Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Rumors about Kisha's Plea Deal

“Trying to squash a rumor is like
trying to unring a bell.”
~ Shana Alexander

Why don't people understand the dangers of stirring the pot with unconfirmed information? Because of one post on a Facebook wall, various blogs are reporting that Kisha was offered a plea deal and as a result, there's speculative outrage exploding all over the Internet - WITHOUT FACTS. I was able to ascertain the source, because "reporters" are misspelling arraignment.

Bear in mind that the authors of most online blogs and articles are not bona fide news reporters. Anyone with an email account can put up a byline on Examiner or start a blog and present a point of view or opinion, under the guise of reporting facts or alleged truth-telling. Heck, you should even take my blog with a grain of salt, as it's merely my perspective on the situation, albeit an educated opinion.

A plea deal can be presented at any time, in any case, by either side. It's possible the Prosecutor offered a plea to avoid going to trial, because they know they'll have a hard time getting a conviction in court. Trials cost money, and the Prosecutor's office said they feel that the case of "Patrick the dog" and his alleged abuser, isn't high profile or as important as a case involving a human being. It makes sense that the Prosecutor wants this case off their docket... IF the rumor of a plea offer is true.

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office (ECPO) has withheld relevant information along the way, so it's difficult to believe what is said. It's been reported that Kisha Curtis pled not guilty to "two counts" in November, even though she was only charged with "one count." Therefore, the article reporting that can't even get their facts straight. And Kathy (ECPO) had told me that no plea had been entered. So who even knows what the truth is?

Kathy also said this case isn't a priority since it doesn't involve a human. (Don't even get me started on that comment, as that would lead to a full-on rant.) Is it possible they don't want us to have timely info because protests might be staged? Was Kisha's November appearance via video, because so many are calling for her death?

It's not a stretch to posit that Kisha and her attorney might agree to a guilty plea if the ECPO reduces the charges to a misdemeanor with community service. I can't imagine anyone switching to a guilty plea on a felony, because being a convicted felon ruins your life.

It's more likely, based on intelligent analysis, that IF any plea deal was proffered, it was done so by the ECPO. Tendering of such a deal does not ensure its acceptance. Until Kisha's court appearance on January 20, it may be a wait-and-see situation. In addition, the Judge is not obliged to approve a plea deal.

But let's say, for a moment, that a plea deal is on the table. Then there IS something we can do. As a community, we can all make it clear to the Judge that we vehemently oppose any deal that doesn't impose the maximum allowable sentence. Let's hold off on inundating Judge Cassini with letters, calls, faxes, petitions and protests, until we know more.

Here is what I suggest - everyone just CHILL OUT until there are FACTS. Getting crazy over rumors is unproductive. Once we know what's going on, we can figure out a plan of action. If there is a plea deal on the table, let's find out what it is. Remember, going to trial to pursue a guilty verdict beyond a reasonable doubt is a tenuous road. A jury could find her not guilty and Kisha would get off without any punishment at all. Incarceration is unlikely.

I'd love to see the GSVS file a civil lawsuit against Kisha for her to make restitution for all costs related to Patrick. That kind of case has a lower burden of proof, and even if she can't repay the costs, she'd have a judgment on her credit report. They could garnish her future wages.

Instead of obsessing over what may or may not happen with Kisha, energy needs to be focused on changing animal abuse laws, so the next Patrick gets justice. This case is a wakeup call regarding the inadequate laws. We must educate and raise awareness related to animal abuse.

Many feel that Patrick's story should have been the one to bring about change, and if Kisha isn't severely punished, that somehow it was all for nothing. I DISAGREE. Patrick's story is not the first, and it is not unique. There are thousands of Patricks EVERY DAY, all sorts of animals (not just dogs) being maimed, starved, tortured and abused. His story is merely the story that got YOUR attention in a big way.

By the way, to be honest, I'm uncomfortable associating with anyone who calls for violence, bringing physical harm or the death penalty to Kisha. Such dangerous threats have a negative consequence and that attitude reflects poorly on what we're trying to achieve.

Let's focus on the good that came from it -- because Patrick was found, he is now in the loving care of the Scavelli's and will have a long life. Also, because of Patrick, thousands of people worldwide came together, with the common goal of changing the landscape of animal welfare.

Don't lose sight of the big picture! Patrick's story is a catalyst for change. But change comes in small increments, and not instantaneously overnight. We can't do much about Kisha Curtis... but we can put together organized campaigns for better laws.

Stay tuned. My next blog post will talk more about that. Remember, my blog commentaries and analyses are also speculation, opinion and inference.

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the author.