Random thoughts on a variety of subjects
Everyone (anyone) deserves a proper appeal
A simple principle of our rights as citizens is that in a criminal trial, we are granted “substantive due process.” This involves the broad notion that a person shall not be arbitrarily deprived of his liberty. If a person is deprived of the opportunity to appeal, substantive due process rights have been violated. Every citizen should have every opportunity to appeal (his conviction or his sentence), because it is wrong if anyone has been tried in any court proceeding with errors or if his sentence has been meted out disproportionate to the circumstances.
An appeal is not a retrial of the case, but is an examination of the trial record to ensure that proceedings were conducted in a fair manner.
No one should ever be convicted in a trial where there were “fundamental errors (goes to the heart of the case) or harmful errors (had a probable impact on the outcome). And, no one who has been rightfully convicted in a trial should ever receive a sentence which does not take into account all of the circumstances (including prior convictions) concerning the accused and the situational facts of the crime and the opportunity and likelihood of a reoccurance. A sentence must be proprotionate when all of the circumstances are considered. In the interest of justice we should always fight for anyone who has been convicted of a crime to have the opportunity to appeal and to have their conviction overturned, if such errors and irregularities occured, or to have their sentence reduced (in the event of a rightful conviction) if it has been given out disproportionately.
In my opinion, the sentence was draconian. Although, I do believe that Bent acted inappropriately and I consider (in my opinion) what he did was wrong, that that the circumstances of his lack of a prior record, lack of any actual sexual acts being involved and the strong testimony of witnesses (alleged as victims) that they did not feel sexually assaulted, along with the situation of his isolated living arrangement, which no longer has minors in residence (and because they could be limited by the court from even being allowed visitations) would and should be enough to indicate a lesser sentence. For example, a reasonable punishment, such as a short incarceration, accompanied by probation, which could even be a monitored house arrest with multiple restrictions, (such as no contact with minors) would be reasonable and fit the “proportionate to circumstances” stipulations (rights) provided by the law..
The principles of the laws of our nation are such that everyone should receive a trial without harmful errors and if convicted, then be able to fairly receive a reasonable sentence, which is appropriate (and proportional) to all the circumstances. All of us should fight for the rights for every convicted person to get their chance to appeal in both of those situations. All of us should help whenever possible and where we are aware that contributions are needed to see that everyone in need of such an appeal can have the benefit of the very best in legal counsel (court appointed attorneys are so overloaded that they simply cannot rise to that standard).