Letters to the Editor

Barry is no felon

I believe the Oct. 16 opinion article (“Some Thoughts About GW, the SA and D.C.,” The GW Hatchet, p.5), illustrates one point I have been trying to make in my efforts to restore a statutory right to a jury trial for most misdemeanors in D.C. To support a statement that the District is the place to go to get away with crime, the article stated: “We’ve still got a former felon for a mayor…” If you are going to label someone a felon, you should be sure they are.

I believe the mayor was convicted of possession of cocaine, a misdemeanor. Misdemeanant or felon, what’s the difference, you may say, either designation serves to discredit, which is what the author was trying to do.

In the District, as recently as 1994, we had a statutory right to a jury trial for most misdemeanor offenses, where a representative group from the community would decide if a person was guilty. Statistics from Superior Court show that the conviction rate for non-jury trials is nearly double that for jury trials (73 percent vs. 40 percent, respectively). There is legislation pending before the City Council to do away with jury trials for the three remaining misdemeanors for which a defendant still gets a jury.

Back when the mayor was tried, the community played a role in his misdemeanor conviction. Both he and a growing number of those convicted without a jury, will find themselves subject to mistakes like the writer’s. A ruined reputation is difficult to overcome. Yes, citizens are concerned about crime in their city, but this does not mean the writer should label someone a felon if he is not, or that a person should be labeled a misdemeanant without a jury.

-Jim McLeoddefense attorney Pennsylvania House resident

Thanks for the tips

Last Sunday night, the brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon bravedthe rainy streets of Foggy Bottom delivering Itza Pizza to benefit Washington’s Special Olympics. GW’s generosity helped us raise more than $250 in tips for this deserving cause. The brotherhood would like to extend its most sincere thanks to the staff at the Cortille Caffe and to GW’s pizza-eating community for making our event a complete success.

-Paul GerberTKE philanthropy chair

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