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Italian justice system has good intentions but bad consequences

Tuesday, April 2, 2013
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Italian justice system has good intentions but bad consequences

Re March 28 AP article, “Amanda Knox case puts Italian justice system under scrutiny”: Was Dante writing about the Italian criminal justice system when he wrote of Limbo, the first circle of Hell, in his “Inferno?” No, he couldn’t have. That was 700 years ago. But he certainly appears prophetic today in light of the recent developments in the never-ending Amanda Knox case. Those current machinations highlight the contrasts in our justice systems.

Their criminal procedures allow for seemingly innumerable appeals of decisions adverse to either side, ostensibly to ensure justice, which is always good. Here, however, our freedoms, and our sense of justice, are better enhanced by a conception of due process that permits the state but one opportunity for a conviction.

If error occurs, our system places its onus on the prosecution, spreading out the possible injustice among the vast citizenry in a way that better provides for our constitutional promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But in Italy, even their highest appellate court can “overturn” an “acquittal.”

Their system was created with the good intention of protecting them from a resurgence of the tyrannies suffered during the fascism of Mussolini. It was a new system reborn in the enlightened attitudes that allowed the Renaissance to arise from the Dark Ages —attitudes for which they should be praised. But the Italians have gone overboard in their zeal. Leaving disputes interminably unresolved, be they criminal or civil, not only smacks of “domani” over decisiveness, but itself creates injustice.

Our system is more enlightened. Our English common law sense of due process provides protections against double jeopardy, where guarantees of individual freedom are better weighed against the collective interests of society.

Add to the newer Italian judicial system’s absurd ability to overturn an acquittal the curious facts, among others, that the city of Milan alone has more lawyers than in all of France and that it takes an average of seven years to resolve a civil dispute, and you arrive at our latest oxymoron: Italian justice.

Tom Hefferon

Rotterdam

Schoharie’s ‘insurrection’ in best Amercian tradition

“Insurrection” in Schoharie, you’re damn right [March 20 editorial]! If you really knew what that word meant and what is at stake, you would applaud us instead of looking down your nose upon us.

Let me remind you that the proverbial “shot heard round the world” was at one time considered an insurrection by a bunch of snot-nosed, ungrateful rabble. Yet, out of that rebellion against a tyrant, was born the greatest nation on earth, wherein a person of the humblest beginnings could pursue the American dream free from oppression.

So I submit to you that the people of Schoharie Valley, and over 50 other counties in New York state that have passed similar resolutions/legislation, are keeping with the best of American traditions and standing up for not only their constitutional rights but human rights. We would all be wise to learn the lessons of history and remember that without the ability to defend ourselves by force, we will be forced to be silent. In other words, without the Second Amendment there will be no First Amendment.

Further, the so called SAFE Act will protect no one. It is flawed on every level. The crazy people that have committed mass murders in the recent past have used guns, swords, bombs, cars, and even planes.

The common thread with all these events has not been the objects of destruction but the fact that these people are crazy. So if we really want to deal with the real problem, let’s face the mental health issue head on.

Jeff Senecal

Schoharie

Cautious approach to fracking still in order

I read your March 26 editorial [“Latest news on fracking front”] on fracking and it agreed very closely with my position that we may be finally resolving this stalemate.

I have written and spoken to continue the ban until the air- and water-related issues are resolved to the greatest extent practical (nothing is without some risk), and we don’t do more damage to people and the environment than the benefit of cheap natural gas.

What I didn’t realize when I read the March 21 AP article [“Tougher fracking standards set”] was that the environmental organization involved has little credibility with more respected environmental groups.

I still hope something good will come of it, but I fully agree with your philosophy that the finally agreed upon regulations [should be] mandatory and the “floor,” not the performance goal. Very good editorial.

Tom Donohue

Niskayuna

Cuts to the developmentally disabled are a prime example of what happens when governmental representatives “of the people” do more to represent the status of their own powerful positions and the interests of their political benefactors. But this cut is a truly shameful blot on the place conscience ought to occupy.

