Pubdate: Wed, 28 Sep 2005
Source: Berkshire Eagle, The (Pittsfield, MA)
Copyright: 2005 New England Newspapers, Inc.
Author:  Madonna Meagher


To the Editor of THE EAGLE:

The morning after Kyle Sawin was acquitted, I sat in West Stockbridge 
enjoying a late Saturday breakfast.

At the next table, a couple was reading all about the verdict, and 
clearly agreed with it. The woman seemed amused by the page A2 
headline, "Capeless befuddled by jury's decision to free Sawin." 
Befuddled seemed like an apt word to describe David Capeless. The 
jury "got" what he did not. Youths who can be persuaded to sell 
joints to a "gifted" undercover officer are not the same as major 
dealers out looking for buyers.

The district attorney's policy to apply the school-zone charge at 
every opportunity is overkill; we know it, the jury knew it. The law 
is not that a school-zone charge must be applied in every possible 
case. Just as not everyone stopped for speeding gets a ticket, 
charges are at the discretion of the police officer.

The law is that a conviction for a school-zone violation must get a 
mandatory minimum two-year jail sentence.

The application of school-zone charges is at the total discretion of 
the district attorney.

Two-year jail sentences are costly and paid for by all of us, the taxpayers.

How much time and money has District Attorney Capeless' policy cost us already?

Two trials, more than 14 days for 12 jurors plus alternates don't 
even begin to describe how much money has been wasted on this one 
case. And there are several cases left to go. I applaud the jury for 
seeing the issues in this case clearly.

District Attorney Capeless needs to change course and revise his policy.

If he drops these school-zone charges, and sends the cases back to 
District Court, guess what happens? A judge gets to look at each case 
individually and decide the appropriate consequence. What a novel 
idea! Let's give it a whirl!


Great Barrington
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake