[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
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.