The attempted palliative, paraphrasing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in the March 29 Gazette — that he hopes trimming administrative costs and new federal money could avoid hurting programs — is a harsh joke. These budget cuts hurt people, not “programs.”

Administrative cuts that might help [would be] to the positions of governors, legislators and politicians of both parties who vote with unjust priorities, or who, in back rooms, render the whole representative body impotent. (Thank you, Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, for your work in support of publicly financed campaigns — an axe to the root of this problem.)

“We accomplished a lot of things we wanted to accomplish.” Well, indeed you did, Speaker Silver, Gov. Cuomo, [Senate Majority Leader] Dean Skelos and Sen. Jeff Klein — with terrible consequences to some of the most vulnerable among us.

Joanne Mann

Rotterdam

The day the music died at Annie Schaffer Center

It is now over 10 years the Annie Schaffer Senior Center has been closed here in the city of Schenectady. The building is still there — vacant. I don’t know who the owner is, and I have no idea what the condition of the interior [is]. I do know that Schenectady seniors are devoid of some 70 programs which were well attended.

I joined the center in 1980-81. I joined its concert orchestra and later the big swing band in 1991. Both venues performed seasonal events. The band played benefits outside the center for groups at Proctors and the Marriott Hotel. The band also played the old wooden Music Haven at Central Park and was one of the first to perform in the newly constructed bandstand.

The closing of the center also put a stop to the card playing, pool playing, wood shop, arts, painting, tap dancing, Monday night dancing with the sextet, tax help and oh so many other activities.

The out-of-town home of the orchestra and band is now the Shenendehowa Senior Center in Clifton Park. Not quite so handy for Schenectadians, but Clifton Parkers are quite pleased.

The wind from Washington D.C. didn’t blow any stimulus to our area to help our senior center. Reminds me of the wind of this 90-year-old; it doesn’t quite reach the bell of my saxophone any more. Sadddd!

Raymond Franklin

Schenectady

Physician assistants deserve recognition, too

The March 27 opinion piece [“Nurse practitioners are sometimes all you need”] by Froma Harrop correctly cited the contributions of nurse practitioners to the U.S. health care system.

I would like to add to that a recognition of the 83,500 physician assistants [PAs] in the United States, of whom 7,000 practice in New York state. PAs are educated to work in all areas of medicine including adult and pediatric primary care, as well as all medical and surgical sub-specialties. All are state-licensed and work under the general supervision and license of a physician.

You will find PAs in doctors’ offices, hospitals and long-term care facilities. Many local medical practices have realized the efficiencies and economic benefits of employing PAs, and many local patients have enjoyed the personal attention and excellent medical care provided to them by the members of the profession I proudly call my own.

Lyn I. Kucij

Schenectady

Lock 7 just fine from fisherman’s perspective

This is regarding the March 21 editorial [“Lock 7 dam fix should be focus of symposium”] that talked about doing some type of changes to the structure.

Please don’t mess with the lock! The Walleyes were hitting great below the dam this winter.

Ray Guzewski

Schenectady

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comments

April 2, 2013
7:59 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Some very good well thought out letters today. Bravo.

April 2, 2013
8:12 a.m.
muggy says...

Joanne. Did you happen to notice that our newly minted Assemblyman, Angelo Santabarbara voted AGAINST the amendment to put funding back into the budget for the developmentally disabled? What an outrage.

April 2, 2013
9:05 p.m.
Newsworthy says...

Fisherman's perspective seems a bit selfish. You really don't want to take constructive action that may save many people from the damages of flooding, just so you can rip open the mouth of a fish with a hook? I bet you don't live in the Stockade.

April 4, 2013
4:12 p.m.
Mallory says...

Muggy perhaps he voted against the amendment because instead of trying to make a publicity stunt, he fought to get $30 Million (plus $30 Million in matching funds) put back in the budget?

I can't believe that you would question Santabarbara on this issue when his son is autistic...

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