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November 6, 2010 1:06 AM   Subscribe

A financial manager for wealthy clients [“dedicated to ultra high net worth individuals, their families and foundations”] will not face felony charges for a hit-and-run because it could jeopardize his job, prosecutors said Thursday. “Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession, and that entered into it,” [District Attorney Mark] Hurlbert said.
posted by orthogonality (155 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is from the Onion, right?
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:09 AM on November 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Welcome to the plutocracy.
posted by pjern at 1:12 AM on November 6, 2010 [22 favorites]


When a feudal lord does it, that means it's not illegal. Unless it's to another feudal lord. Then they have to work it out in their ancient tribal dispute resolution system.
posted by wuwei at 1:13 AM on November 6, 2010 [39 favorites]


So. Who's up for some class warfare.
posted by clarknova at 1:15 AM on November 6, 2010 [78 favorites]


That's nice. The wife of the former UK Prime Minister gave a violent thug a lenient sentence in her capacity as a Roman Catholic and a Judge, on the grounds that he was "a religious man" who knew it "was not acceptable behaviour".

I'm starting a list of professions for which felony convictions do NOT have some pretty serious job implications, to guide my thinking on a midlife career change I'm contemplating. I haven't thought of any, but please do chip in below ...
posted by falcon at 1:22 AM on November 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow. It seems like De Palma's 'The Untouchables' is in heavy need of a sequal.
posted by ouke at 1:27 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]




His lawyer ought to demand to present the case himself to a grand jury. When they indict, the DA may hav even more explaining to do...
posted by bugmuncher at 1:50 AM on November 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


This is pretty stomach turning. I'm all for judges and district attorneys having some discretion but this is just awful judgment. A professional's loss of license due to their acquiring a felony is, in my opinion, too harsh a punishment (I don't know if that's exactly what Mr. Erzinger faced, but it's probably analogous). But the appropriate response is a change in the rules of the professional association, or for the relevant party to make a plea for relief after conviction. Refusing to even file charges because of the status of the offender is simply shameful.

"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."
- Abraham Lincoln
posted by BigSky at 2:01 AM on November 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's surprising how often the apparatus of ostensible justice is involved in decisions that make me want to commit murder.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:03 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Too bad Erzinger didn't try to cheat in a race, then he could have gotten a felony charge.

Mark Hurlbert sure seems like a useless DA.
posted by Iax at 2:06 AM on November 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Please note that the guy he hit is a physician who does liver transplants.

Wonder what the outcome would be if he hit a vagrant or someone poor and uneducated....
posted by dibblda at 2:32 AM on November 6, 2010 [19 favorites]


Wonder what the outcome would be if he hit a vagrant or someone poor and uneducated....

i feel you. If that were the case, chances are we wouldn't be hearing about this at all
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:35 AM on November 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


Outrage aside, it seems the point of protecting the driver is to make sure he maintains an income stream that can be used to compensate the victim following a civil suit. A criminal conviction would feel nice but may leave the driver broke and the victim largely unable to collect anything. It makes sense but to me, it is downright shameful for the DA to pursue this plan of action without the blessing of the victim.
posted by ctab at 2:44 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


ctab, that essentially means a poor person goes to prison and is unable ever after to get a decent job due to a felony record, but a rich person just pays a large "fine" in the form of civil judgment? That's "equal justice under the law"?

(And in this case, I suspect that even if Erzinger were convicted after an expensive trial, he'd still have enough assets to pay a large settlement. Not to mention he may have insurance that would pay it, either driver's insurance or a more general liability policy. Hell, my friend who is a government lawyer carries personal liability insurance of a million, just in case.)
posted by orthogonality at 2:52 AM on November 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I shouldn't read shit that makes me this angry before I'm rtying to go to bed.

Please note that the guy he hit is a physician who does liver transplants.

Ahh, the piss icing on the shit cake. Parasite takes out useful member of society.
posted by rodgerd at 2:58 AM on November 6, 2010 [19 favorites]


This kind thing was/is common in the corrupt, graft ridden, third world countries with inequalities... in India alone, bigwig's sons and grandsons would literally get away with murder much less hit and runs simply based on the clout of the family. Nowadays however the proliferation of the independent media channels and penetration of the mobile phone means (taken from man on the street interviews on the impact of mass communication on the lower income demographic) that someone who faces or observes injustice feels empowered (given a voice) to call the media and train a spotlight of exposure and public shame on the wrongdoer, leading, to public outcry and far more cases of some sort of justice.

Links to some stories to illustrate the synthesis above
posted by The Lady is a designer at 3:00 AM on November 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


The next time I hear on Metafilter about how cyclists deserve to be hit by drivers, I'm posting a link to this hedge fund parasite getting a free pass, just like that Canadian lawyer parasite who was also given a free pass.

Outrage aside, it seems the point of protecting the driver is to make sure he maintains an income stream that can be used to compensate the victim following a civil suit.

I don't know. Do we really want to jeopardize this parasite's credit rating? This parasite has been through enough anguish and torment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:16 AM on November 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am so glad that America is continuing to set such a good example of Judicial fair play to other nations as can be seen by their past actions in Iraq, Aghanistan, Somalia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Cuba, Panama, Grenada and all the others I have forgotten.
It seems such an enlightened place that I feel that I should visit more often. I do love it when people come up with crap like : - A criminal conviction would feel nice but may leave the driver broke and the victim largely unable to collect anything It shows how you really appreciate law and order and that that the victim is always first in people thoughts. On preview rodgerd nails it. ( By the way ctab did you read ithis little gem in the linked article: -
Erzinger told police he was unaware he had hit Milo, court documents say.
When Avon police arrived he was putting a broken side mirror and a bumper in his trunk, court record say
. Sometimes I think a little bit of medievel public humiliation would be a good thing.
posted by adamvasco at 3:24 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sherman McCoy just said "hey, no fair"
posted by the noob at 4:07 AM on November 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is obscene! I have no idea how best to protest this, so I opted to email Frontline, 60 Minutes, and Oprah.

Laugh all you like (and I can't say I blame you, really), but at least I did something.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 4:12 AM on November 6, 2010 [31 favorites]


orthogonality: ctab, that essentially means a poor person goes to prison and is unable ever after to get a decent job due to a felony record, but a rich person just pays a large "fine" in the form of civil judgment? That's "equal justice under the law"?

