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Plaxico’s case brings belief back into the Justice system

This week the sports legal world was greeted with Plaxico Burress’s long awaited sentencing for the Most Comical Use of a Gun to Get Arrested at the annual “/Facepalm” awards. Most people who pay attention to sport know that the story went something like this:

Plaxico shoots himself.
Plaxico claims innocence.
Plaxico tries to convince people his idiocy is a victimless crime.
Plaxico fails.
Plaxico agrees to plea.
Plaxico sentenced to serve two years in prison.

Some have said it is too harsh a sentence for a gun charge where no one was hurt, except for the gun wielder himself. Even though he did not have the gun registered in the strictest gun control state in the country. That he allowed his concealed weapons permit to lapse, and yet still found it necessary to carry the weapon in that state and not in a holster just adds to the boiling pot of stupid moves that athletes have committed in the last two years.

Plaxico now is in the company of Michael Vick, Pacman Jones, pretty much the entire Cincinnati Bengals roster and the several other NFL players who have had recent relationships with law enforcement. These are all athletes that have screwed the pooch and have either ruined their careers or done some severe harm that will at the least set them back several years.

What’s more is that Giants fans have all cried foul at the fact Burress was sentenced to two years for not hurting anyone.

Last I checked, doing something stupid like carrying a weapon and having it accidentally discharge due to negligence has a pretty high potential for catastrophic damage. He discharged a weapon in public and didn’t have registration nor a permit to carry.

If this was any other black man walking into a club that didn’t have a bunch of white people behind him who wanted to watch him perform for the team, either no one would have cared or those same white people would be overwhelmingly in favor of throwing the book at the fool.

The prosecutor in this case did right by making sure the superstar status did not get Burress off easy and that he was prosecuted and served. The message that was sent is clear: New York doesn’t care who you are. Everyone is to follow the rules or suffer the consequences. In a country where dog fighting gets a stiffer punishment than DUI manslaughter, New York is holding its ground on an issue that has constantly been in New York politics for years.

Superstar status should not get anyone off the hook or a lesser sentence. O.J. Simpson’s case did a great job of proving that point. Instead of him fading into obscurity, he wrote a book about how he “would have done it” after he was found not guilty. Then he went and got himself put in jail anyway in a scuffle about his memorabilia. The point of the justice system is to rehabilitate those who made bad judgments or restrain those that have wronged society so severely that they cannot be allowed in the general populous.

Cutting a deal to get someone higher up on the food chain or letting someone off the hook because of the fear of repercussions is not how the justice system was intended to work. It makes the system easy to manipulate and impossible to try anyone by the same standards.

The legal system shouldn’t be a game.

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