Pubdate: Tue, 12 Feb 2008
Source: West Hawaii Today (HI)
Copyright: 2008 West Hawaii Today
Author: Bob Nelson


Was it too extreme?

Does justice equal good judgment?

Last Monday, on Feb. 4th the Hon. Greg K. Nakamura, 3rd Circuit judge,
sentenced 24-year-old, Sequoia O. Heuer to 10 years in prison for his
involvement in his father's marijuana cultivation business. This young
man had openly admitted his involvement and had thrown himself upon
the mercy of the court.

I believe Judge Nakamura was correct in his assessment of the gravity
of this matter, though it would appear the sentencing was quite harsh
considering Sequoia was a first time offender with no prior arrests of
any kind.

The judge's extreme decision left everyone somewhat perplexed,
including the prosecuting attorney, himself, who had requested only an
18-month sentence with credit for time already served (seven months).
Despite pleas from both attorneys for leniency, Judge Nakamura
sentenced 24-year-old Sequoia Heuer to 10 years in the state

This situation becomes acute when one realizes that Sequoia would have
to serve out this sentence in a facility that has a reputation for
gang activity and racially biased violence. I personally feel that the
use, sale, production of all illegal drugs is, singularly, the most
critical problem currently facing our community today. I also firmly
believe that laws to combat such action should be strict and severe.
For this reason, I commend Judge Nakamura for sending a message to
anyone who engages in such illicit behavior and wholeheartedly agree
with his condemnation.

The real issue, however, that concerns me, is the motivation behind
such a staid sentence. From what I understand, the court is fully
aware that Sequoia's father is the actual perpetrator of this crime.
Also, it appears that they are aware that Sequoia has had little or no
contact with his father who has been incarcerated for the better part
of the past 10 years. Why, then would the state impose such a harsh
sentence on this criminal's son?

Evidently the father, Mark Heuer, unlike his son, Sequoia, was not
caught with a substantial amount of contraband in order to prosecute
him to any degree. Clearly, the state needed the son's testimony
against his own father, otherwise they didn't have much of a case.
Against the advise of his own attorney, Oahu-based Myles Breiner,
Sequoia chose not to testify against his own father, knowing that it
would make his dad a three-time offender and he might never see him

While I understand the court's frustration in this matter, I feel the
reasoning behind such a severe sentence a bit flawed. A callous
sentence administered to the son in order to convince him to
compromise his father seems extreme.

What advantage is there for the state to pursue this course of

At best, it will simply embitter a young man but at worst, it could
turn him towards a life of crime.

And in the end, we all lose.

Bob Nelson,

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