Monday, July 27, 2009

Beating Up On Plaxico Buress

I have been reading with disgust about the treatment given to Plaxico Burress by the Manhattan District Attorney, Robert Morgenthau. According to the New York Post, the Plaxico Burress legal team had agreed to a year in jail for the incident in which Buress shot himself in the thigh in a Manhattan night club. The New York Post reports as follows on Robert Morgenthau and the publicity he has managed to extract from an unfortunate gun accident in November of 2008.

Negotiations in the gun-possession case against ex-Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress -- who accidentally shot himself in the leg at a Midtown nightclub last November -- fell apart earlier this year after prosecutors insisted he do two years' state time on a plea to a lesser gun charge, the DA told The Post.

The Super Bowl XLII star was willing to bite the bullet and do jail time, but he wouldn't agree to more than a year, the DA said.

"We've always taken the position that he's going to have to go to jail, whether by trial or by plea," the legendary DA -- who retires at year end after 34 years in office -- said, breaking his public silence about the case."

There are so many mitigating factors in the Burress case. First, he had a Florida permit for his gun, which unfortunately had expired. He was living in an area in which he felt he needed protection, in a state where you don't need political connections to pack heat.

He caused himself serious injury that was both medical and financial. His gun went off by accident. He was not threatening anyone or attacking anyone. A man who causes himself serious and painful injury in accidental shooting does not need a jail term to remind himself of the stupidity of mishandling a gun. If his leg weren't in such bad shape, I am sure he would kick himself for losing a $35 million dollar contract.

Robert Morgenthau, a mediocre District attorney is plainly grandstanding. He is using Burress to show that everyone gets equal treatment in the Manhattan justice system. I am not impressed. Burress was clearly stupid, and should have had training in handling a gun. But plenty of famous and well connected people in New York get concealed carry permits. A hard working bodega owner who needs to protect himself usually has to break the law to do so.

I want to hear what Morgenthau is doing to get some of the wilder parts of Manhattan under control. He pulled out all the stops to nail Bernard Goetz, who shot five thugs who were trying to rob him on a New York City Subway in 1984. New Yorkers from all five boroughs phoned in fake tips about Bernie Goetz sightings. Yet common people who are victims of violent crime are treated like cattle.

I think Plaxico Burress should get lessons in how to handle a gun. He should probably pay a fine. But he is not a bad man, and he should not spend a day in jail. The financial losses and serious gunshot wound sustained by Buress underscore sufficiently the cause of justice.

Robert Morgenthau has in his waning years found a way to remain in the limelight. It is a pity and a waste of time for this never-has-been of a District Attorney to be extracting photo ops from this unfortunate incident.

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