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Degenerate Culture Breeds Degenerate Lawyering

Victor Davis Hanson's essay begins bad and gets a lot worse:

Every once in a while, a criminal case...reflects the immoral course of our current trajectory. Here is an ongoing local criminal case that pretty much sums up what is happening to our culture, laws, and society at large.

Perla Ibeth Vazquez, 27, is now on trial in these parts. On Oct. 21, 2011 (a mere two-and-a-half-years ago?), she was drunk, drove, and killed, according to the Fresno Bee, one "Frank Winslow, 54, a family man and truck driver for Foster Farms who was only a few miles from home when he was killed on Highway 168 near Ashlan Avenue."

The Bee added that the local prosecutor, Steven Wright:

[L]aid the groundwork by telling the jury that Vazquez had pleaded guilty to drunken driving in Tulare County in 2006 and again in Fresno County in 2010. Each time, a judge warned her that if she got drunk and killed someone, she could be charged with murder, Wright said.

Should we laugh or cry at those long-ago judicial "each time" warnings -- given that they assumed that two felony drunk driving convictions were not necessarily reason to think there would be a fated third or fourth? A judge warns her about her own murdering to come? Might he have warned all of us about being her murdered victims to come? 

Did I promise it would get worse?

Some of you are wondering how someone, who in the last eight years has been convicted of two DUIs, can still be on the road. Brace yourself. The truth gets worse in our current lawless society that has become a veritable Road Warrior apocalyptic nightmare.

The Bee account continues:

Wright also told the jury about another incident. In August 2010, just 11 days after she pleaded guilty to her second DUI, the California Highway Patrol caught Vazquez driving 120 mph on a local highway. Her breath smelled of alcohol, her speech was slurred, and she did poorly on a sobriety test, so the officer arrested her, Wright said. But she was never charged.

At this point,  I pose the following questions to readers. What would happen to any of you if you were pulled over going 120 mph, following two prior DUI convictions? And what would happen if you "did poorly on a sobriety test"? And what does that mush-mouth word "poorly" mean? Flunked? Sort of flunked? Kinda flunked? Jails are too crowded for those who don't pass out?

But wait, we are a long way from done.

So she was arrested on suspicion of her third DUI, and was let go after being arrested noticeably drunk and traveling 120 mph? Whoever dropped the case should be summarily put on leave, given that he or she is directly responsible for the subsequent death of Mr. Winslow -- after Ms. Vazquez had been convicted of prior DUIs, warned by a judge, and then not charged after hitting 120 mph. 

Just so.  How on earth does that case not get charged?  Was the prosecutor as drunk as Ms. Vazquez?

But it's the defense lawyer who takes the cake as the symbol of how listless, foolish, morally rudderless and, yes, degenerate the law has become.

The Bee story continues:

In defending Vazquez, DeOcampo told the jury that his client was a hard worker and had a job before her arrest in connection with Winslow's death. He also said Vazquez was an alcoholic, an addiction that came from being molested as a child by a baby-sitter and a feeling of being unloved by a stepfather.

So here is her defense against the charge of vehicular murder:

She had a job once. Apparently, being employed is now not normally expected, but so aberrant to the degree that it counts as a plus in our current culture where millions have ceased working.

Then we hear that she is an alcoholic. But what does "is an alcoholic" mean versus "drinks whenever she wishes and gets into a car"?

Apparently that fact of drinking alcohol to excess is not a personal pathology for which she is morally culpable, but more an "addiction." But it is not even an addiction, given that she was not responsible for drinking herself into a stupor, getting into a car, and serially speeding, knocking cars about as she went.

And it gets still worse, but I'll leave it to readers to finish the essay for themselves if they care to.

Just to be clear, the reason I say that this is a story of degeneracy is that, in a society with anything serious remaining of standards of behavior, it would be impossible for a lawyer to get up in court  --  or get up anywhere  --  and say that running down another human being while you're drunk as a skunk is to be excused because the thoroughly adult person who did it (1) formerly had a job, (2) tanked down booze because she was "molested as a child by a baby-sitter," and (3) had "a feeling of being unloved by a stepfather."

Is there anything, anything at all, that minimal standards of decency or  --  dare I say it  --  a conscience, will prevent a defense lawyer from saying?

Hat tip to reader TarlsQtr.

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