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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.

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.

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.  

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.

Originally posted to Christian Dem in NC on Sun May 18, 2014 at 02:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Koscadia.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good (7+ / 0-)

    Let's see more of this.   A felony conviction is nothing small.  Neither is a year under court supervision, which -- if he's as bad a stone drunk as it sounds like -- he won't make it through anyway.  

    Why should I be outraged because my state doesn't punish people enough?  Instead of ever more punishment and wanting to bring it down on the heads of lawbreakers with ever greater ferocity -- and becoming angry when someone relatively privileged gets a break -- why don't we spend the same damn energy seeking those breaks for those who don't have the connections and the skin color to get treated as human beings?

    I have no sympathy for someone who can afford a Ferrari in Olympia and proceeds to smack it into things.  It implies that he could afford the best of legal counsel and it paid off for him.  But I don't think we level the playing field by destroying more people.  This wasn't egregious -- to me anyway.  If you don't kill or injure anyone, a year sleeping at the jail seems proportionate.  While it sucks that proportionality is mostly reserved for the rich,  the solution to me is not lock 'em up like the rest of us -- it's to provide that same standard across the board.

    And yeah, the superbowl is a bit much.  But I'll save my outrage for a system which incarcerates so many with such abandon.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Sun May 18, 2014 at 02:17:00 PM PDT

    •  I could have seen it if it was just one conviction (7+ / 0-)

      But with his record?  This is way too lenient.

      "Leave us alone!" -Mike Capuano

      by Christian Dem in NC on Sun May 18, 2014 at 02:36:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I must say that if the Superbowl thing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, Duckmg

      happened while his case was still pending, and that would mean that it was before he was found guilty, and therefore still with a presumption of innocence.

      I don't see why the judge would have any say on his attending the Superbowl or not at that stage of the case.

    •  The issue would seem to be consistency... (5+ / 0-)

      This man is a repeat offender.  His crime endangers the lives of other people.  It's a miracle that no one else has been hurt or killed up to now.  He should not be exempt from the punishment that someone not driving a Ferrari would get.

      Has Washington state caught the "affluenza" bug?

      •  No, we just don't seem to have the quite as bad (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Duckmg, unfangus

        ...a case of the vengeance bug.  This sentence is entirely in keeping with what other liberal democracies do, except for the superbowl part, which is obviously gratuitous.  We're so used to insanely severe sentences.  Unless you're advocating revolution via misery (which has always seemed pretty dubious morally, shy some ideological certainty of a dialectical synthesis when everyone is sufficiently oppressed), it makes sense to me that expressing outrage over what the rest of the civilized world takes as a light but still reasonable sentence is less useful than arguing that everyone who breaks the law should have the circumstances of their life taken into account, not just those who can afford fancy lawyers.  Yes it's bad that the dude with the Ferrari gets work release and the poor AA kid gets a plea bargain to a decade.  But arguing they both should get put away for a long time seems...well...maybe that's the kind of place you want to live. Not me.

        And no, I've never been to jail.  But I don't see myself as so far away from those who screw up  that the absolute horror of our current incarceration rate seems like something we want to encourage.  At all.  I think there's a good chance our era will be remembered for the new Jim Crow, a signature moral failure.  Mileage varies, obviously.  One of the things I like about living in the liberal part of my state is that we're not quite as prison crazy as many parts of the country.  Still high by international norms but in the bottom ten, state-wise.

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Sun May 18, 2014 at 10:46:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not vengeance... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jessical

          it's just that leniency isn't working.

          This is the 7th alcohol-related offense for this guy.  I don't think there should be a "3 strikes and you're out" law; but I do think that the sentencing for repeat offenses should get progressively harsher.  

          Give everyone a break on their first offense, and maybe their second, but on the 7th time around; it would appear that the rehabilitation part isn't working.  So let's start thinking about the safety of the general public.

          Eventually, someone is going to get seriously injured or killed by this guy.

          •  I'm over my limit (0+ / 0-)

            for deeply disagreeing with the spirit and content of a diary.  And I like the diarist generally and don't mean to troll out.  I'm going up after this comment and adding a T&R even though I bitterly disagree because, well, you gotta appreciate the conversation started...

            I can hardly defend the fellow.  Olympia isn't all that rich a place, or large a place, statehouse aside, and in some ways its small enough that if you can buy a Ferrari and you're a white male it likely shapes itself around you in fortuitous and grossly unfair ways.  Certainly none of my often inebriated sometime neighbors at the marina could have hoped for a break like this.  By your seventh offense you should be looking at far worse things than DUI, like circumventing court orders and driving with a long-suspended license and breathalyzer ignition locks if they are allowed near a car.  If he's driving himself to the jail at night I'd be pissed as hell, and for all I know he is...but it doesn't seem likely.  It seems more likely that he's a rich bastard trying to kill himself with misery and booze, whose lawyer does all the talking.  It also seems like, if he's sleeping in jail every night and they have snagged his car and booze test him, that his chances to do it again are quite low, at least until his sentence is up.  Not sure what more jail would do that this won't.  He'll either do himself and someone else in at the end or he won't, but unless you're proposing life the risk remains.

