In praise of a good Judge

Jahvell Forrest

Jahvell Forrest

Jahvell Forrest was 20 years old when he shot Aurora, Colorado police Officer Ryan Burns in the leg during a November, 2014 traffic stop. He was held in the Adams County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond since his arrest a few days after the shooting.

As to why he fired a gun at two police officers who approached him at a traffic stop, he said he was “scared and had no choice.” There was never any evidence that the officers did anything to scare him, so what was he scared of? Well, at the time he had warrants outstanding from Arapahoe County, 16 in all, for burglary, indentity theft, and possession of a “financial device.” I suppose that would be stolen credit cards. If he was scared it must have been that he was scared of being arrested on those outstanding warrants. It would seem he had a better choice available but he chose to put two police officers at risk of serious injury or death in an attempt to escape arrest.  Well, he did escape arrest that day but was caught a few days later.

At his trial in latter January he was charged with attempted murder for shooting the officer. The jury convicted him of the lesser included offense of manslaughther. Now I’m really confused. Manslaughter means you killed someone. Officer Burns didn’t die, he mostly recovered from his wound. Except that nobody who takes a bullet in the leg ever has a normal leg again.

Anyway, there is no such thing as attempted manslaughter because manslaughter is not an intentional killing. It’s either a reckless or negligent act that causes a death. Attempted recklessness or negligence? No, that makes no sense. Good thing I was not on that jury, we’d still be deliberating, or the judge would have called a mistrial. He was guilty of attempted murder and should have been convicted of that.

Oh well, Adams County Judge Robet Kiesnoaski cleared it all up by giving Forrest the maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. He’s lucky the lesser included offense of aggravated assault wasn’t given to the jury as an alternative. A conviction for that, when a firearm is involved, carries a maximum of 50 years.

I wonder if his appeal lawyer will argue that he shouldn’rt have been convicted of manslaughter because manslaughter is not a lesser included offense of attemtped murder. A lesser included offense is one that contains all the elements of the large offense except one and doesn’t contain in different elements.  I don’t see how manslaughter qualifies because the elements of the offense are too different. I must be missing something. Or maybe the news reports I read got it wrong. That’s more likely.

Forrest still must face trial for his crime spree in Arapahoe County. Because any sentence in Arapahoe will be in a different court in a differnet case I don’t think he can be given a sentence for those crimes that will run consecutive to his sentence from Adams County, so any sentence he gets there will likely be concurrent. But at least those additional crimes will count against him when he becomes eligible for parole.

That long sentence is the first thing for which I want to praise Judge Kiesnowski. That sentence recognized that two police officers, men of honor, were gunned down as they attempted to serve and protect the citizens of Colorado. For that, a long prison sentence is appropriate and Judge Kiesnowski deserves praise for upholding that principle. Other judges may have been persuaded by the evidence of a bad childhood that is introduced in nearly every trial of a criminal these days.

But there’s more. The Judge also spoke from the bench when he said as a gun owner he was angry that Forrest’s actions could lead to law-abiding gun owners having their rights chipped away. Folks, that’s a good judge. This judge understands that it is we legal gun owners who abhor gun violence the most. We support law enforcement and we hate gun violence because while innocent people are victimized the most, we are also victimized by gun-control zealots who insanely believe that restricting the rights of peaceful people will someone reduce gun violence.

There’s a war on cops in this country. It is being fueled by a few politicians and race hustlers who gain politcal advantage, at least so they think, by giving excuses to criminals for their behavior. It has to stop and Judge Kiesnowski has taken a necessary step to help end it.

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