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Christopher Hignite

American justice in Black and White....North and South.
November 15th, 2010 12:33 am ET

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Racism may be more common in the Deep South but
the court system has remained unchanged in the
North and the South.

Lexington Kentucky and Vail Colorado are 1182.37
Equal Justice Under the Law? miles apart when talking about distance. Lexington
Photo: Diana Davies sits at 1000 ft above sea level while Vail runs
Slideshow: American justice between 8022 and an impressive 11570 ft above sea
in black and white....North level. On the map Lexington sits at Latitude 38.03 N
and South.
and Longitude 84.44 W with Vail appearing at
Latitude 39.64 N and Longitutde 106.39 W.

However, when the subject of racism in the criminal
justice system is discussed, elevation and latitude
make little, if any difference. It seems in the North
they're just more honest about it. Two similar criminal
cases, one in Lexington and one in Vail, demonstrate
this in BLACK and WHITE.

Here are the similarities:
Video: Lexington Mayor
says "a lot of lives don't
matter much"  Martin Joel Erzinger tragically ran over a cyclist
on July 3 in Vail Colorado with his Mercedes and
fled the scene of the accident.
 Glenn Rahan Doneghy tragically struck a police
officer in April in Lexington Kentucky with his
SUV and fled the scene of the accident.
 Erzinger was later arrested at his home address.
 Doneghy was later arrested at his home
 Erziner alledgedly veered from his course onto
Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry
the side of the road and hit Dr. Steven Milo.
announces that a lot of people live lives
 Doneghy alledgedly veered from his course and
that don't matter much. This was the struck Officer Bryan Durman near the side of the
day after the incident described in the
story. road.
 Erzinger's victim, Dr. Steven Milo suffered
Related articles extensive injuries. "Milo suffered spinal cord
 Operation Endgame comes to injuries, bleeding from his brain and damage to
Central Kentucky his knee and scapula, according to court
 Bob Schulz mischaracterized in documents," Randy Wyrick for Vail Daily
Time magazine article
reported. "Over the past six weeks he has
 Craigslist secrets exposed: suffered 'disabling' spinal headaches and faces
Prostitution in the dating ads
multiple surgeries for a herniated disc and
 Why do I agitate? Why do I ask the plastic surgery to fix the scars he suffered in the
uncomfortable questions?
accident." "He will have lifetime pain," Milo's
 Should a grandmother's home be
lawyer, Harold Haddon, wrote. "His ability to
taken over a positive test for
marijuana? deal with the physical challenges of his
 Bluegrass Conspiracy : Scratch a profession -- liver transplant surgery -- has been
child support case and solve murder seriously jeopardized."
(Part 3)
 Doneghy's victim, Officer Bryan Durman,
Popular articles tragically died from his injuries.

1. Pankaj Advani wins gold for India in This is where the stories go in opposite directions:
Asian Games 2010, Medal Tally

2. Leaders of violent Los Angeles-area  Erzinger oversees over $1 billion in assets for
gang indicted "ultra high net worth individuals, their families
3. “The Pee-Wee Herman Show” on and foundations," according to Worth. Erzinger
Broadway (Video Preview) is white.
4. Calicut University results 2010  Doneghy has a criminal history, mental health
history, drug abuse history and has a modest
5. U.S. silence on Kashmir emboldens income. Doneghy is black.
India's nationalists, empowers
Taliban  Martin Joel Erzinger will not be charged with a
felony because "Felony convictions have some
6. Ded result 2010 Karnataka on
official website of KSEEB pretty serious job implications for someone in
Mr. Erzinger's profession," according to District
Popular slideshows
Attorney Mark Hurlbert. Hurlbert explained that
1. Man buys Ansel Adams photos at charging Erzinger with a felony could affect his
garage sale for $45, worth $200
job and ability to pay restitution. "When you're
talking about restitution, you don't want to take
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away his ability to pay," the DA said.
3. In photos, Sept. 11, 2010 World  Doneghy has been charged with murder. The
Trade Center attack: America
Remembers indictment says that Doneghy "knew or should
have known that the accident resulted in the
4. Mallika Sherawat Starrer’ Hisss’ -
photo gallery death or serious injury of a person," but that he

5. Mark David Chapman up for parole
didn't stop to help. Defendants in cases like
Doneghy's usually are charged with one of three
6. Maruti Alto K10
offenses: reckless homicide, which carries a
Most commented articles sentence of one to five years; second-degree
manslaughter, five to 10 years; or wanton
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murder, 20 years to life.For charges of second-
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2. Pottery Barn lamp recall accused knows his actions could cause serious
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3. CIA Examiner has new
DECLASSIFIED SECRETS-2 risk. For a murder charge, the accused shows
FORUM "extreme indifference to human life."
4. The full-body backscatter backlash  The prosecutor in Vail is honest, at least, about
5. United Nations' anti-Christian, anti- the reasons why a rich Smith Barney fund
Judaism obsession manager is being handled with kid gloves.
6. Blood found in home of missing Hurlbert tells the Vail Daily that his "inartful
children and mother comments" did not convey his reasons for
charging Erzinger with misdemeanours instead
of a felony. Here is his edited answer.

