If you’re a veteran police officer who beats, chokes, and sexually assaults a prisoner in the State of Idaho, you can anticipate a wrist-slap so trivial as to defy detection by the human nervous system.
If, on the other hand, you’re a law-abiding, 66-year-old retired nun, who — in the sanctuary of the jury room — expresses the view that a juror’s first allegiance is to God and the truth, you can expect to be charged with felonious perjury.
You can expect the same state Attorney General who displayed torpid indifference in prosecuting the abusive police officer to pursue you hammer and tongs. You can anticipate that the AG will make it a priority to put you in prison for the supposed crime of behaving like a conscientious citizen and carrying out the fundamental duty of a juror: Forcing the State to prove its case against a defendant, and voting to acquit if you’re honestly convinced that the case hadn’t been made. And if that AG had his way, you would probably spend the rest of your life in prison.
Kevin Buttars, formerly of the Montpelier Police, didn’t escape punishment entirely for his March 2007 assault on Jared Finley. He will spend about two weeks in the local jail, and was stuck with a $500 fine and court costs of about $75. He will also be on probation for a year. This sentence — imposed for a crime that involved physical battery and a sexual assault — is much lighter than what the typical Idahoan would receive for driving with a suspended license.
To understand the magnitude of the break Buttars was cut by Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, one need only learn that the prescribed sentence for the crime of “unnecessary assault by a police officer” — which is a misdemeanor (!) — is a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
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