There's a good debate to be had about how much the legal system should allow for flexibility to exchange social justice (in this case, a criminal conviction) for compensation to the victim (which this particular victim is less interested in), and whether the DA should be able to make that "exchange" against the victim's protests. Unfortunately your misleading FPP has caused just about every other commenter here to miss all of that and to think the DA is protecting the driver's livelihood because the driver is "too big to fail".
posted by ctab at 4:14 AM on November 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why can't the parasite both go to jail and pay out a massive civil settlement. Does he not have assets? A house?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:20 AM on November 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


Has no one any feeling for the poor victim's car? Through the perp's carelessness, a car bumper and mirror are disabled. It just shows how blatant criminal bicyclists are becoming. Damage a rich man's car? A car that no doubt enhances Erzinger's status in his high-profile, high-paying job? It is Milo who should be facing charges.
posted by telstar at 4:20 AM on November 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Here's your cross-cultural comparison tie-in: "My dad is Li Gang!"
In other news, many people in America (only not "ultra high-net-worth individuals") would probably describe the behavior of financial professionals as "hit-and-run."
posted by homerica at 4:31 AM on November 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is Milo who should be facing charges.

Considering the number of people who have been all 'apologise to me for making me step on your neck/making my husband harass you/etc.' lately, I expect to see this any day now.
posted by kalimac at 4:34 AM on November 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


The smack but a dent
Jocular shifting of gears
I'm negligent, pfft
posted by Mblue at 4:37 AM on November 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


There's a good debate to be had about how much the legal system should allow for flexibility to exchange social justice (in this case, a criminal conviction) for compensation to the victim (which this particular victim is less interested in), and whether the DA should be able to make that "exchange" against the victim's protests.

Interesting point. Sharia law (and no, I'm not suggesting Sharia be implemented in the US) actually builds this in to personal injury type cases. Victims, or victims' families in the case of loss of life, can seek monetary compensation in lieu of other punishment. But the choice is the victim's (or her/his family's), not the prosecuting authority's.
posted by bardophile at 4:39 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, Milo was on a bicycle. He was asking for it then. Case dismissed.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 4:41 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


We've seen this again and again in America over the past few years: there isn't any bailout for common homeowners, there isn't any mercy for common criminals because common poor folk aren't important enough to save.

"Too big to fail" and "too rich to jail" is our new national motto.
posted by Avenger at 4:44 AM on November 6, 2010 [31 favorites]


Perhaps you too need a branded common man, like India's "aam aadmi" (also a pun on aam = mango)
posted by The Lady is a designer at 5:00 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


ouke: "Wow. It seems like De Palma's 'The Untouchables' is in heavy need of a sequal"

So long as it isn't directed by De Palma.
posted by Red Loop at 5:13 AM on November 6, 2010


Also, when we get around to eating this guy, he will be nice and fat. Win!
posted by clvrmnky at 5:17 AM on November 6, 2010


I wouldn't have any problem with the justice system occasionally extending a little mercy like this, if there were the remotest chance in hell that it would ever be extended to regular--or god forbid, poor--folks.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 5:46 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The real criminals here are the outraged masses, who ought to be convicted of harassing a scion.
posted by fleetmouse at 5:58 AM on November 6, 2010


Oh hello there media contact list, I have something for you.

Y'all might want to do the same.
posted by The Whelk at 6:03 AM on November 6, 2010


D.A. Mark Hulbert deserves the full scrutiny of the internet 1000 times more than that bullshit cooks resource waste of time...
posted by Mick at 6:09 AM on November 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


So... I wonder how much Erzinger promised to pay the judge.
posted by lordrunningclam at 6:10 AM on November 6, 2010


D.A., I mean.
posted by lordrunningclam at 6:11 AM on November 6, 2010


Unfortunately your misleading FPP has caused just about every other commenter here to miss all of that and to think the DA is protecting the driver's livelihood because the driver is "too big to fail".

I think people "missed" this point because it's irrelevant; the victim here is a transplant surgeon, likely with excellent insurance (or possibly even free treatment if he is employed by a hospital) and not in need of compensation. Indeed, the victim and his attorney have made plain that they prefer this so-called financial manager stand trial for his crime, even if it means destitution. The "too big to fail" folks are right on this one.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:18 AM on November 6, 2010 [18 favorites]


Growing inequality, combined with a flawed system of campaign finance, risks turning America’s legal system into a travesty of justice. Some may still call it the “rule of law,” but it would not be a rule of law that protects the weak against the powerful. Rather, it would enable the powerful to exploit the weak.

In today’s America, the proud claim of “justice for all” is being replaced by the more modest claim of “justice for those who can afford it.” And the number of people who can afford it is rapidly diminishing.
Justice for Some, Joseph Stiglitz
posted by The Lady is a designer at 6:22 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously, though, the snark is so predictable as to border on parody.

So are the people complaining that snark is predictable.

What's your argument here? That because the reasons people are upset are predictable, that they should just shut up and take it? That because "the snark is predictable", that makes the act OK? Or are you just here to sneer at people who think being wealthy shouldn't be a get-out-of-jail-free card?
posted by mhoye at 6:23 AM on November 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


This is much more deserving of a pile-on than Judith Griggs. She lifted a few articles for a magazine, this guy seriously damaged someone with his car and does not get punished. Come Internet, let us draw attention to this unfairness (email, tweet, write articles, contact DA).
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 6:31 AM on November 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Just boycott Colorado altogether.
posted by fixedgear at 6:31 AM on November 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


This recently (as in today) showed up on Cyclicio.us. Where the owner of that blog is advocating boycotting Vail CO in protest.

http://www.cyclelicio.us/2010/vail-boycott-bike-race/

At the moment I need to go bike to my job at a bike shop. But, I may post something further a little later as I have more things to say than time ATM.
posted by Severian at 6:31 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Milo, 34, is a physician living in New York City with his wife and two children, where he is still recovering from his injuries, court records show.

Milo suffered spinal cord injuries, bleeding from his brain and damage to his knee and scapula, according to court documents. Over the past six weeks he has suffered “disabling” spinal headaches and faces multiple surgeries for a herniated disc and plastic surgery to fix the scars he suffered in the accident.

“He will have lifetime pain,” Haddon wrote. “His ability to deal with the physical challenges of his profession — liver transplant surgery — has been seriously jeopardized
.”


BTW I noted the victim is from New York City. I suspect that the fact he is a "back Easterner" may have something to do with how this case is being treated.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:36 AM on November 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


BTW I noted the victim is from New York City. I suspect that the fact he is a "back Easterner" may have something to do with how this case is being treated.
I'm sure it does. So does the fact that the DA has political ambitions. He tried to run for state senate as a moderate Republican this year, but the hardline conservative candidate kept him off the primary ballot. When you live in an area as wealthy as Vail, letting the rich know that you think they deserve impunity must be pretty good for political fundraising.
posted by craichead at 6:45 AM on November 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


It will be interesting to compare the outcome here to the outcome in the Judith Griggs case, as a study in how the internets function in a quasi-judicial manner. My guess is nobody's going to get the same sort of mob up for this one.
posted by warbaby at 6:48 AM on November 6, 2010


I'm going to go out on a limb here and speculate that an ultra high net worth individual pulled some strings in the DA's office. Prison is for the hoi polloi, not for our Galtian overlords.
posted by ryoshu at 6:54 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think people "missed" this point because it's irrelevant; the victim here is a transplant surgeon

Yes, it's irrelevant in this case, which led ctab to make another good point (about whether a DA should be allowed to ignore the victim's preferences). I'm all for this prick going to jail, but ctab made a fine point that many of the commenters don't seem to know, that the law allows for punishment in the form of jail time or financial compensation. I'm not sure if the law specifically prefers one over the other.

In short: miscarriage of justice by a shitty prosecutor. Not sure if it requires class warfare in response.
posted by yerfatma at 6:58 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aw, cmon. If having a shit-ton of money can't buy your way out of a felony, then what's the point of having a shit-ton of money? If this hardworking lackey of supercapitalism isn't both freed AND thrown a parade honoring his bravery in the face of incipient blind justice, then the terrorists have won.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:59 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fair enough, I guess I didn't see that people missed it so much as decided that point didn't matter here.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:04 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the DA really thinks he's doing a kindness here and for a lot of people it's easy to empathize with a bad driver and put themselves in those shoes than it is to imagine ever riding a bicycle after age 12.
posted by Skwirl at 7:06 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


'm all for this prick going to jail, but ctab made a fine point that many of the commenters don't seem to know, that the law allows for punishment in the form of jail time or financial compensation. I'm not sure if the law specifically prefers one over the other.


Tell that to someone facing a mandatory prison sentence for possession of narcotics.

(drugs are bad umm-kay, hit and run while rich; give us a little wiggle room here please!)
posted by Max Power at 7:08 AM on November 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


for a lot of people it's easy to empathize with a bad driver
He's not accused of being a bad driver. He's accused of causing an accident and then leaving a badly injured guy bleeding by the side of the road. Also, one of the reasons that people sometimes leave the scene of an accident is because they've been drinking, and they want to buy time to sober up before they confront the police. I know a lot of people believe a lot of terrible things, especially where bike riders and non-locals are concerned, but do people really have a lot of sympathy for those who commit hit and run?
posted by craichead at 7:12 AM on November 6, 2010 [18 favorites]


BTW I noted the victim is from New York City. I suspect that the fact he is a "back Easterner" may have something to do with how this case is being treated.
I'm sure it does. So does the fact that the DA has political ambitions. He tried to run for state senate as a moderate Republican this year, but the hardline conservative candidate kept him off the primary ballot. When you live in an area as wealthy as Vail, letting the rich know that you think they deserve impunity must be pretty good for political fundraising.


that something like this wouldn't sink his political chances forever is pretty sickening.
posted by Artw at 7:16 AM on November 6, 2010






"Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession"

The funny thing (not "haha" funny, but definitely "this is what's wrong with America" funny) is that the job implications for Mr. Erzinger having a felony conviction are smaller than they are for the average person. Martha Stewart went right back to work after she got out of the clink, but try getting a job at Walmart with a felony on your record....
posted by pjaust at 7:30 AM on November 6, 2010 [29 favorites]


WORTH Magazine: Profile of Martin Joel Erzinger.
posted by ericb at 7:31 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Piker. In Hawaii, you can get away with slavery if you're rich enough.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:43 AM on November 6, 2010


Martin Joel Erzinger killed a man or just injured him for life?
posted by fuq at 7:52 AM on November 6, 2010


Fitzgerald to Hemingway: the rich are different from others.
Hemingway: yes. they have more money.
posted by Postroad at 7:57 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, no, no.

Fitzgerald, in "The Rich Boy": "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.''

Hemingway, ten years later, to critic Mary Colum: "I am getting to know the rich."

Mary Colum, in reply: "The only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."

The narrator of Hemingway's "Snows of Kilimanjaro" then remembers "poor Scott Fitzgerald and his romantic awe of [ the rich ] and how he had started a story once that began, 'The very rich are different from you and me.' And how someone had said to Scott, yes, they have more money.''

Fitzgerald to Hemingway: "…lay off me in print… Riches have never fascinated me, unless combined with the greatest charm or distinction.''

William Gibson, years later: "And, for an instant, she stared directly into those soft blue eyes and knew, with an instinctive mammalian certainty, that the exceedingly rich were no longer even remotely human."
posted by kipmanley at 8:11 AM on November 6, 2010 [23 favorites]




VICTIM: “Mr. Erzinger struck me, fled and left me for dead on the highway. Neither his financial prominence nor my financial situation should be factors in your prosecution of this case.”

ASSHOLE'S LAWYER:“The money has never been a priority for them. It is for us. Justice in this case includes restitution and the ability to pay it. Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession, and that entered into it. When you're talking about restitution, you don't want to take away his ability to pay.”


I'm all for flexibility; you can't get true justice without examining each case on its own merits. But this is some fucked-up reasoning here. The pomposity is staggering. That a court would accept such an argument is even more staggering.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:17 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Cops like hit and runs. They work them hard and they clear them fast. Right now there's a BCI unit pulling paint chips off a guard rail. Tomorrow they're going to be looking for the owner of a custom-painted, hand rubbed Jaguar XJ12. And the guy you hit? If he got a look at the plates, it won't even take that long ... the math on this is simple. The smaller the mess the easier it is for me to clean up."
posted by geoff. at 8:19 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


"...Not sure if it requires class warfare in response."

I respectfully disagree. Now, where did I leave that pitchfork...

The Prosecutor has clearly shown he doesn't have what it takes to be in politics. He accidentally let a little truth slip out.
posted by Xoebe at 8:22 AM on November 6, 2010


Shit like this and the Li Gang thing make my blood boil.

> Court records say prosecutors expressed skepticism to Milo at a suggestion by Erzinger's defense attorneys that Erzinger might have unknowingly suffered from sleep apnea, and that might have made him caused him to fall asleep at the wheel and hit Milo.

Sleep apnea isn't the same as narcolepsy. Couldn't they at least have come up with a decent bullshit excuse?
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:24 AM on November 6, 2010


ASSHOLE'S LAWYER:“The money has never been a priority for them. It is for us. Justice in this case includes restitution and the ability to pay it. Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession, and that entered into it.”

That's what was so monumentally fucked up about this. It wasn't the asshole's lawyer who said that. It was the lawyer representing the people of the state of Colorado.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:25 AM on November 6, 2010


Oh, wait...they're saying he was sleepy because he had sleep apnea, not because he had an attack of it behind the wheel. Still. The idea that a DA would equate "justice" with "the defendant's ability to pay off the victim" makes me want to puke.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:33 AM on November 6, 2010


ctab made a fine point that many of the commenters don't seem to know, that the law allows for punishment in the form of jail time or financial compensation

Honest question here, I'm not familiar with the US justice system: Is the felony/misdemeanor distinction limited to picking between fine or jail time? Because I have the impression it isn't, and he's getting off much easier than he would otherwise, even if the jail term was skipped.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:38 AM on November 6, 2010


Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession, and that entered into it.

Right.

What about the job implications for the victim?

Also, how can anyone believe someone who says they didn't realize they hit someone? If Erzinger did know it and maybe was drunk and needed to sober up before police intervention, that's bad enough. But seriously, how can you hit someone and not know it? And how is it that that can be believed?

Really, this whole thing is so absurd that I initially had a hard time believing it was true. I've been trying to reform my jaded contempt for the system, but every time I see another miscarriage of justice based on status, it just sends me right back to that black pit of hopelessness again.
posted by sundrop at 8:38 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I shall contrast this with the two times I've gotten tickets while racing to my part-time job. The officers involved did not care that the fines would amount to two days pay for me, when I'm already living paycheck to paycheck.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:49 AM on November 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


Tell that to someone facing a mandatory prison sentence for possession of narcotics.

That's a false dichotomy. In fact, it's the opposite problem: in those cases the jail term is defined by the legislative branch and the judge has no leeway to change things. Of course, the prosecutor could change the charge, but you'll never get re-elected by being soft on crime, right?
posted by yerfatma at 8:54 AM on November 6, 2010


Man, what the fuck? At first I was thinking this might just be a really lenient DA (which isn't the worst thing in the world, I guess) but:
Too bad Erzinger didn't try to cheat in a race, then he could have gotten a felony charge.

Mark Hurlbert sure seems like a useless DA.
So what the fuck? He charged a woman with a felony for lying about her age in order to enter a bike race intended for people in there 40s? But someone who runs over another person (and drives off) doesn't get the charge, because it might hurt his or her job? Having a felony conviction hurts everyone's careers.

What the fuck?
Outrage aside, it seems the point of protecting the driver is to make sure he maintains an income stream that can be used to compensate the victim following a civil suit.
The guy's a banker. My guess is that he's got a nice big house and nice cars and so on.
I'm sure it does. So does the fact that the DA has political ambitions. He tried to run for state senate as a moderate Republican this year ... When you live in an area as wealthy as Vail, letting the rich know that you think they deserve impunity must be pretty good for political fundraising.
You know, I kind of wonder if electing prosecutors is a good idea. It seems like it leads to all sorts of problems like this. At the same time, I don't know that I would want them appointed by the federal government either.

Maybe we should randomly pair up countries around the country and have them elect each other's prosecutors
posted by delmoi at 8:57 AM on November 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Arrow's paradox notwithstanding, I'm predicting that this makes less of a fuss on the intertubes than theft of talent by a kitchen table publisher. We can tally up the media impact on Monday.

For reference Google news has exactly two hits on "Martin Joel Erzinger" right now.
posted by warbaby at 9:04 AM on November 6, 2010


That this happens didn't surprise me. That they had the chutzpah to admit it to the press does, and not in a good way.

I wonder if there's an ethics canon under which Erzinger can be forced out of his job. And I wonder whether Erzinger's clients want to continue to trust their money to a man whose ethics are so shitty that he'd hit a man with his car and leave him behind, seriously injured. Would you trust this guy to move your money around in your best interests, or would you expect him to cut corners that generated more fees for him?
posted by immlass at 9:08 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jesus, can we cool it with the "parasite" talk? You might have heard that there's this whole history of eliminationist rhetoric based on calling people parasites, cockroaches, etc. It's vile.
posted by Mid at 9:11 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know a lot of people believe a lot of terrible things, especially where bike riders and non-locals are concerned, but do people really have a lot of sympathy for those who commit hit and run?

Apparently, for some posters, the answer is "yes".

If the driver had been coming home after a double shift at a fast food joint, there would be no debating of circumstances or possible consequences. He would be in prison right now, and it wouldn't be on Metafilter.
posted by birdhaus at 9:17 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, wait...they're saying he was sleepy because he had sleep apnea, not because he had an attack of it behind the wheel.

And how does the theoretical sleep apnea account for his leaving the scene of the crime in order to attend to his broken mirror?
posted by steambadger at 9:17 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]




Sleep apnea isn't the same as narcolepsy. Couldn't they at least have come up with a decent bullshit excuse?


Not that it is an excuse but....if someone DOES have sleep apnea this kind of thing could happen. Before my husband's diagnosis, at times I would literally have to scratch and keep scratching his arm-almost to the point of drawing blood- to keep him awake while he drove...(yes, he should have pulled over and let me drive, but he "thought he was alright." Bullcrap.)

If you even THINK you have this get screened and get treated. Don't be this guy.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:28 AM on November 6, 2010


Rage against Griggs was driven by freelance writers. Who sit around on the internet all day writing among other things articles that end up among other places on Google News.

Rage against Erzinger right now I imagine is white-hot on cycling fora. Not so much with the Google News juice.

But if we're going to buck Arrow's Theorem and try to draw some meaning from some nigh-impossible–to–measure dichotomy (I mean, I agree, I bet from where I'm sitting the Griggs Intemperance will end up having made a much larger noise than the Erzinger Incident), I'd say it's because with Griggs everyone thought they could have some meaningful impact; with Erzinger, you're fighting the rich and City Hall. This is just how things are, like with the horrific conditions of Yankee prisons or how cops trump up charges and bully victims to juke the stats. A clueless desktop publisher being not even wrong about copyright? Heck, we can handle that. To the barricades! Someone is wrong on the internet! —The sick black rotten classist heart of everything that is wrong with the American dream? Well, hell. It sucks, sure, but what on earth can you do?

I'd much rather take solace in Arrow's Theorem, thanks. There's no telling what will spark the justice of the mob, and nothing meaningful to read from the burnt bits left behind. One of the many reasons why we shouldn't as a rule rely on pitchforks and torches. One of the many reasons why we ought to fix the system we've got instead.
posted by kipmanley at 9:31 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes yes yes, but how is the mirror?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:39 AM on November 6, 2010


Yeah this sleep apnea thing is strange, but I can see it happen.

But what is even stranger is that the justice system allows this kind of weird excuses. At least you should suffer the consequences and not be allowed to drive anymore once you enter this sort of excuse.

Same thing with drunkenness. "I was so drunk, I didn't know I was beating the other guy almost to death. I didn't mean to, really." OK, fine. But if you use this excuse, it should be no more alcohol for you, buster. For life.
posted by sour cream at 9:40 AM on November 6, 2010


[Folks, please skip the Here's Their Name And Address And Phone Number thing. Even with good intent it's a hair farther into the territory of weird Internet Mob Justice implications than we're generally comfortable with for mefi. Folks can google if they want contact info.]
posted by cortex at 9:49 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Calling someone a parasite based on their economic position and thier demonstrated (lack of) character is not comparable to slandering a whole race or religion thusly. People who are ignorant call gay men cowards, this does not make me a homophobe for commenting that this driver is demonstrably a coward, unwilling or too weak to face the consequences of his actions.

He simply is a parassite, a coward, and worse. Leave the history lesson out of it, it is irrelevent.
posted by idiopath at 9:51 AM on November 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


You might have heard that there's this whole history of eliminationist rhetoric based on calling people parasites, cockroaches, etc. It's vile.

Utter nonsense. Please move on or go to Metatalk, if the thread bothers you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:51 AM on November 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Presumably this DA would have the same concern if the perpetrator were, say, a hispanic landscaper, right? I mean his ability to provide restitution would be compromised by a felony conviction to at least the same degree -- if not far more so if we presume far fewer assets to begin with.

So under this remarkable new judicial principle, only people who don't need to work for a living should be prosecuted for this sort of offense. Well hey: there is an upside to elimination of the estate tax after all; it preserves the existence of one class of people who can still be prosecuted for a hit and run. They, along with big lottery winners, better watch how they drive!
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:52 AM on November 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Holy shit. The level of ignorance and outrage in this thread is astounding.

I wouldn't have any problem with the justice system occasionally extending a little mercy like this, if there were the remotest chance in hell that it would ever be extended to regular--or god forbid, poor--folks.

It's extraordinarily clear that you have no idea what you're talking about. The number of times a clear felony is prosecuted as a misdemeanor is simply mind-boggling. Most egregious example: I had a marijuana case where the defendant was pulled over with small plastic bags and an electronic scale with marijuana residue in addition to two pounds of marijuana. Guy got to plead to misdemeanor possession.

If you don't think job implications are something prosecutors take into account when dealing with first-time offenders who could be charged with a felony, then you don't know shit about the criminal justice system.

FWIW: Colorado's hit-and-run statute makes it a misdemeanor to leave the scene of the crime of an accident where there is personal injury. It's a low-level felony if it's "serious" injury. Pleading from serious (felony) to less serious (misdemeanor) happens all the time, including when I had a bloody-faced victim in a neckbrace from having his face smashed into the curb and the defendant got to plead to aggravated assault.
posted by thesmophoron at 10:06 AM on November 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Actually thesmophoron I think a lot of people are very much aware of the fact that what you are charged with has a huge impact on what happens to you in the criminal justice system (the moreso given mandatory minimums and such) and that what you are charged with is in the hands of people who feel themselves to be under massive pressures that grotesquely distort their decisions as to who gets charged with what.

No matter how much time and effort it might save in the short run by clearing cases and preventing debilitating trials and even in some cases actually dispensing mercy and even justice, this is all too often a bug that can be exploited by them what can. It is not a feature.
posted by kipmanley at 10:14 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a bug that the pot distribution is even a crime in the first place, but leaving someone to potentially die in the street is an actual real crime. I can't help but think it would be a lot easier to charge people for it if we didn't waste our time with victimless crimes.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:16 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Broken side mirror? That rules out Erzinger claiming he thought he ran over a dog!

It took a bit of Googling, but it looks like there's a fine line between a hit and run in Colorado being a misdemeanor and felony. Sounds like the injuries were serious, but also if you hit someone with your car, how would you know they weren't serious?
posted by Catblack at 10:17 AM on November 6, 2010


MetaFilter: It's extraordinarily clear that you have no idea what you're talking about.
posted by ericb at 10:20 AM on November 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


It looks like the justification is based on the fact that taking away his job would take away his ability to pay restitution. As a criminal defense attorney, I make this argument, to prosecutors and judges, all the time, and they frequently buy it. The other consideration is this that if you charge him with the felony, the defense is almost certain to make you try the case if only to fight the felony charge. As thesmophoron says, charging a borderline felony as a misdemeanor in order to avoid a trial is incredibly common.

It's not like the guy is getting off, he's still being charged with a crime. It also looks like he'll be pleading guilty to it, he'll have to pay restitution and presumably be on probation. Hell, the fact that he's only being charged with the a misdemeanor doesn't even mean he won't be going to jail. All in all it seems like a fair outcome to me, absent any other information (like having a prior record for anything like this).
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:33 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, Hurlbert has a track record of crap prosecutions, taking the trivial to trial, and letting the serious slide.

* Prosecuted a ski resort liftie for throwing a snowball at a co-worker, only dropping the charges after one mistrial
* Prosecuted amateur athletes for Felony Criminal Impersonation for contravening the age limit rules of a mountain bike race

But on the other hand:

* Let a drunk snowboarder who ran over an 8-year old girl in a hit and run walk with community service
* Letting the husband of a woman hospitalized with a ruptured bladder go from attempted murder to a misdemeanor
* Letting off a man who pulled half the hair out of a black woman's head dragging her along a bar floor.
posted by anthill at 10:53 AM on November 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


All in all it seems like a fair outcome to me, absent any other information

If the DA's record shows poor decision making, would you still think essentially being let off for a hit-and-run is a fair outcome?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:55 AM on November 6, 2010


In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all's equal and that the courts are on the level
And show that the strings in the books ain't pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled

posted by notion at 10:57 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Perhaps those of us who tweet can use the following tag #hitandrun to spread information about this.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 11:01 AM on November 6, 2010


Iax: "Too bad Erzinger didn't try to cheat in a race, then he could have gotten a felony charge.

Mark Hurlbert sure seems like a useless DA
"

I guess it depends how you define "useless" -- sure seems pretty useful to the rich and wealthy who probably contribute nice and finely to his campaign.
posted by symbioid at 11:23 AM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


You have the right not to be killed. Murder is a crime! Unless it was done by a policeman, or an aristocrat. Know your rights!
posted by scody at 11:42 AM on November 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Haha. What egregious nonsense. A felony charge would impair anyone's ability to pay damages. This man will not face felony charges not because it would impair his ability to pay, but because it would impair his ability to go on making money for his clients.

The victim states plainly that compensation is not the issue for him. "Milo wrote in a letter to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert that the case 'has always been about responsibility, not money.'"

The prosecutor is not brazenly candid about this injustice, as has been suggested; he is a liar. There is only one obvious reason that the felony charges have been dropped. "Erzinger manages more than $1 billion in assets."
posted by millions at 11:44 AM on November 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is transparency. Usually, the rich get out of it on a technicality. For example, "My client can't go to jail! He has arthritis and a bad back!"
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:54 AM on November 6, 2010


somehow I find this particularly annoying on a morning when my husband & I nearly got into an argument over whether or not Mehserle's sentence was appropriate...
posted by supermedusa at 12:04 PM on November 6, 2010


IIRC (when I used to work for the company that insured them), the Vail PD drives (or used to drive) Land Rovers. 'nuff said.
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:14 PM on November 6, 2010


If the DA's record shows poor decision making, would you still think essentially being let off for a hit-and-run is a fair outcome?

Of course. The fact that the DA might be bad at making these choices doesn't mean that every decision he makes is bad. Even if he's making it for the wrong reasons, it doesn't mean that he's making the wrong choice. Here(from what I understand), the DA has an easy case for a misdemeanor and a trickier case for a felony; charging the misdemeanor is the right call. Honestly, but for the DA's statement about why he did this, no one would care.

Also, what the fuck is up with saying he's "essentially getting off." Being charged with a misdemeanor is not "getting off." The difference between the two charges isn't even that big.

He's being charged with a crime that carries a minimum penalty of 18 months in jail. It carries a minimum penalty of 6 months in jail, but I assume that can be suspended. The felony carries a minimum of one year and a maximum of 3 years.

The difference between the misdemeanor and the felony here is a difference of six months on the minimum end and a year and a half on the maximum end. Considering that all or most of this sentence will likely be suspended, the choice of charge probably doesn't effect how much time he'll actually see in jail by a day.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:18 PM on November 6, 2010


Mr. Hurlbert should change the text of his online profile:

As an experienced prosecutor, Mark knows it is important not to simply secure convictions, but to seek justice. He makes victims a priority and is dedicated to providing victims a strong voice in the justice system.
posted by TDIpod at 12:23 PM on November 6, 2010


Can his clients sue the DA for conspiring to prevent their background checks from revealing the felonous background of the man they trust their livelyhoods with?
posted by -harlequin- at 12:25 PM on November 6, 2010


So, we're a banana republic now? Cool! I can't wait for the flag to be changed. One big ole' banana right in the middle of the blue field.
posted by davismbagpiper at 12:33 PM on November 6, 2010


What's your argument here? That because the reasons people are upset are predictable, that they should just shut up and take it? That because "the snark is predictable", that makes the act OK? Or are you just here to sneer at people who think being wealthy shouldn't be a get-out-of-jail-free card?

None of the above; my point is that the snark should have more bite than the cafe communist aphorisms that seem in such abundant supply lately - although I apologize to Cortex for going too far in handing out the guy's home phone number.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:41 PM on November 6, 2010


You might have heard that there's this whole history of eliminationist rhetoric based on calling people parasites, cockroaches, etc. It's vile.

First they came for the rich assholes, and I did not speak out...
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 12:45 PM on November 6, 2010


All the lawyers in here arguing the justice of this travesty says a lot more about how broken the American legal system is than the actual case itself.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:14 PM on November 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


As someone hit by a car while on a bike (twice, once badly, but not hit and runs), I gotta say I'm not that upset the guy's getting charged with a misdemeanor. I feel for Milo, but a felony conviction (vs. a misdemeanor) is not going to help him, imo.

It sounds like the driver was drunk, but you gotta assume they tested? Curious the story doesn't mention it.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:36 PM on November 6, 2010


It looks like the justification is based on the fact that taking away his job would take away his ability to pay restitution.

Yeah, the "justification". The guy manages a billion dollars you don't think he doesn't have any money in the bank? Ye lives in Vail. How much do you think his house is worth?

It sounds like the driver was drunk, but you gotta assume they tested?

How do you test with a hit and run?
posted by delmoi at 2:23 PM on November 6, 2010


but a felony conviction (vs. a misdemeanor) is not going to help him, imo.

I once had a woman drive right over me in an intersection after the light changed to green. Witnesses had to chase her and make her stop. Her argument when the police came was that I was "on her road". She honestly failed to grasp that I had a right to be there, and couldn't understand why anyone would care that she had just deliberately run down a cyclist, because after all "she was in a hurry" and I was "in her way".

Criminal sanctions are not designed to help victims, they are designed to deter people from committing crimes. As a cyclist who has been hit by cars myself, I don't want privileged dipshits like her and this guy thinking that running over bicyclists is something that they can get away with.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:26 PM on November 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


First they came for the rich assholes, and I did not speak out...

Bear in mind that you're richer than 90 percent of the world before you start intensifying "asshole" with "rich."
posted by Etrigan at 2:57 PM on November 6, 2010


Unfortunately your misleading FPP has caused just about every other commenter here to miss all of that and to think the DA is protecting the driver's livelihood because the driver is "too big to fail".

Except, I don't think (as I argued up-thread) that the DA isn't prosecuting in order to protect the victim's ability to get a settlement. In fact the victim doesn't buy that argument either.

I think it's pure cronyism. And I think everyone reading the linked article can make his or her own judgment.
posted by orthogonality at 3:01 PM on November 6, 2010


All the lawyers in here arguing the justice of this travesty says a lot more about how broken the American legal system is than the actual case itself.

Right, because, the real weakness of the American justice system is that we are too light on criminals. Favoritism toward the wealthy IS a weakness, but this is a really poor example of it. The prosecution choosing to go forward on an easier to prove misdemeanor rather than the borderline felony is not news, it happens all the time to people of all wealth and social classes including many of my clients at the public defender's office. That a decision to exercise prosecutorial discretion was made IN PART because of the effect the prosecution could have on the defendant's job is also fairly typical in our system and happens to plenty of defendants, rich or poor.

Also, when a group of people who actually have knowledge and expertise on an subject come in and try to explain something to you, be sure to dismiss them.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:16 PM on November 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Bear in mind that you're richer than 90 percent of the world before you start intensifying "asshole" with "rich."

It's obvious that the reference is relative to folks in the U.S. of A.

Eat your green beans! There are children starving in Asia who would kill for your meal!
posted by ericb at 3:22 PM on November 6, 2010


Bulgaroktonos, I appreciate your informed comment. Don't let the pile-on discourage you.

Being familiar with American law, how does this "prosecutorial discretion ... because of the effect the prosecution could have on the defendant's job" thing work? Is it judged as relative to society at large, or relative to the defendant's current situation?

Taking examples from upthread, if I have a crap job that barely pays my bills, that I had to try very hard to get, would prosecutorial discretion give me no credit, because it's a crap job and there are many better? If my daddy got me a nice job as a middle manager in one of his companies, would i get lots of lenience, because it's a great job?

As asked above, is there *anyone* whose job would not be affected by being prosecuted? So only housekeepers, the independently wealthy, and the unemployed won't get leniency?
posted by anthill at 4:13 PM on November 6, 2010


Also, when a group of people who actually have knowledge and expertise on an subject come in and try to explain something to you, be sure to dismiss them.

I think people were reacting more against your rude and demeaning tone than against the fruit of your expertise. I think you missed a good opportunity here.
posted by applemeat at 4:30 PM on November 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


As pjaust and delmoi alluded to, the particularly galling aspect to this incident is where the D.A. implied that a felony conviction would have harsher consequences for a financial manager (identified with other wealthy professions and people) than for people working in other professions and jobs (identified with the rest of us peons). And that's even before you look at Hurlbert's record. Regardless of how common this sort of choice by a D.A. is, that's the crucial point that indicates that classism is playing a role in this particular case.

(By the way, I'd be interested to know the correlation coefficient between cases where prosecutors agree to try the defendant on a lesser charge and the socioeconomic standing of the defendant. Anyone have any data on this? Lawyer mefites?)
posted by eviemath at 4:41 PM on November 6, 2010


As asked above, is there *anyone* whose job would not be affected by being prosecuted? So only housekeepers, the independently wealthy, and the unemployed won't get leniency?

