Late last year, Shaun Goodman was arrested for leading police on a drunken high-speed chase through Olympia, Washington; during which he crashed into a parked car and a house. Last week, he pleaded guilty to DUI--his sixth DUI conviction. Yet despite all that, he only got one year's work release. Why? His business needed him.
Goodman’s arrest in December was his seventh DUI arrest — although two had been pleaded down to negligent driving convictions, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Schaller said in court this month.Back on December 29, Goodman met Henry Griffin at an Olympia bar and offered him a ride in his silver Ferrari. Along the way, an officer tried to pull Goodman over for speeding, but Goodman kept going. The chase reached speeds of over 100 mph as it went through downtown Olympia. When it briefly slowed down, Griffin bailed out. Goodman crashed into a parked car and a house in a residential area before his car finally died in a church parking lot. He had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16, double the legal limit.
Schaller’s sentence of one year of work release for Goodman was in accordance with an agreed recommendation by Prosecutor James Powers and Goodman’s attorney, Paul Strophy.
During Goodman’s sentencing this month, Strophy noted in court that his client owns a business and employs individuals who rely on him to show up for work in order to make sure the business runs smoothly.
On Goodman’s work release, he can work during the day, but must return at night to sleep at the Thurston County Jail.
Griffin was flabbergasted by the sentence, saying that Goodman should have gotten straight jail time. Indeed, Washington sentencing guidelines mandate a minimum sentence of two months in jail for anyone with a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 or higher, unless that sentence would endanger the defendant's well-being. It's not even a close call--given Goodman's previous record, the danger to the public outweighs his well-being by a city mile.
Believe it or not, this isn't the first time Goodman got a big break. While his case was still pending, judge James Dixon allowed Goodman to attend the Super Bowl. Goodman's attorney said that his client didn't want to miss a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to watch the game. As incomprehensible as this is by itself, Dixon had previously ixnayed Goodman's request to take part in a soccer tournament in Las Vegas.
When I saw this on ThinkProgress, I thought this was snark. After all, I don't understand how this guy was still even on the road. In in my state of North Carolina, if you get three DUI convictions, you lose your license--permanently. And how can the need for Goodman to keep his business going outweigh the fact that he's a clear and present danger whenever he gets on the road? A lot of other people want to know as well, and picketed the local courthouse on Friday.
This sentence--or more accurately, this phrase--is almost as outrageous as Ethan Crouch getting 10 years' probation after killing four people and injuring 10 others in a drunk driving accident. Schaller, Dixon and Powers all have some explaining to do for coddling a guy who should have never been behind the wheel.