“Mean spirited” is a phrase we have come to associate with Sarah Palin. Palin is quick to say that someone else is mean spirited, but of course she doesn’t consider her own 36 specific criticisms of President Obama to be mean spirited In the case of David Kernell, Palin was asked if in her opinion the charges against Kernell were excessive. Palin answered by saying that there should be “consequences” for bad behavior. David Kernell is 22 years old and facing up to 50 years in prison, for allegedly hacking into Sarah Palin’s personal Yahoo e-mail account. There is not even an allegation that Kernell did anything other than make Palin’s personal e-mails a matter of public record. For example, there is no allegation that he falsified anything Palin said or wrote, and there is no allegation of modifying any pictures that were in her private account. Compare the potential penalty of up to 50 years in prison for Kernell, to other potential criminal penalties in Tennessee. For example in Tennessee, the penalty for distributing child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 15 years. Even more demonstrative is the Tennessee law that imposes a minimum sentence of 25 years for a person convicted of the rape of a child. The criminal charges filed against David Kernell carry a potential sentence of twice as long as he would face if he had raped a child. Somehow the rape of a child seems to me to be more “mean spirited” than hacking into an e-mail account.
If Kernell were to be found guilty and imprisoned for the maximum amount of time allowed by law he would be 72 years old when released from prison, if he lived that long. In essence Kernell is facing life in prison for an inconvenience to the Palin family and causing Bristol to be without her cell phone for “weeks”. Fifty years in prison for making something that is supposed to be private, available to the public, is obviously wrong. However it is equally obvious those 50 years in prison for such an offense is excessive. Palin sounds spiteful and vengeful, when she suggests that the charges are not excessive, and that there should be consequences for “bad behavior”. In the case of Palin’s sister-in-law, who was charged with burglary of a private residence, and who pled guilty, Diana is only required to serve 15 months. Burglary of a residence seems much more egregious to me than hacking to a personal e-mail account.
In her interview on Friday, following the testimony she gave in the criminal case against Kernell, Palin demonstrated her assumption, once again, that any person accused of a crime is guilty as charged, even though he has pled “not guilty”, and even though a judge or jury has not determined guilt or innocence.
If Palin were a Constitutional law professor she would understand that the U.S. Constitution requires the presumption of innocence. If Palin had attended any law school surely she would understand that the presumption of innocence is an ancient tenet of Criminal Law, and that Due Process under our Constitution has been found to be critically important to our concept of fundamental fairness. Taylor v. Kentucky, 436 U.S. 478, 98 S. Ct. 1930, 56 L. Ed. 2d 468 ). Palin seems to be comfortable knowing how we should treat alleged criminals in our judicial system, because she of course has a connection to God, which makes her incapable of making a mistake. If she thinks a person is guilty as charged, because she is divinely inspired by God, then we could reduce the national debt by simply asking Sarah Palin what she thinks we should do. If Sarah Palin, the one divinely inspired, says that someone is guilty, why incur the expense of a lengthy trial? Sarah could determine the guilt or innocence and how long the person should serve in prison. Then the only remaining question would be the fee that would be charged by Palin for her time. Maybe we wouldn’t reduce the national debt, but we could certainly experience more expeditious handling of our criminal matters. Under this system, I feel confident that I would be charged with an act of terrorism, by virtue of writing for Huffington Post, and you would be guilty for reading it. Palin would sentence me for life. Thank God, that is not the way our government works, at least not yet.