[Editor’s Note: In separate responses submitted via email, Lafayette attorneys Alfred Boustany II and Thomas Guilbeau weigh in on The IND’s online story last week, “Judge Ed Rubin was go-to guy in tainted OWI cases.” Their letters, in their entirety, appear below.]
The media coverage surrounding the convictions of three people employed by the District Attorney’s Office has called into question the process of allowing deserving first criminal offenders to quickly admit a mistake and take early steps to rehabilitate. This process recognizes the basic fact that we can all make a mistake but if we learn from that mistake and pay our debt to society, we should not have this one mistake haunt us for the rest of our lives. It is the essence of rehabilitation and forgiveness, and has been — and should continue to be — a part of the American system of criminal justice.
Article 894 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure recognizes this process of rehabilitation and forgiveness for first offenders. Article 894 allows a judge to defer imposition of a criminal sentence and place a deserving offender on probation. At the completion of the sentence, the judge can set aside the conviction and dismiss the prosecution. The record of the arrest and prosecution can then be removed from the public record.
In prosecutions for first offense operating a vehicle while intoxicated, mental health professionals, prosecutors and judges recognize the importance of beginning substance abuse and driver improvement programs immediately after an arrest. This early intervention benefits society and the offender, and often prevents repeat offenses.
15th Judicial District Judge Ed Rubin
But mental health professionals, prosecutors and judges also know that substance abuse offenders must often be coaxed into quickly beginning rehabilitation and treatment programs. So as an incentive to early intervention, some prosecutors and judges began offering an early disposition of the case. That early disposition came in the form of an immediate set aside of a conviction if, on the date of the offender’s conviction, the offender had already completed a substance abuse program, driver improvement program, and other special conditions of a typical probation. Most mental health professionals, prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys saw this as a productive and positive process.
As with most good programs, some enterprising, dishonest people found a way to corrupt the system. But the problem is not the system. The problem lies with the parties who took advantage of the good intentions of a few good people. And the blame lies not with the decent, hardworking prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges but with those few dishonest people who corrupted the process for personal gain.
In the media coverage of the recent convictions one reporter disparagingly referred to one judge as the “go to” judge for getting this process done. But the facts are that over the years many good, decent, and honest judges like him across this state recognized the importance of this process and encouraged the early intervention into the lives of those deserving offenders. These “go to” judges did this not for personal gain but because rehabilitation and forgiveness for deserving offenders has always been a part of the American system of criminal justice. As a society that believes in rehabilitation and forgiveness we should hope it remains that way.
Alfred F. Boustany II ________________________________________________________________
Please accept this as a response to your recent article implying that Judge Edward Rubin may have been guilty of unethical behavior or bad judgment in the recent controversy over “immediate 894 O.W.I. sessions.”
Nothing could be further from the truth as Judge Rubin acted in good faith and totally within the letter of the law and judicial ethics when he took those matters up and properly granted to the individuals the relief they were fully entitled to under the law. Indeed not to grant the relief sought would have been improper so Judge Rubin was simply carrying out the duty he is charged with under the law to be fair and impartial to all parties appearing before him.
District Attorney Mike Harson has made it clear that ALL of the legal requirements were fulfilled in ALL of the cases in question and nothing improper was done by Judge Rubin or his staff in this controversy. The wrong doers in this affair have been charged by the federal authorities and they do not include Judge Rubin.
Judge Rubin has served with distinction and honor for 20 years on the district bench. He is a graduate of Paul Breaux High School, and received his undergraduate and law degrees from Southern University. Upon graduation from law school, he taught business Law at Southern University and is a former assistant parish attorney for Lafayette Parish.
He is a man who has always conducted himself in the highest professional and ethical manner in a 40-year career of public service and to infer anything less than honesty and integrity with his name is simply wrong and unfair. Thomas E. Guilbeau
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.