Augusta, Maine – Just when we thought that other states watching the fiasco of New York’s bail reform would learn from what they were seeing, Maine shows up and ruins that idea.
Legislators have introduced two different bills that would significantly reform Maine’s bail system.
One proposal, LD 1421, sponsored by state Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland), would eliminate cash bail for class-E charges, which includes offenses like driving on a suspended license, disorderly conduct and theft under $500.
If New York isn’t a good enough example of what it looks like when criminals are simply released on their own recognizance, perhaps they should look at Massachusetts.
For our readers in Massachusetts, you likely recognize the names Ronald Tarentino, Sean Gannon, Michael Chesna and Gene Coles.
In 2016, Officer Tarentino, 42, conducted a traffic stop about 12:30 am this morning on a while colored 1997 Infiniti QX4 Sport Utility Vehicle.
As Officer Tarentino approached the vehicle, the driver opened fire with a hand gun striking Officer Tarentino multiple times in the chest. The suspect driver fled the scene of the traffic stop in his vehicle.
Officer Tarentino was transported to UMass Memorial Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased.
In 2018, Officer Gannon, 32, was shot while assisting other officers in the service of a multi-jurisdictional search warrant during a narcotics investigation and a probation violation warrant. Gannon and his K-9 partner, Nero, were searching the home when the suspect in the investigation was found hiding in the attic.
Upon being detected, the suspect opened fire, striking Gannon in the head and also wounding K9 Nero. The other officers conducting the search of the house were able to get Gannon out of the residence. Subsequently, he was transported to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis.
Gannon did not survive the gunshot wound and died at the hospital.
K9 Nero, who was seriously wounded by gunfire, was transported to an Emergency Veterinarian Hospital.
Also in 2018, Officer Chesna, 42, was shot and killed while he was investigating a reckless driver. Upon his arrival at the scene, he found the vehicle had been involved in a collision with another automobile and the suspect driver had fled the scene. Chesna located the suspect near the location of the crash vandalizing a home.
Chesna confronted the suspect who immediately attacked him with a large stone striking him in the head. The suspect then disarmed him and commenced shooting the officer multiple times in the head and chest. The suspect then fled that scene on foot.
Chesna was taken to South Shore Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Lastly, in 2018, Jonathan Williams shot and killed Maine Sheriff’s Deputy Gene Coles.
Following the shooting, Williams stole Cole’s cruiser and then robbed a convenience store, officials said. After fleeing the store, he abandoned the vehicle, which was found around 5 a.m., officials confirmed.
What did all of these murderers have in common? None of them should have been on the streets when they murdered these officers. But thanks to bail reform, they were.
Enter politicians from Maine and their proposal to do the same. And in doing so, threaten to make the job of an officer that much more dangerous. There is already an issue with recruiting and retention in Maine.
And these politicians are not doing anything to help reverse that trend.
They brought about legislation that banned profiling, but required officers to profile and then held them liable for doing so.
The proposed Maine bill would maintain safety protections for domestic violence and sexual assault charges.
However, it would increase the burden of proof for justifying not releasing a defendant on their personal recognizance, as well as remove from the list of authorized bail conditions that people refrain from possession or use of alcohol or illegal drugs.
Even prosecutors are supporting reformation of Maine’s cash bail system.
Andrew Robinson, who serves as president of the Maine Prosecutors’ Association, said that while the association could not give a blanket endorsement, many of the association members are “philosophically in agreement” with a proposal to reform the state’s bail system.
Robinson, who also serves as the district attorney for Franklin and Oxford counties, said that while he believes there are some remaining “areas for discussion,” the proposed legislation seeks to address what in effect is a two-tiered justice system.
“On its face, the prosecutors understand the purpose for it,” Robinson told members of the Judicial Committee.
“God forbid, but if I was picked up for an OUI and bail was set at $500, I’m coming home. But if another fella’ didn’t have that ability, same charge, same background, they are going to have to sit in jail.”
