08 Feb 2016


Cost of Justice

Scales of Justice - Frankfurt Version

Photo by Michael Coghlan on Flickr

By K. Denise Rucker Krepp, ANC6B10 Commissioner

Last week, I spent two heartrending hours in court watching the wheels of justice turn. I was there because one my residents was raped last October. This horrific crime shocked the neighborhood and yet, the defense attorney questioned why members of the public would attend the hearing. According to her, neighbors usually lose interest.

Losing interest is not something that has occurred in this case. Instead as the local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, I constantly get questions about the victim. How is she doing? What is the status of the case? What can I do to help? People ask these questions because we are a community and we care about one another.

But this care comes with a price – time and money. People must be willing to spend otherwise busy hours in court watching prosecutors and defense attorney spar over evidence and debate motions. I realize that this is difficult for most people to do, but if you can, please do it.

The suspect involved in the October rape case had also been arrested September 30, 2015 at Martin Luther King library for intent to distribute a controlled substance.

Local reporter Jackie Bensen discovered that on September 30th the suspect was found with a broken GPS ankle monitor. And sadly, this wasn’t his first arrest. He was arrested in July 2013 for armed robbery and was on probation when the September arrest occurred.

Yet, the judge determined on January 15, 2016 that there was no probable cause for the September 30th charges and his case was dismissed. I asked the Department of Justice for more information. Their response? Request a transcript from the DC Courts.

And this is where the financial cost comes in. The DC Courts charge (per page): “$3.65 for Regular Delivery (30 calendar days for non-appeal and 60 calendar days for appeal), $4.25 for Intermediate Delivery (15 calendar days), $4.85 for Expedite (7 calendar days), $5.15 for Express (3 business days), $6.06 for Daily (9:00 am following business day), $7.25 for Hourly (Approval Required), $0.90 for Copy (Regular or Expedite Delivery) $1.20 for Copy (Daily Delivery).”

Huh? All I want to know is why there was no probable cause when the suspect, on probation, was found with a broken GPS ankle bracelet and drugs. I never expected to have to jump through bureaucratic hoops and pay exorbitant fees to answer what should be a simple question.

So yes, one of the reasons I went to court yesterday was to learn whether or not the judge was going to determine if there was probable cause for the rape case. I wasn’t willing to pay outrageous monetary fees and I was willing to spend the time sitting in court to get a straight answer.

Later this spring, the suspect will be on trial for our neighbor’s rape case. She was physically hurt and the psychological damage will last a life-time. The best way to show you care is to be there. Your presence will remind the defense attorney that we haven’t lost interest and more importantly, it will demonstrate to our neighbor that we are community and that we look after one another.

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