Saturday, January 07, 2006

McGraw, Starcher, Albright Make VT Judge Who Gave Child Rapist 60 Days in Jail Look Tough

Vermont Judge Edward CashmanMany of you may have heard of Vermont Judge Edward Cashman, who sentenced a serial child rapist to only 60 days in jail and claimed to "no longer believe in punishment." This sentence was imposed in the case of Mark Hulett, who admitted to repeatedly raping a young girl over a 4-year period beginning when she was 7 years old.

Burlington, Vermont TV station WCAX reported:

Vermont Judge Edward Cashman is coming under fire for handing out a light sentence to a child rapist.

The judge says did it because he no longer believes in punishment and he wants to speed the rapist's entry into a rehabilitation program.

Judge Cashman's short sentence for an admitted child molester triggered immediate public and political reaction with some lawmakers saying he should leave the bench.

Judge Edward Cashman's light sentence was the talk of the town. Wednesday he sentenced child rapist Mark Hulett to 60 days in jail. Hulett admitted he raped a little girl countless times when she was between 7 and 10 years old.

Prosecutors said Hulett deserved at least 8 years in prison in part as punishment.

But Judge Cashman said the 60-day sentence guaranteed that Hulett would get into sex offender rehabilitation quickly or face a possible life sentence. He said he had no choice because the Corrections Department classified Hulett as a low risk offender meaning he can't get treatment until he's out of jail.

And more importantly the judge announced that after 25 years on the bench, he no longer believes in punishment.

Any sane person will agree this sentence was outrageous. Prosecutors in this case had requested an 8-20 year sentence. Florida's Jessica Lunsford Act--which is being adopted in a growing number of states--provides a 25 year mandatory minimum sentence for any person 18 years of age or older who engages in any sexual act with a child younger than 12.

While Judge Cashman is the most recent example of judicial leniency toward child molesters, two justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and one of their former colleagues take the cake. In 2004, Justices Larry "Let 'em Loose Larry" Starcher, Joe Albright, and former Justice Warren McGraw (who was defeated in the 2004 election, see below) issued a decision that would make Judge Cashman look tough by comparison.

Former Justice Warren McGraw, DEFEATEDDEFEATED Justice Warren McGraw having his infamous Labor Day Meltdown (audio of speech & resulting political ads still available--makes the Dean Scream seem sedate)

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Larry 'Let 'em Loose Larry' StarcherWest Virginia Supreme Court Justice Joe Albright
Justices Larry Starcher & Joe Albright

Tony Dean Arbaugh is a serial child molester from Pendleton County who admitted to sexually assaulting several young children, mostly family members. The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled 3-2 in March 2004 that Arbaugh, who was placed on probation as part of a plea agreement for his crimes, violated just about every condition of the agreement--from not meeting with his probation officer to doing drugs to contacting his victims--and did not deserve to be sent to prison for violating probation and the terms of his plea agreement. That Arbaugh got this kind of leniency from the prosecutors initially was bad enough (though mitigated by Arbaugh himself being a minor); however, the WV Supreme Court then ignoring the probation law's provision providing for revoking probation and requiring the defendant to be sentenced to the original prison sentence in lieu of which probation was originally imposes was outrageous. Even more outrageous was that Arbaugh was placed in a youthful offender rehabilitation program that would have eventually had him employed as a janitor in a school until the school discovered his background.

Fortunately, the voters of West Virginia had an opportunity in the 2004 general election to pass judgment on one of the three justices that ruled in Arbaugh's favor. Justice Warren McGraw--who was already targeted for defeat by a wide variety of business interests for his role in making this state a judicial hellhole--dug his own political grave with the Arbaugh case and sealed his defeat with his infamous Labor Day Meltdown, which became the focus of a pair of the most memorable radio political ads in state history (only the WVGOP ad remains online).

Also see my prior posts, "Starcher Says Judges Are Policymakers" and "West Virginia Sex Offender Laws So-So, Improvements Needed."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Goodness, gracious! It's a Great Night to be a Mountaineer Wherever You May Be

WVU Mountaineers: 2006 Nokia Sugar Bowl Champions!

WVU 38
UGA 35