And Talbot Ross’s reasoning:
“Using a person’s disability and their history of substance use to keep them in jail is bad health policy, and it’s bad public policy,” Talbot Ross told the committee. “It costs the state more and is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Did Talbot Ross just say that bail is discriminatory towards people with disabilities? Yes. Yes, she did.
As a disabled person, I don’t see it. I also do not appreciate Talbot Ross pandering and using the ADA as a “crutch” for her distorted political views.
I know that you will be shocked to learn that this isn’t the first time she has played the “that’s discrimination, I just can’t figure out how” card.
On April 10, 2019, the Maine State House Judiciary Committee held a hearing regarding a civilian panel investigating police use of deadly force.
LD 1219 and HP 0879, An Act To Establish an Independent Panel To Review the Use of Deadly Force by Law Enforcement Officers, was the bill being discussed.
Paul Gaspar, Executive Director of the Maine Association of Police, commented in opposition of the proposed bills.
In his testimony, he referred to any potential civilian review board as a potential “kangaroo court.” At the 3:45:17 mark of the recording, Talbot Ross is recognized.
“I would like to ask a follow-up question from my colleague, by what you meant when you said ‘kangaroo,’ given that it is such a racially charged word, she asked of Gaspar.”
I say again, umm…what?
Gaspar responds by saying that it may have been a poor choice of words, but he stands behind the words.
“What I mean by that is, when you look at cases such as the Freddie Gray case, or even the Ferguson case, at least from our perspective, there was very much a political groundswell that drove the narrative.
And when that narrative failed to produce a conviction, or an indictment because the grand jury was charged with following the bright line letter of the law regarding use of force, it did nothing to quell the anger or the rage, and it did nothing to instill trust in the process.”
Talbot Ross was not to be dissuaded from her line of thought.
“If you then look at the membership of this board, are you then suggesting that the member of the clergy, or the person that advocates for civil rights and minorities constitutes a kangaroo?
Because, the other members are criminal defense attorneys, officers, the Attorney General, and the Maine Sheriff’s Association, so who is the kangaroo in this membership?”
Gaspar’s concern: the bill is written in such ambiguity, that the board could be entirely comprised of people with ZERO law enforcement experience.
He said that what the bill is looking to do is identical to the way politicians in the state view things now. If there are 25 OIS incidents in a specific period of time and they are all determined to be justified, politicians are insinuating that they the grand jury process is merely a rubber stamp, thus being a “kangaroo court.”
Now, at this point, I need you to buckle up. Talbot Ross’s response is one bumpy ride.
“I just want to caution you, and you can take my advice or not, but the use of the term “kangaroo court” in regards to this bill is highly offensive,” she says.
OK. I have to ask. What the hell is she talking about?
An exhaustive search revealed no evidence of the word kangaroo being used in terms of race or discrimination. But, then again, progressive liberals.
Kangaroo courts are sham legal proceedings which are set-up in order to give the impression of a fair legal process. In fact, they offer no impartial justice as the verdict, invariably to the detriment of the accused, is decided in advance.
Such courts are associated with groups who have found a need to dispense a rough and ready form of justice but are, temporarily at least, outside the bounds of formal judicial processes; for example, inmates in jail, soldiers at war, settlers of lands where no jurisdiction has yet been established.
The origin of ‘kangaroo court‘ is unknown, although, given that kangaroos are native nowhere else, we might expect the term to have originated in Australia.
As always, a lack of a definite origin encourages speculative claims, which may be an appropriate word in this context as one frequently repeated supposed derivation relates to ‘claim jumping’ in the California Gold Rush – hence the allusion to kangaroos. That’s quite a plausible notion.
Kangaroos and their claim to fame, so to speak, that is, jumping, were known in the USA by the early 1800s, so there’s no reason to limit the derivation to Australia. Also, the earliest known citation of the term is American and appears in a collection of magazine articles by Philip Paxton (the pen name of Samuel Adams Hammett), which were published in 1853 under the title of A stray Yankee in Texas:
“By a unanimous vote, Judge G– was elected to the bench and the ‘Mestang’ or ‘Kangaroo Court’ regularly organized.”
None of this matters to Talbot Ross.
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