Actually this is kind of true, as a public defender, a lot of my clients are unemployed or work as day laborers, and this sucks for them because basically everyone who has a job they would lose if they went to jail starts with a point in their favor that a lot of my clients don't.

The other way the consideration of the defendant's job plays out is in cases like this one where restitution is an issue. If I steal from someone, I might need to go to jail for that, but I also need to pay the money back. I can't pay the money back if I'm in jail or lose my job. There some consideration will be paid (both by judges and prosecutors) for working out a solution that leaves the defendant able to work and make restitution payments. Obviously, there are plenty of times it DOESN'T work out like that, but it's one consideration.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:09 PM on November 6, 2010



I think people were reacting more against your rude and demeaning tone than against the fruit of your expertise. I think you missed a good opportunity here.


I didn't get that at all. Seemed pretty straight forward and informational to me. At most a little exasperated the second time around. I'm grateful he took the trouble.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:12 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Erzinger, according to his own profile, manages over $1 billion in assets. At a minimum fee of 1% that means he pulls in over $10 million per year. Even if he splits this with Morgan Stanley, it means he pockets million of dollars per year. There is no question that Erzinger can afford to pay millions in civil damages if he were to do jail time, even ignoring the millions in insurance he no doubt carries.
posted by JackFlash at 5:14 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of course victims don't run the justice system, but the victim thinks seeing the guy punished is more important than restitution.

From the article:
Milo wrote in a letter to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert that the case “has always been about responsibility, not money.”

“Mr. Erzinger struck me, fled and left me for dead on the highway,” Milo wrote. “Neither his financial prominence nor my financial situation should be factors in your prosecution of this case.”
Reducing the charges just so the guy's job is not jeopardized is supposedly being done in the interest of someone who has seemingly disowned said interest.

Also, as a cyclist, it disgusts me that someone can swerve off the road and hit me, leave me for dead, and seemingly suffer lighter consequences than someone caught with a joint. Theoretically one of the purposes of punishment in our judicial system is determent, and this level of deterrence feels pretty fucking inadequate.
posted by idiopath at 5:34 PM on November 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Anyone who would argue that a defendant's ability to pay is the over-riding concern when it comes to the disposition of justice truly just doesn't get it. But what else can one expect from a culture which values money at the expense of all other concerns. As many have pointed out, this guy doesn't need an income stream (likely in millions of dollars annually, given the obscene incomes people in his position make) , his insurance and existing asserts would more than provide for any possible liability here. It's the worship of money, power and politics that are driving this, nothing more. That this kind of inequity and bartering has become endemic in the American justice is a bug, not a feature.

But lawyers insist that this is just business as usual, it's how things are done, dammit. It's totally wrong, however the people within the system won't admit this. But this is unsurprising, as a judicial system which elects judges, prosecutors, and law-enforcement personnel will never be just or fair. That the lawyers who feed off the carcass of the dying beast can't see that's it is dying is unsurprising. The American judicial system is broken, and this is just a tiny example of how.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:44 PM on November 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I didn't get that at all. Seemed pretty straight forward and informational to me. At most a little exasperated the second time around. I'm grateful he took the trouble.

IndigoJones is right. I'm very sorry, Bulgaroktonos! I had your comments mixed up with thesmophoron's. Can I blame my iPhone?
posted by applemeat at 5:57 PM on November 6, 2010


Also, as a cyclist, it disgusts me that someone can swerve off the road and hit me, leave me for dead, and seemingly suffer lighter consequences than someone caught with a joint.

As I mentioned earlier, even the misdemeanor charge carries up to 18 months in jail. That makes it the same class of offense having one to eight ounces of pot. He's getting off lighter than he could, but he's not getting off especially lightly.

It's also being assumed by most people in this thread that he's guilty of the felony, but it looks close to me. The felony requires an "injury that involves, either at the time of the actual injury or at a later time, a substantial risk of death, a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement, or a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body, or breaks, fractures, or burns of the second or third degree." Now, the injuries described seem like they might well meet these requirements, but it doesn't seem like an open and shut case. I think there's a fairly strong argument to be made for taking the sure misdemeanor rather than spending resources conducting a trial on the felony. This is especially true where the potential gain for getting a conviction on the felony is an extra year and half of potential sentence that this guy is incredibly unlikely to do.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:18 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


BTW, Bulgaroktonos, I see (upon reflection) that my comments come across as hostile toward you, personally. I was addressing my comments towards what I see as a corrupted system. Your opinion and expertise have value here, for sure. I just think that the constraints which you operate under in the current legal system need to be questioned and reformed. I want to emphasize that I admire and respect what you do, and would hope that my outsider's general frustration with a seemingly really poor process won't be seen as a personal criticism. That was not my intention.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:39 PM on November 6, 2010


Not to get hostile with anybody -- but I don't understand how a hit-and-run could possibly be considered anything less than a serious crime. It isn't the fact that he had an unfortunate and/or drunken traffic accident that makes it serious -- it's that he drove off and left the guy bleeding in the street, in an attempt to avoid responsibility. How that isn't a hell of a lot more serious than possession of one to eight ounces of pot is beyond me.
posted by steambadger at 9:52 PM on November 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Now there's four articles found by Google news and the original two have evaporated.

I've been thinking about this all day and I don't think Arrow's paradox applies. I felt I was being master of the obvious saying that this case wouldn't get legs like the serial desktop plagarist. That doesn't seem to surprise anybody. So the expected outcome is as expected. No paradox there.

I would offer a different conclusion to draw from this object lesson: web mobbing is unjust. If somebody putting a cat in a trash bin or swiping articles for republication gets up a huge response with real consequences for the target and this just goes "meh, what did you expect?" then maybe people should lay off the torches and pitchforks when hounding those less well defended by wealth and power.

I think it goes to the notion of balance in justice. These instances are imbalanced and contribute to injustice.

I'm still where I started in this thread which was questioning not this particular grar-fest but the other ones with lesser consequences for putative victims and greater consequences for the putative villains.

If the internets are putting all this empowering information at people's fingertips and eyeballs, how come things are so screwed up and getting worse?
posted by warbaby at 9:54 PM on November 6, 2010


So, we're a banana republic now? Cool! I can't wait for the flag to be changed. One big ole' banana right in the middle of the blue field.

Nick Kristof offers some evidence to this effect.

You and I may indeed be richer than 90% of the world, but this perp is richer than roughly 99.999% of the world, not to mention probably 99.9%, if not 99.99% of us.

I acknowledge the position of some of the attorneys in the thread, but the DA's statement in light of some of his previous cases seems suspect and inappropriate. Besides, this fella wouldn't be the only finance manager with a felony conviction, I'm sure there are dozens of them with even more germane felonies on their sheets like fraud and embezzlement.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:28 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


the law allows for punishment in the form of jail time or financial compensation

That's not an exclusive 'or' there, pardner.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:52 PM on November 6, 2010


I'm unsurprised.