Despite what is implied in the Vail Daily, Dr. Milo
never asked me to plea Mr. Erzinger to a felony. Dr.
Milo asked that I plead Mr. Erzinger to a felony
deferred judgment and sentence.

What this means is that Mr. Erzinger would plead to a
felony leaving the scene of an accident, and the
judgment would be set aside.

In either two or four years, as long as Mr. Erzinger
met certain conditions, the case would drop off his
record and he would be allowed to seal this case.
Since there was no alcohol or drugs involved, the
only conditions I could legally ask for were that he
pay restitution and stay out of trouble.

Given that he had a clean history, Mr. Erzinger would
essentially have been able to write a check, and the
case would then be dismissed. On top of that, while
Dr. Milo was still probably recovering from his
injuries, Mr. Erzinger would be able to say that he had
no criminal history and even deny that anything had
happened. That is not something I could stomach.

I therefore offered that Mr. Erzinger plead guilty to
leaving the scene of an accident and careless driving
causing serious bodily injury.

This means that for the rest of his life, Mr. Erzinger
will have on his record that he carelessly drove,
caused another human being serious bodily injury
and left the scene. He will lose his driver's license,
face potential jail time as determined by the judge
and still have to pay restitution, which as I said in the
Vail Daily is important to us but not an overriding
objective in the plea.

Obviously there is a benefit to Mr. Erzinger on taking
the misdemeanors -- he keeps his job.

 Doneghy's case was treated much differently.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that
Detective Richardson testified before the grand
jury and earlier at a preliminary hearing in
district court that a witness had said the only
vehicle traveling down the one-way street at the
time of the incident was the suspect vehicle, the
attorneys say.
The detective then said in both hearings that the
suspect vehicle deviated from its course of
travel and struck Durman as he stood next to the
vehicle he was investigating, the attorneys say
in the motion.

But the witness, Ronnie Hood, was sitting on his
porch, several doors down the street from where
Durman was struck, and he told Richardson that
the shrubs in front of his house blocked his view
of the street, the attorneys say. Hood did not
know anything had occurred until he heard a
loud noise, which was the collision, they say.

"And from Mr. Hood's own lips Detective
Richardson had knowledge during both times
that he testified that Mr. Hood did not see the
suspect vehicle traveling down Limestone,
deviating from its current course of travel and
striking Officer Durman," the motion says.

The motion says that had the grand jury not
been told that the suspect vehicle deviated from
its course and struck Durman, Doneghy might
not have been indicted for murder.

The motion also maintains that when Doneghy's
attorneys asked Assistant Commonwealth's
Attorney Lori Boling who the supposed witness
was who saw the incident, Boling replied that
there was no witness.

The defense attorneys maintain that false
testimony was presented to the grand jury "in
order to elevate the seriousness of what
occurred in the case against Glenn Doneghy."
 Hurlbert appears to be saying that he would
rather have Erzinger have a record forever
instead of a clean record after a couple of years.
He also says that he can't change it. "I made the
plea offer months ago, and the defense has
accepted. This means that even if I wanted to
change the plea offer, I could not." Erzinger is in
no danger of facing jail time and he will not lose
his job directly because of the charges against
him. District Attorney Mark Hurlbert is not
charging Martin Joel Erzinger with a felony,
because "Felony convictions have some pretty
serious job implications for someone in Mr.
Erzinger's profession," which is managing
billions for rich people.

 Attorneys for Glenn Doneghy, who is accused of
murder in the death of Lexington police Officer
Bryan Durman, have filed a motion seeking
dismissal of the indictment against their client,
claiming that a detective gave false testimony
before the grand jury that indicted Doneghy and
in a hearing on the case in Fayette District Court.
Attorneys Kate Dunn, Gayle Slaughter and Sally
Wasielewski, in the motion filed this week, also
say that prosecutors knew that the detective,
David Richardson, gave false testimony before
the grand jury. The attorneys accuse the Fayette
County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office of
prosecutorial misconduct.
At issue were these sentences Richardson
spoke in front of the grand jury and at a
preliminary hearing: "A witness advised the only
vehicle driving on the roadway at the time was
the suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle
deviated from its current course of travel and
struck Officer Durman as he stood next to the
vehicle he was investigating."

