Jail Time for Tire Slashers
A Milwaukee County judge today ordered jail time for the four defendants in the 2004 Election Day tire slashing case, rejecting a recommendation from prosecutors for probation.Of course, in a case like this the race card gets played.
Judge Michael Brennan said the four committed acts of voter suppression and civil rights violations. He wanted the case to be a “public example of what could happen if you interfere with voters’ rights.”
“Voter suppression just has no place in our country,” Brennan said. “Your crime cuts to the core of how we define ourselves as citizens.”
The four defendants -- Sowande Omokunde, son of Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore; Michael Pratt, son of former Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt; Lewis Caldwell; and Lavelle Mohammad, all of Milwaukee -- each received a $1,000 fine and jail terms ranging from four months to six months. The defendants were also ordered to pay just more than $5,300 in restitution, which was part of their plea agreement. They will be eligible for work release.
The judge asked the defendants how they would react if Republicans committed similar acts.
“What type of outcry would there be?” Brennan asked. “Some of you might be out there protesting.”
After the sentencing, Marvin Pratt criticized the decision and referred to the Frank Jude case.Of course, that logic would suggest that any crime less severe than the beating of Frank Jude should not get jail time. Indeed, the fact that people sometimes get off after committing murder (O.J. Simpson comes to mind) might suggest that the cops who beat up Jude should get off. At least, the demented logic of Pratt would suggest that.
“It’s funny how in the city of Milwaukee how you can beat a man half to death and you are exonerated, and you have men that committed a property crime at worst and they get jail time,” he said.
Actually, the tire slashing case and the Jude case have one key similarity: a rather feckless District Attorney who wanted the tire slashers to go free, and who also was not sufficiently shrewd and aggressive to convict the guys who beat Jude.
Happily, in one of those cases, the judge intervened to do justice. It’s impossible, under our system, for a judge to overturn a “not guilty” verdict.