A family friend, riding a bicycle, was hit by a large truck making a delivery to a local groceryon a bright summer day. The truck did not signal, just changed lanes and ignored (or did not see) that there was a person on a bicycle there. She spent six months in the hospital as they rebuilt one of her legs, one of her arms, and half her hip, and the driver was given a citation for "careless driving". This is in New Jersey, in a suburb, and the police stated that despite following all the laws, she was 'lucky' they didn't give her a citation.

(She sued the company that owned the truck, and that payment covered her house, her college, her car, and all of the medical bills and physical therapy bills, along with a bit of money for a retirement fund.)
posted by mephron at 12:52 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I actually think the lawyers' perspective is really useful, and it sort of makes me wonder if we're viewing the DA's comments through the article's framing. It certainly sounds to me like the prosecutor is saying that he's getting special treatment because his extraordinarily high-paying job will set him up to pay a lot of compensation, rather than that he's being treated in the same way that any shmoe with a job would be treated. (Losing my job would affect my ability to pay compensation, too, but I'm never going to be able to pay the kind of compensation that could be wrung out of this guy.) But it might not read that way if the article hadn't gone out of its way to identify Erzinger in the lede as a "financial manager for wealthy clients."
posted by craichead at 10:43 AM on November 7, 2010


Hurlbert's a hypocrite

Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite
"As an experienced prosecutor, Mark knows it is important not to simply secure convictions, but to seek justice. He makes victims a priority and is dedicated to providing victims a strong voice in the justice system. Mark has made it a priority for the District Attorney's Office in the effective prosecution of sexual assault cases.
Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite
posted by Vibrissae at 9:42 PM on November 7, 2010


The story is starting to get pucked up. It's currently the top lead story at the Huffington Post with a very large headline: "Hit Job."
posted by ericb at 11:03 AM on November 8, 2010


Felix Salmon | Reuters: How to buy your way out of a felony charge.
posted by ericb at 11:05 AM on November 8, 2010


*picked up*
posted by ericb at 11:06 AM on November 8, 2010




"I drive through the streets, and I care not a d—n;
The people they stare, and they ask who I am;
And if I should chance to run over a cad,
I can pay for the damage if ever so bad.
So pleasant it is to have money, heigh ho!
So pleasant it is to have money.

Arthur Hugh Clough d 1861"

From one of the comments on the How to buy your way out of a felony charge link.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:27 AM on November 8, 2010


Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite Hypocrite

This strikes me hard. I think its the first time in a long time I've seen the word used and in this socio economic/politically charged context. While I am not aware of the particularities of wishing to tie two threads together, it strikes me harder to read this in the context of the conversation going down a few threads over.

How to say this without derailing this thread? (mods please advise if this should go to MeTa instead if one is weaving multiple threads)

This instance of hypocrisy simply highlights, imho, perhaps, the challenge posed to many outside of the United States, especially in light of the elements in the other FPP on the economic decline etc in comprehending the future direction of the nation (which was, uniquely, founded on rational principles, but seems to have somewhere lost its way) - the perception of hypocrisy (or blind ignorance?) demonstrated by the inability to acknowledge the very real problems of inequality and imbalance both socio economically and politically (or even, geopolitically) almost like an alcoholic. And until perception meets reality and acknowledges it, little can be done to change or solve any problems. There's a limit to how much cosmetics and plastic surgery can do...
posted by The Lady is a designer at 11:49 AM on November 8, 2010


There is a petition
posted by czytm at 12:19 PM on November 8, 2010


Well, in two days Google News has managed to go from four down to three stories on this, so I'm guessing the news outlets just don't want to care.

I hope Milo absolutely eviscerates this guy in a civil suit.
posted by quin at 3:35 PM on November 8, 2010


Well, in two days Google News has managed to go from four down to three stories on this, so I'm guessing the news outlets just don't want to care.

Patience, my friend. Google has managed to go up to 44 stories.

The story continues to have legs: NYT, ABC News, USA Today, KMGH Denver, Forbes, etc.

Expect more coverage.
posted by ericb at 4:59 PM on November 8, 2010


Daily Mail.
posted by ericb at 5:02 PM on November 8, 2010


CNBC.
posted by ericb at 5:04 PM on November 8, 2010


New York Observer.
posted by ericb at 5:05 PM on November 8, 2010


David Sirota is apparently scheduled to have the Eagle County DA on his radio show (Denver) tomorrow morning to explain why this guy isn't being charged with a felony... this should be interesting! Podcasts of his show are usually available later in the day http://sirota.am760.net/
posted by bdragon at 8:13 PM on November 8, 2010


Open Letter from Mark Hurlbert trying to rationalize his actions

There's a bit where it sounds like the victim's lawyer actually was asking for a plea bargain, but the details of the plea arrangement may have had the potential to be even more beneficial to Mr. Erzinger. IANAL, so can any attorney types explain if this explanation has merit or is just obfuscation?
Despite what is implied in the Vail Daily, Dr. Milo never asked me to plea Mr. Erzinger to a felony. Dr. Milo asked that I plead Mr. Erzinger to a felony deferred judgment and sentence.

What this means is that Mr. Erzinger would plead to a felony leaving the scene of an accident, and the judgment would be set aside.

In either two or four years, as long as Mr. Erzinger met certain conditions, the case would drop off his record and he would be allowed to seal this case. Since there was no alcohol or drugs involved, the only conditions I could legally ask for were that he pay restitution and stay out of trouble.

Given that he had a clean history, Mr. Erzinger would essentially have been able to write a check, and the case would then be dismissed. On top of that, while Dr. Milo was still probably recovering from his injuries, Mr. Erzinger would be able to say that he had no criminal history and even deny that anything had happened. That is not something I could stomach.
posted by bl1nk at 11:12 AM on November 9, 2010


So there are those outraged that this guy seems to be getting off light.
There are those noting that the misdemeanor charge carries penalties nearly that of the felony.
Still others complain that the complainers don't understand how common this is, regardless of the defendants net worth.
And another crowd is pissed at the DA.

I wonder how this would be different if the blunt weapon in question had been a 20oz hammer instead of a ton of glass and steel.

There is nothing that isn't fucked up about this. To defend the assailant or the judicial jurisprudence enacted here is to have your head so far up your own ass as to have lost all sight of your hemorrhoids let alone your perspective. This story should be a call to arms - your judicial system is proper fucked.
posted by mce at 12:49 AM on November 10, 2010


Turns out, though, that Bulgaroktonos had the dynamics of this case well-pegged. This really isn't much of a special case; given the parameters of how the American justice system operates. Any complaints need to address the fact that the whole system is inherently flawed.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:11 PM on November 10, 2010


The whole system is inherently flawed by design.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:23 AM on November 11, 2010


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