offense, with a criminal history, and joke about it later. With enough money, fame and the right representation, you can avoid paying the price that others in this city would certainly pay in these circumstances. Such a message undermines the bedrock belief that the sentences of criminal defendants are handed out equally, and it is the wrong message to send to the city of Washington, D.C., particularly those members of the community that have idolized Gilbert Arenas in the past, and who may sympathize with him in the present.”

I don't know. Maybe it's just be. I'll leave it up to you.

So, to quote Arenas: “Pick 1.”