(Editor's note: Back when Tom Pfeifer was required to read five-plus newspapers a day for his day job, for amusement he compiled news reports from which he could thread a theme and emailed his Initial Thoughts to family and friends. While he works on other projects, he is regurgitating some of them here. We hope you enjoy.)

Initial Thoughts
© 2007 Tom Pfeifer
Current as of January 13, 2007

This week we look at crime and justice.

I can vouch for the crime. Justice is a bit murky.

We’ll skip a few high-profile cases, namely the

release of Alpha Dog, a movie based on a

real-life murder and the aptly-named, only-

in-California defendant Jesse James

Hollywood; the Duke University rape-that-

never-happened and the antics of the


district attorney, Mike Nifong; and whether

or not Yoko Ono did the nasty with her

chauffeur before accusing him of extortion.

We’ll skip the rash of politicians who make

it weekly into the news accused of crimes and

ethical lapses large and small, including Chicago Alderman Arenda Troutman, who was arrested on charges of bribery but keeps her council seat; Roosevelt Dorn, who was re-elected to a third term as Inglewood, California’s mayor despite allegations he abused the city’s low-interest mortgage program; and former national security adviser and compulsive liar Sandy Berger’s apparent document kleptomania.

No let’s instead take note of the St. Louis man who bought a gun for his wife because he worried for her safety. He served her a warm beer. She shot and killed him. Guns don’t kill people. Warm beer kills people.

Or the yahoos who were staying in a Southern California inn—along with eight pounds of marijuana and $44,400 in cash. They went on a bender and got evicted. During the eviction, the cops found their stash.

James Brown’s spirit is alive and well in Alabama, where two gentlemen got into an argument about the Godfather of Soul’s height. It’s apparently a touchy subject and, in true James Brown tradition, escalated into a gun battle. The loser is recovering in a hospital. The winner’s in jail.

And in a story right out of a television crime drama, a Texas teenager is refusing to have a bullet removed from his skull because it might implicate him in a burglary and attempted murder case.

Note also the fate of Santa Barbara County, California, Superior Court Judge Diana Hall, who decided this week not to challenge her removal from the bench for, among other reasons, not properly disclosing a $2,000 campaign loan from her lesbian lover. Her lover’s name? Ms. Dykeman.

But at least California removes its wayward judges. In North Carolina you can fleece an Alzheimer’s victim, lose your law license, and yet keep your robes, albeit without the ability to hear cases. District Court Judge James Ethridge did finally voluntarily resign his post, but only after collecting $25,000 in salary for not sitting on the bench. Ethridge says the state bar made a bad decision in taking his license, and vows to appeal.

Appealing your arrest or conviction, of course, is your right. And, should you be falsely accused, take the case of Tommie Rice to heart and vehemently declare, “I didn’t do it!” Nashville police arrested Rice and extradited him to Maryland to face a sex offense charge. Rice apparently told Nashville police he had never been to Maryland, but otherwise didn’t raise a fuss. On the advice of his public defender, Rice even waived extradition. Once in Maryland, authorities finally fingerprinted Rice and discovered he wasn’t the man in the wanted poster. Rice had spent Christmas and New Year’s in jail. Upon his release, Maryland authorities sent him to a homeless shelter. He’s hoping relatives will send him the cash to get home. I’m not sure they want him back.

Yet despite all the negativity, there’s some light in the justice system tunnel. Thirty-two French National Police officers are in Los Angeles training alongside the West Coast’s finest. On Monday, they will be deployed with Beverly Hills police to guard the Golden Globes Awards where they will, no doubt, be serving freedom fries and discussing George Bush’s IQ with Hollywood’s elite.

And that’s justice in America. Or, in the immortal words of Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards: “I’ve never had a problem with drugs.  I’ve had problems with the police.”


Bustillo, Miguel. Times Staff Writer. “Search stops at teen’s skull.” Los Angeles Times. 10 January 2007.

Dunbar, Elizabeth. Associated Press. “Papers cast new doubt on accuser.” Charlotte Observer. 12 January 2007.

Frankel, Todd C. St Louis Post-Dispatch. “On Its Face, a Joke. In Its Details, a Tragedy.” Washington Post. 7 January 2007. Page A09.

Hartocollis, Anemona. “Driver’s Letter to Yoko Ono Is Released, and Rebutted.” New York Times. 10 January 2007.

Hobbs, Dawn. News-Press Staff Writer. “Court approves ‘Alpha Dog’ release before trial begins.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 10 January 2007.

Hobbs, Dawn. News-Press Staff Writer. “Hall won't challenge judicial ruling that ended her 30-year law career.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 11 January 2007.

Korecki, Natasha and O’Donnell, Maureen. Staff Writers. Frank Main, Steve Warmbir, Art Golab, and Tim Novak contributed. “Alderman busted.” Chicago Sun-Times. 9 January 2007.

Kuznia, Rob. News-Pres Staff Writer. “Major marijuana arrest nets cash, too.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 11 January 2007. h

Locke, Mandy. Raleigh News & Observer. “Judge leaving bench amid controversy over lost license.” Charlotte Observer. 11 January 2007.

Londono, Ernesto. Washington Post Staff Writer. Staff writer Martin Weil contributed. “Authorities Extradite Wrong Person, Stranding Tenn. Man in Gaithersburg.” Washington Post. 9 January 2007. Page B02.

Prestridge, Adam. “Shooting reaches new heights.” Atmore Advance. 10 January 2007.

Reitman, Valerie. Times Staff Writer. “Inglewood mayor wins reelection.” Los Angeles Times. 11 January 2007.

Richards, Keith. “Quotations about Justice.” The Quote Garden. 14 January 2007.

Smith, R. Jeffrey. Washington Post Staff Writer. “Document-Theft Probe Is Criticized.” Washington Post. 10 January 2007. Page A04.

Stevenson, John. Staff writers Ginny Hoyle, Neil Offen, and Bryan Strickland and the Associated Press contributed. “Nifong asks off case.” Durham Herald-Sun. 12 January 2007. 11:42 p.m.


(Editor's note: No one should go hungry during these trying times. If you have the means, please donate to your local food bank. Even a dollar goes a long way. Simply search "food banks near me" to find one. If you're in need, please contact them for help.)


Tom Pfeifer is president and CEO of Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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Initial Thoughts: It’s a Crime