“Equal justice under law”, which is written over the entrance to the Supreme Court building, means that all will be held accountable to the same law, it doesn’t mean that all will receive the same sentence. It has never been that way and should never be that way.
The words “Equal justice under law” were used yesterday by Kwame Kilpatrick’s New York City-based spokesperson Mike Paul. He didn’t think that the former mayor received a fair sentence yesterday in a Detroit court for violating his probation.
Kilpatrick, who admitted to lying under oath to a grand jury and other charges, spent 120 days in jail before being released on probation. He still had to make restitution to the City of Detroit of a $1,000,000. Then, Kilpatrick moved to Dallas, Texas and lived a very comfortable life style to say the least. For a few months he kept up with his restitution payments but then began to default. After a long legal battle, Judge David Groner sentenced Kilpatrick to one and a half to five years in prison. After the sentencing, Paul said that the Ex-Mayor was, “Clearly not treated equal to all citizens under the law. As a result, treating him differently is unconstitutional.”
Kilpatrick was held accountable to the same law as everyone else. This wasn’t any special law that was created just for his case. He even admitted to the crime and accepted a punishment that saved him from jail time other than the 120 days.
The Judge Groner may have indeed sentenced him to more time than the average for violating his parole, but judges have wide discretion on most cases, as it should be. As a community, we would like everyone to be held accountable to the same law. But, if there are circumstances that lead a judge to believe that they are not fully responsible or the accused has fully accepted his responsibility, then sentencing should be lighter. On the other side, if the judge believes a stronger punishment is due, then it should be done.
A politician that violates the trust placed in him by the voters should be held accountable to a higher standard. As an example to other people in the same position, harsher treatment of Kilpatrick was justified.