The Delay Poplawski Trial…Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
It's generally conceded that the justice system in the United States has much to commend it. It certainly is head and shoulders above most other countries around the world.
This is not to say that our justice system does not have blemishes and has to be monitored. Some of the faults lie with the structure of the Justice system itself.
A good case in point is the example of Richard Poplawski who, on April 4, 2009, murdered three Pittsburgh policemen – Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle, and Paul Sciullo – in cold blood and without provocation. They were responding to his mother’s domestic dispute. Poplawski was laying in wait and killed the three officers.
The facts are well established. No one, including Poplawski, disputes what happened. The question is not whether he did it. The question is…when will he be tried for these three murders? If he is found guilty, Poplawski faces the death penalty.
This is where the justice system breaks down. As far as we have learned, the trial has been postponed until April, 2011. The question is – why?
One of the country’s leading criminologists testified that it typically takes six months to a year to assemble a background of a defendant, identify any mental illness that may prevail, and hire the right mental health experts.
In Poplawski’s case, the defense is building a case on the basis of mental illness. Another complication is that rapport between Poplawski and one of his court appointed attorneys has broken down.
As this saga unfolds, it’s increasingly apparent that the justice system is bogged down. Does it make any sense to let this trial drag on for almost a year before it is scheduled to get underway?
Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning, who is critical of the delay said: “Anybody who can’t prepare this case in six months shouldn’t have a law degree.”
Meanwhile, another breakdown in the justice system centers on appeals of convictions. The records show that there are many cases where a defendant has been found guilty, but through a series of appeals, avoids the sentence for years. It’s another example of a convicted person milking the justice system.
In the case of Poplawski, our hearts go out to the families of the three policemen who were murdered in cold blood; grieving while Poplawski and his attorneys play with the delaying tactics.
How tragically sad!
Robert W. Dickey
Broadcast: July 16, 17,18, 2010
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