It took all day yesterday for the enormity of Jordan Brown’s predicament to sink in. I was at a loss to understand the judge’s decision. The defense attorneys had told me he was a straight-arrow; in their experience Judge Dominick Motto had a reputation for fairness. Yet he had gone along with the prosecution’s absurd argument that Jordan cannot be rehabilitated unless he stops maintaining his innocence and admits to the crime before it has been proved whether or not he even committed it, and that failing an admission of guilt, Jordan must therefore be declared an adult.
Does this mean that children in Pennsylvania do not have the right to plead innocence when wrongfully accused of murder? Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty?
And how could this judge have been persuaded by the state’s inconclusive “evidence” that Jordan could have even committed this crime? What can have been the judge’s real motivation?
“I just don’t get it,” I said to myself. We met the statutory requirements for proving Jordan’s “amenability to rehabilitation,” and were supported in our arguments by Dr. Kurt Heilbrun, possibly the leading adolescent psychologist in the country. The prosecution is remaking the rules to suit themselves, and has apparently gotten the judge to go along.
Chris called me on his way home from Erie, where he’d gone first thing after hearing the news of Judge Motto’s decision. He wanted to be the first one to tell Jordan. Chris said Jordan “cried and cried.”
“How is Jordan putting it all together?” I asked. “What does he think is going on?”
“He’s trying to understand. He asked some good questions about whether there would be a fair jury, but the whole situation is even beyond my comprehension. How can you expect a kid to understand what’s happening when we don’t even understand?” he replied. “There’s something else at play that we don’t know about.”
“I’ve been thinking about this all day, Chris, and the only thing that makes sense to me is that there’s been a political fix agreed to. Unless they’ve fabricated some kind of ‘bombshell’ evidence we don’t know about (and they’re not allowed to withhold evidence), they know and we know they’re empty-handed of proof. The state knows it’s screwed up and they’re trying to force us into accepting a plea that will be face-saving for them and will prevent us from going after the state and its officials when the truth comes out,” I said.
Sure enough, by day’s end KDKA was reporting that the prosecution had signaled that they’re willing to be flexible about the penalty they’ll go for if the defense will deal.
Jordan’s attorney Dennis Elisco was quoted as saying that he and David Acker are considering making an interlocutory appeal of the judge’s decision.
According to Wikipedia: An interlocutory appeal is an appeal of a ruling by a trial court that is made before the trial itself has concluded. Most jurisdictions generally prohibit such appeals, requiring parties to wait until the trial has concluded before they challenge any of the decisions made by the judge during that trial. However, some jurisdictions (including Pennsylvania) can make an exception for decisions which are particularly prejudicial to the rights of an accused.
This judge is obviously no longer impartial and should have his decision reviewed and overturned by a court not influenced by politics but guided by the law.
There is more riding on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s getting this right than just young Jordan Brown’s future. People in all parts of the country and from all walks of life are sensing that something has gone horribly wrong in our country when the rights of an innocent child like Jordan can be trampled, and when that child can be designated as a sacrificial lamb and railroaded to perpetuate a broken and corrupt system.
There is a spirit of rebellion spreading in America. Tea Party activists are just the tip of the iceberg. The authorities in Pennsylvania are playing with fire and may unintentionally spawn a firestorm in the streets.