            I'm not saying it is fair or consistent.  Just that this -- to me -- would be a lot more palatable as an argument with some compare and contrast.   Like, poor Seattle kid on same offense.  I do get that there's the mildly authoritarian wing, who are driven more by a desire for consistency and fairness before a system of laws they respect, and people like me, who think the whole affair is out of control who think that the inability of so many to vote or get jobs or apartments has already turned us into a different and much worse place to be a person.  And this is DK, and it's supposed to be about common ground, for those differing motivations.  So, sure...highlight the rich asshats who have the privilege of good representation and intelligible subjectivity.  But at least show why it's wrong by contrast , not just yell for more punishment or feed the outrage which has already rendered us a nation of prosecutors and plea bargains.  Arguably most punishment is deserved.  That doesn't mean heavy punishment is the right thing to do if you want to have a livable society.

            ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

            by jessical on Mon May 19, 2014 at 10:29:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  FWIW (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    viral, Bob Love, FarWestGirl

    No posh treatment facility for Couch. He's at North Texas State Hospital in Vernon.

    The Vernon campus provides maximum security adult forensic psychiatric services to adults and secured forensic services to adolescents referred from throughout the state.
    https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/...

    Unfortunately, it will be largely at tax payer expense.

    The parents of a teen who was sentenced to 10 years probation for driving drunk and causing a wreck that killed four people were ordered by the court Friday to pay $1,170 a month for his rehab treatment
    The actual cost of his treatment is $715 per day, according to testimony on Friday.
    When asked what he thought about the amount the Couch family was ordered to pay, Coontz told reporters that it was his understanding that it is the maximum amount on the facility’s sliding scale.

    “As a taxpayer, I probably feel exactly like you do,” Coontz said. “It seems like maybe that ought to be a little different and should be addressed if there’s the ability to pay. Most time, I don’t know that there is. Clearly, sometimes that ability is there.”

    http://www.star-telegram.com/...

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Sun May 18, 2014 at 02:23:04 PM PDT

  •  Must be a white guy making white privilege work (7+ / 0-)

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Sun May 18, 2014 at 02:24:04 PM PDT

  •  Reckless evasion was not charged (10+ / 0-)

    because the offender was the right color and drove the right kind of car ..and this story went unreported on three of our four local tv stations.
    Affluenza strikes again.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Sun May 18, 2014 at 02:35:24 PM PDT

  •  What part of "Holy Job Creator" are we missing ? (8+ / 0-)

    Job Creators are what Americans have because we don't have Squires and Baronets ...

    With Rank comes Privilege ... and immunity from prosecution under laws designed to keep the Lower Orders on their best behavior.

    I could be worse ... 16th Century England almost never convicted a "man of property" for the sexual rape a servant or tenant.

  •  Phucker should be in jail nt (4+ / 0-)

    "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

    by Damnit Janet on Sun May 18, 2014 at 03:13:48 PM PDT

  •  Ya a Ferrari in Oly (4+ / 0-)

    the guy is an asshole. And the Westside is no highfalutin joint its more like dive bar in a bad film noir.

    Seems to me that if he sold the Ferrari he could pay someone to do his job while he was in jail. I mean what does a "telecommunications" guy do now that the need for fancy telephone systems is practically obsolete?

  •  It doesn't say so directly but it suggests (5+ / 0-)

    that the guy still had a license. How the hell is that possible (if true)?

  •  at Raw Story, they have (7+ / 0-)

    this:

    At his sentencing hearing, Judge James Dixon noted that he not only had six previous DUIs, but had also recently graduated from a DUI course in Thurston County.
    Which only makes it worse: most states pull licenses permanently for fewer offenses.

    There was a guy on my train, for a while, who had lost his license for multiple DUIs. He still drank to excess, but he wasn't driving. (I have no idea how he managed to hold down a job.)

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Sun May 18, 2014 at 04:16:49 PM PDT

  •  Here Is Judge Christine Schaller (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Santa Susanna Kid

    telling us how wonderful she is.

    http://www.youtube.com/...

    "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

    by kerplunk on Sun May 18, 2014 at 06:54:40 PM PDT

  •  Check this shit out: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl

    Texas woman gets a life sentence for her 6th DUI:
    http://www.abovetopsecret.com/...
    ...SSK

    "Hey Clinton, I'm bushed" - Keith Richards UID 194838

    by Santa Susanna Kid on Sun May 18, 2014 at 09:12:44 PM PDT

  •  Asshole can afford a Ferrari, he can afford a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    chauffeur, he should't be driving. And what the hell kind of business does he have, anyway?

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
    ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

    by FarWestGirl on Mon May 19, 2014 at 01:05:21 AM PDT

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