I know it’s cliché to say, but I think I was born in the wrong era. At least, that’s what my chakra-guru-psychic-dream weaver says. (I’m a cheap bastard, and if someone’s willing to work four jobs in exchange for lint from my belly button, who am I to judge?)
Figuring out when I should have been born wasn’t easy. After a number of scientifically proven personality tests—my spirit animal is the mandrill—and a late-night viewing of Mel Brooks’ The History of the World Part 1, I am proud to announce that I was spawned about 500 years shy of my ideal target: the Spanish inquisition. An age when heathens were burned at the stake. When men were men. Who waterboarded other men until they confessed to crimes just to stop being waterboarded. I suppose I could probably get in on that action today, but it just doesn’t have quite the same flair as it once did. You’ve got to hand it to the Europeans: Whether it’s eating cheese in fancy berets or torturing people, they do everything with style.
District Attorney Gerald Shea could take a page from their book. If the Spanish Inquisition was all about condemning people with no evidence, Shea’s into releasing people despite mountains of evidence.
Really, what do you have to do to get more than a slap on the wrist around here? Besides helping homeless people, I mean. Dan De Vaul was convicted of two nonviolent misdemeanors and he got one-third the jail time of former Arroyo Grande councilman Ed Arnold, who was convicted of felony burglary and owning kiddie porn. OK, you got me. Arnold got three years of probation, too. But you can get that much probation for pinching Ho Hos from the 7-11. Believe me.
Way to go Shea! You nailed De Vaul: a guy who is admittedly a pain in the ass, but who is sincerely committed to helping the dispossessed. Criminals are quaking in their boots! I’ve even invented what I’m calling a “rap ballad” in Shea’s honor:
“Don’t cross Shea/ He keeps the criminals at bay/ Unless you’re an AG VIP/ They get better treatment than you and me.”
That’s all I’ve got so far. It’s a work in progress, and my dog ate most of my rhyming dictionary. But I’ve invested in a bandana and put shock absorbers on my tricycle so my music video on YouTube will look authentic.
What I’m trying to say is that I’d like to volunteer to serve as Chief Inquisitor for the DA’s office. I’ve been collecting used pushpins for some time, and believe they could be used as thumbscrews. All I ask in return is that I get a shiny cubic zirconium nameplate with my title. And an assistant to shine the nameplate.
So Arnold gets busted for breaking into a woman’s house when she wasn’t there. Based on the police account, he was lying in wait with a club and zip ties, and hammering away at the woman when she got home. The woman gave a very emotional testimony—and rightfully so, considering she thought he was going to kill her. And with a pack of zip ties on his person, I’d say that’s a pretty fair assumption to make.
I guess he might have been planning to give her Pipi Longstocking hair. Or serial killer-inspired friendship bracelets. Maybe he was going to zip tie her hand to her neck so it looked like she was picking her nose.
Oh Arnold, you silly scamp.
Maybe attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu incorporated that into his defense, which must have been one hell of a PR job considering that Shea allowed Arnold to enter a plea so he could dismiss five out of the seven charges. I was never very good at math, but isn’t that something like three-quarters of what he was being charged with? Assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence, threatening bodily harm, possession of an illegal assault weapon, and videotaping a minor for pornographic purposes. Petty stuff, really. At least that’s what Funke-Bilu would tell you. For a steep price.
“I fight for my clients with my tongue and my brain and my instincts, but I am known to charge dearly,” his website says.
I don’t know what he charged Arnold, but the lawyer was worth every penny considering the sentence, which was hardly the kind of spanking Arnold deserved
I’m not a fan of vigilante justice—the average person is way too stupid to dole out comeuppance—but Shea’s shoddy performance in this particular case certainly raises the temptation. We all love a sure thing, but when you’re getting paid to protect your community, you should go out on a limb every once in awhile. Not that this case was much of a limb.
I dunno. There’s no denying that Shea’s got a hard-on for medical marijuana dispensaries. Maybe he’s been spending so much time in the evidence locker that he’s dropping the ball on the important stuff. Maybe he should get a clue and re-evaluate his priorities. I, for one, am not all that scared of De Vaul. I’d hate to be stuck with him on a road trip or in an elevator that breaks down for a couple of hours, but at least he doesn’t strike me as the type of fellow who’s going to end up behind my front door with a bag of restraints and a club.
But Arnold? He terrifies me, and not because I’m a coward. Because he’s a man who got busted for really nasty stuff and walked away without even a trial. Maybe Shea belongs in another era, too, an era when you didn’t actually have to work for your convictions, when you could string your perps up by their toes until they confessed to whatever crimes you wanted them to.
Don’t worry, Shea. I’ll make sure my time machine has a passenger seat. All you have to do is look the other way when I get busted for pinching Ho Hos.
Shredder needs tools for the time machine. Send paper clips and rubber bands to firstname.lastname@example.org.