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Janklow: An opportunity for equal justice

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Another politician has stumbled over his own inflated ego. He is leaving Congress as a result.

FLANDREAU, South Dakota (AP) – Rep. Bill Janklow announced Monday he will resign from Congress after being convicted earlier in the day of manslaughter in a collision that killed a motorcyclist.

“I wish to inform you that because of present circumstances, I will be unable to perform the duties incumbent on me in representing the people of South Dakota as their U.S. representative,” Janklow wrote in a letter that he said was to be sent to House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Tuesday.

“Therefore I wish to inform you that I will resign from the House of Representatives, effective January 20, 2004.” It is the same date Janklow is scheduled to be sentenced for his manslaughter conviction.

Janklow was convicted Monday of manslaughter for a collision that killed a motorcyclist. The jury rejected the congressman’s claim that he was disoriented by a diabetic reaction.

Janklow, 64, was charged with reckless driving, running a stop sign, speeding and second-degree manslaughter for the August 16 crash at a rural intersection that killed motorcyclist Randy Scott, 55.

Janklow could face up to 10 years in prison.

The politician tried to blame the collision on a diabetic reaction that caused him to become disoriented at trial. However, he had told officers at the scene he was trying to avoid a car when the motorcyclist, expecting him to halt at a stop sign, collided with him. He also alluded to having a heart condition at trial, perhaps in a bid for sympathy. However, Janklow appears to be overly talkative. His testimony contradicted information he had given to emergency medical personnel after the collision.

Janklow testified tearfully about the crash Saturday. He said a tight schedule had kept him from eating, even though he knew the risk of taking his insulin and not eating.

“I just plain forgot,” he said. As for why, “I’ve asked myself that 10 million times since this day.”

[Prosecutor Roger] Ellyson contended Janklow didn’t suffer a diabetic reaction at the time of the accident.

Janklow told an emergency medical technician that he had eaten earlier in the day and told another EMT that he had checked his blood glucose level, Ellyson said.

“If you believe the incredible story that the defendant, a 240-pound man, didn’t eat for 18 hours, he’s still guilty,” he said.

That’s because that as a diabetic, Janklow should have made sure he didn’t let himself get low on blood sugar, Ellyson said. The state Supreme Court has ruled that in the case of a fatal auto accident, reckless behavior includes a driver’s “a conscious and unjustifiable disregard of a substantial risk.”

Testimony by the expert who reconstructed the collision was also damning for Janklow.

FLANDREAU, South Dakota (AP) — Rep. Bill Janklow was traveling 71 mph in a 55 mph zone when he ran a stop sign and drove into the path of a motorcyclist, a state trooper testified Wednesday at the congressman’s manslaughter trial.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Gene Barthel, an accident reconstructionist, used a large map to show jurors the location of roads, stop signs, Janklow’s Cadillac, the motorcycle and the body of its rider, Randy Scott.

He said he based his estimate of Janklow’s speed on a scientific formula that takes into account the vehicles’ weights, paths and positions.

Barthel said Scott was traveling at 59 mph and that neither driver took any evasive action. The east-west road Scott was on did not have stop signs.

The motorcycle hit the back of Janklow’s car and Scott’s body slammed into the car’s trunk before landing in a field, the officer testified. Janklow’s car spun around several times before stopping, he said.

Janklow, longtime governor of South Dakota, fancies himself a libertarian. He has long argued against firm speed limits and has compiled a stack of speeding tickets to confirm his opposition to traffic laws. Last year, he ran the same stop sign and crashed into a car. The victim did not press charges because he was still governor at the time.

So, we have a defendant who:

  • Caused a death.

  • Has a history of the illegal behavior that resulted in the death.

  • Lied on the witness stand.

  • Shows no remorse.

  • What will become of him? If Janklow were a regular guy, that question would be easy to answer. One could expect him to be sentenced at the high end of the maximum ten years allowed. But, he is not. He is white, reasonably wealthy, and one of the most influential people in his state. We will await Janklow’s sentencing and see if justice occurs.

    This entry also appeared at Silver Rights.

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    About The Diva

    • Hank Fitzdale

      South Dakota has a Justice-For-The-Criminal System well in place. It is working admirably, as witnessed in the obligatory slap-on-the-wrist for Bad Billy Janklow, ex-SoDak Governor and murderer. The judge admirably followed good-old-boy system guidelines giving murderer Janklow 100 days in jail, which was knocked down to 30 days in jail. He will perform public service, apparently using his mouth again, which he has used so well in the past to suck up to the public trough. Indeed, he has led a life of selfless public service. He raped an Indian girl years ago. And got off for that. He ran through countless traffic lights and signs, while the Justice-For-The-Criminal System turned their corrupt heads the other way.
      —————————
      What’s the answer to this corrupt system? I have it all figured out. We start with the last link in the current, corrupt Justice-For-The-Criminal System chain. Step #1: WE GET RID OF ALL THE JUDGES. Step #2: In their places, we install “Legal Administrators.” We can get these people off the street. There are lots of people without jobs, thanks to the greedy capitalistic system and greedier politicians, which it serves. This person would merely follow NEW JUDICIAL GUIDELINES, which would mean NO SENTENCING AUTHORITY WHATSOEVER. Step #3: ANY & ALL SENTENCING WOULD BE IN THE HANDS OF THE JURORS. Step #4: All trials would be started no later than seven days after arraignment. And no trial will last longer than seven days. This will clear the deck of all backlogged cases.
      ———————————
      And what of Bad Billy Janklow? He should have been turned over to the bereaved family of the man he murdered with his car. He should then be given a 100 feet head start. And let the family deal out their own justice, thus saving any appeals or further waste of government lodging and meals for this political murdering scumbag.

    • Eric Olsen

      His sentence would appear to be ridiculously light, I agree.

    • JR

      A guy who can talk his way into elected office can probably talk a jury into handing him a lighter sentence.

    • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

      The jury didn’t buy his act: they found him guilty of manslaughter.

      The judge let him off the hook in the sentencing phase.

    • JR

      True. I should have added “if he has to”. Maybe this guy couldn’t have charmed the jury in any case, but there are people who can. My point being that juries are likely to be just as prone to inconsistant and unjust sentencing as judges are. I have to say, I lean toward mandatory sentencing.

    • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

      It’s definitely cases like this that give arguments for mandatory minimums a lot of weight.

    • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

      Sigh. And some people say the criminal justice system in this country is fine just the way it is.

    • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

      I’ve done a follow-up entry here. It compares Janklow’s experience with the criminal justice system to that of a black boy sentenced to 10 years in prison for having sex with a white classmate in Georgia. (And no, I don’t mean 50, or even five, years ago.)

    • bigPete

      Janklow could become a democratic senator from Massachusetts. He meets all the requirements:

      Caused a death.

      Has a history of the illegal behavior that resulted in the death.

      Lied on the witness stand.

      Shows no remorse.