Doneghy's attorney, Kate Dunn, argued the
statement made it seem as if a witness had seen
Doneghy's vehicle veer off course and hit the
officer. However, the witness the detective was
referring to, Ronnie Hood, testified Friday that
he did not see the collision. He only heard it.

"The bushes in my yard were blocking my view,"
Hood said.
The detective argued that his statement that
Doneghy's vehicle "deviated from its current
course of travel" was not intended to tie in with
the witness statement before it. The latter
sentence was a "matter of fact" supported by
"evidence, common sense and simple math," he

During heated and lengthy cross-examination
that drew several objections from prosecutors,
Dunn questioned whether Richardson paused
long enough between the sentences to
differentiate the witness' statement from the
unattributed statement.

"If you were sitting on a grand jury and you
heard an officer testify to what you just heard,
would you assume there was a difference?"
Dunn said.

Judge James Ishmael overruled the motion after
hearing more than an hour of testimony and
cross examination, saying he found no evidence
of intentional abuse of the grand jury.

Ishmael conceded that "a reasonable person"
could have thought a witness supported
Richardson's second statement.

"But did Detective Richardson say that? No, he
didn't say that," he said.

This is as blatant a case of Clintonesque semantics
as I have ever seen! Yes, Judge Scorsone claims, the
detective's words could have been taken, and
probably were, in a way that could have confused and
influenced the decision of the grand jury. However,
since one could pause in different ways, use accents
differently and alter the inflection of one's voice and
change the meaning in different ways, the officer did
not lie.

Scorsone, it seems, has dodged the wrath of
Lexington's white population and increased his
chances at re-election. It's hard to fault Scorsone in
his position. The citizens have already voted, and
rightly so, to honor Officer Durman by naming the
street after him. I would imagine that the Judge
expects the system and the jury to make the proper
decision in the courtroom. The most disappointing
matter is the lack of charges against the officer and
the Assistant County Attorney.

Rich or poor, U.S. citizens are entitled to equal
justice. But promise and practice in U.S. law can
sometimes seem worlds apart.

It was not until 1956, Supreme Court Justice Arthur
Goldberg reminded New York University law students
last week, that the Supreme Court finally "made its
first broad pronouncement in the area of economic
equality in the criminal process."

^ Severe Disadvantages. The landmark Griffin v.
Illinois decision held that constitutional rights were
violated by a state law under which defendants had to
purchase a transcript of the trial be fore they could
appeal to a higher court.

"There can be no equal justice," said the court,
"where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the
amount of money he has." Since then, the court has
handed down several related rulings, notably the
Gideon decision affirming the right to court-appointed
counsel in all criminal cases if a defendant cannot
afford to hire a lawyer (TIME, Oct. 18).

Martin Erzinger and Glenn Doneghy committed the
same crime in almost identical situations. The
similarities, however, stop there. The prosecution in
Erzinger's case admittedly doesn't want to
disadvantage a rich, white fund manager and cause
him to lose his job. Erzinger will be charged with
misdemeanors. The prosecution in Doneghy's case
has ignored all laws, lied to the grand jury, lied to the
defense attorneys and intend to pursue beyond the
maximum legitimate charges against a poor, already
disadvantaged black man.

Thus is the state of racism in the American justice
system in black and white. It is no wonder blacks
outnumber their white counterparts 500% in our
prison system. has organized a petition titled "Don't Drop
Felony Charges Against Hit-and-Run Wealth

The petition reads:
Traffic laws exist to motivate all drivers to act in a
manner that is safe for other users of the road,
including pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers.
To those of us who rely on bicycles for
transportation and recreation, enforcement of
laws that ensure our safety on the road is vital.

The enforcement of traffic laws should not differ
depending on a driver's ability to write a check,
but rather on the ability of the law to motivate
drivers to drive safely. What Martin Joel Erzinger
is accused of doing is clearly criminal, but
dropping felony charges will set a message to
drivers that the penalties for neglecting the
welfare of others on the road, causing life-altering
injury, and showing no concern for the victim
might not be as serious as the law indicates.

While Martin Joel Erzinger would like to write a
few checks and move on with his life, we must
ensure that actions such as his are punished to
the full extent of the law. Please do not drop
felony charges against Martin Joel Erzinger.

I'd like to add to this petition. Please drop the
murder charges against Glenn Rahan Doneghy.

Remember this, if the proper charges are not filed,
the jury may dismiss the case altogether.

I'm asking that the entire black community and
anyone else who believes in Equal Justice Under
The Law to donate $5 to his legal fund. Contact
attorneys Dunn, Wasielewski and Gayle Slaughter
for information on how to donate.

Copyright ©Christopher Hignite 2010 All Rights
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