Even Hippies Don't Deserve This

Arthur Magazine columnist Dave Reeves has been sentenced to 23 days in jail for a traffic accident that caused only $200 of damage. Reeves, on a motorcycle, collided with an SUV:

"Damage to guy’s SUV is a pencil mark-sized scratch on front of SUV guy’s mirror, obviously caused by the SUV’s forward motion against Dave’s motorcycle. $200 in “repair.” Jury can’t believe this is a trial. Reeves admits he didn’t call Burbank PD. Jury has to convict, given judge’s instructions. Judge Kirkland Nyby gives max sentence. Reeves gets 30 days of community service which is 240 hours of picking up trash and abating graf. Reeves did 7 days by the deadline to complete the service. Nyby has now sentenced Dave Reeves to jail for the remainder of his sentence."

This provides another case in the long list of examples that illustrate why jury nullification is so important. Who in their right mind would sentence someone to 240 hours of indentured servitude or incarceration for $200 worth of damage? And how much time and money were spent in handing down this verdict? The other party in this case is a villain straight from Aurthur Magazine Central Casting (an evil SUV driver talking on a cell phone), so who knows if Reeves is or isn't at fault for the accident. However, the stiffest penalty Reeves should be handed is payment of the SUV driver's auto repair and legal fees.

"Last we checked he had been moved to the MEN’S CENTRAL JAIL at 441 BAUCHET STREET, which, according to the LACSD website, 'currently houses the majority of Los Angeles County’s high risk, high security inmates, and ranks as the largest jail in the free world. The average housing cost per inmate is $53.45 per day.'"

So the taxpayers of California are out $1229.35 because the everyday people that made up the jury were intimidated by the state into ignoring both their common sense and moral compass? I've read some horror stories, via Vin Suprynowicz, about what has happened to jurors that stood up to judges. Is it worth risking time and money and possible jail time yourself to keep someone else out of jail for 30 days (and you might not be successful even if you try)?

The idea that something is immoral simply because the state forbids it ("but these immigrants are here ILLEGALLY!") is nonsense, and since it is clear those the state has tasked with administering justice (Judge Nyby in this case) are incompetent, it's certainly time juries of our peers got to weigh in on the validity of sentences handed out.

Proceeds from purchases at Defend Brooklyn will help cover Reeves' legal fees, although I'm not familiar with the site and there is no About page so I have no idea what they stand for. In any case, here's hoping that Reeves comes through this okay and time moves quickly for him.

Update: Someone else also wondered what the Defend Brooklyn shirts were all about. Turns out they are a reference to a movie Reeves wrote and were originally made to help pay for post-production on that movie, so if you feel okay about defending Brooklyn with a communist rifle, purchase away.

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Hit and run

His reaction to the action was most unwise. He turned it into a hit and run accident, and the everyone knows that the law comes down especially hard on hit-and-runs. His failure to perform the community service was also most unwise. Doubtless it is an injustice, but I suffer a major injustice every year on, and that does not stop me from doing what I need to do to keep the government from noticing me. Yeah, he's evidently a victim of the government, but it was in his power not to be. From here:

The other driver was an SUV on his cel phone who inadvertently hit Reeves (who was driving a weak motorcycle) and knocked him over; the driver then swore and gestured aggressively at Dave. Dave got up and drove away with crazy SUV guy charging/yelling after him, trying to run him over. Finally Dave loses him. Dave doesn't call it in because there's no damage to his bike, he was the one who was hit, there were no witnesses, and he didn't have license plate, year or make of the other driver.

The account is colored by pro-Dave partisanship, but the facts it reveals look very bad for Dave. An alternative account could easily be created that alters the unprovable elements:

"Dave hit the SUV, then decided that he didn't want to stick around because his insurance was expensive enough as it was already, so he got the hell out of there. The other driver, incensed that that Dave was trying to evade responsibility, chased after him long enough to write down his plate number and then contacted the police, informing them of the hit-and-run."

But it gets worse:

Reeves gets 30 days of community service which is 240 hours of picking up trash and abating graf. Reeves did 7 days by the deadline to complete the service. The judge has now sentenced him to jail for the remainder of his sentence.

So he had the choice of doing community service and he chose, instead, to go to jail. That really was his choice. What did he think was going to happen if he failed to complete the community service by the deadline?

This entry follows a pattern I've seen in the past: key elements are omitted from the story, elements which would make the hero of the story look bad. This pattern is so common that I have learned to research these advocacy-pieces before replying. The key element is that he fled the scene of the collision.

If we assume that he did not flee the scene of an accident do avoid the law, then it is fundamentally unjust that he is in jail, but the outrageousness is somewhat diminished by the fact that, twice, it was within his power to cause things to end well by doing something that many, and I think most, people would do if they were in his shoes. He needn't have fled the accident, and he could have completed his community service by the deadline. His failure to do these things brings him close to the level of the Darwin Awards contestants.

Fleeing is very serious if you are at fault, because it makes it hard to catch you. And since it is hard to catch you, the sentence must be much harsher, to compensate for the improbability of finding you.

I'm with you on the hit and

I'm with you on the hit and run part, it's just the quote about the jury not being on the same page as the judge but being instructed that they may only think about the letter of the law when forming a verdict that drew me to the story--guilt or innocence as state dictated legal checklist.

Sure, jury nullification yea

By the way, I checked the link and didn't find enlightenment on what has happened to jurors that stood up to judges. Could you give details? Maybe I'm just not seeing something on the page.

update: I checked again. It seems to be hidden at the back of a rhetorical question:

Now,
how much do you suppose we would be safe in wagering that said judge
in this case lied to those jurors, telling them they had no right
or power to throw out the case if they felt the law or its enforcement
was absurd and unconstitutional – and that the judge further refused
to seat any juror who declined to perjure himself of his verdict
in advance by swearing to "enforce the law as given to you
by the court"?

That's all I found, so far.

 

Community service

Reeves gets 30 days of community service which is 240 hours of picking
up trash and abating graf. Reeves did 7 days by the deadline to
complete the service. The judge has now sentenced him to jail for the
remainder of his sentence.

I can't grasp why he didn't do the 30 days.... wouldn't the opportunity cost of doing this for a hippie be essentialy 0 anyway ?

Not the best link. I'm

Not the best link. I'm thinking back to Suprynowicz's book. I'm trapped at work right now as the weekend manager called in sick and I was dumb enough to answer the phone when the caller ID read "unavailable".

yah. i am pretty puzzled by

yah. i am pretty puzzled by this post as well. what did he expect after hit and running, and disobeying a legal and in my opinion moral court order?

yah. i am pretty puzzled by

yah. i am pretty puzzled by this post as well. what did he expect after hit and running, and disobeying a legal and in my opinion moral court order?

I, too, am puzzled. Please.

I, too, am puzzled. Please. Help me put the pieces together here, folks.

dave reeves is not a hippy

just because i work around a bunch of hippies doesnt mean I am one. I am a full on gun and card carrying member of the NRA and just having gotten back from Hanoi Hilton vietnam i will most likely vote mccain even though he isnt black.
I would like to ask the people who think i have thirty days to work for the state of california from seven in the morning till five at night with a bunch of drunk drivers for soemthing i didnt do: where i would get the time to do this. and assuming I had the time where would my money come from to pay my rent, eat and get to the worksite? keep in mind that i had four months to do the thirty days in and the system was stacked as they had taken my liscence and if you were later than the next man they could only take so many workers for the day. so i went to the road crew for fifteen days and was only allowed to work ten. At which point you realize that it was a jail sentence from the beginning. and jail is nothing but a race riot. Youll see.
citizen hear me out! this could happen to you!