Friday, June 04, 2010

Wilkerson's Justice Crawl

Alas for the lovers of drama and those who attended civics classes, the Dianne Wilkerson case doesn't satisfy. Accustomed as we are to novels and movie and TV scripts, we hear that justice is supposed to be swift and sure. A peek into her world show the more typical white-collar version.

The former MA state senator had already been a low-level felon. She had not bothered paying taxes and she didn't seem to think her probation rules were worth following. However, yesterday she finally did what I and others had predicted long ago, pleaded guilty to soliciting and taking bribes.

The attitude of the local dailies' editorial boards varied. The Herald scolded her, although thinking it might shame her is absurd as she doesn't seem to have that gene. The Globe wanted more and more flesh, hers and Chuck Turner's.

I did get a chuckle seeing that the tabloid used a line I had heard before...from a Wilkerson friend and supporter. "Wilkerson was her own worst enemy," wrote the Herald's board. On a BNN segment where I spoke in favor of senate candidate Sonya Chang-Diaz, Joyce Ferriabough used the same line about Wilkerson. Her implication was that her friend was fine, except for disastrous lack of attention to details big and small.

The Globe on the other hand wanted prolonged public humiliation in the form of a trial. They couched that in terms of such a display revealing other corruption and the licensing process, which surely does need reform.

Of course, what this whole process already reveals is how white-collar justice, or lack of it works. We Americans dearly cling to the concepts related to swift and sure justice. We immediately say innocent until proven guilty when someone is charged and likely add that everyone deserves that day in court.

The Globe board seems to overlook another part of that — while people have the right to trial (set aside Gitmo), they also have the right to bypass trial with plea bargains and guilty pleas. Unlike a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing, they aren't testifying for a career reward and aren't compelled to undergo grilling.

This blog has had numerous comments on Wilkerson and these charges. Maybe the last will be when the judge sentences her in September. Then, we can expect a maximum of what the prosecutor recommends for the eight guilty pleas, four years in prison. That will probably end up being less than half that served. Then, even though her worst enemy has ruined her political career, she performed worthy deeds also and she'll find ways to earn a living.

We can leave it to others to lament how she destroyed the self she had built. It's shades of Terry Malloy in On the WaterfrontI coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am...

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1 comment:

Daniel said...

I'll bring her up again when DiMasi gets probation. But other than that, I'm pretty much done with her as well.