Rough justice

Lenny Bruce once famously said that “in the halls of justice, the only justice is in the halls.” He was referring to the corruption of the legal system, where deals are brokered and bargains arranged outside of the actual courtrooms. But the notion that sometimes justice requires stepping outside of the venue of the law is a universal one — and almost universally a bad one.

Two examples of that show up in this morning’s Boston Herald.

First up is yet another demonstration of the principle that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” A woman in Cambridge, Massachusetts had a rather unhappy breakup with her boyfriend. So unhappy, in fact, that she decided to kill him and his entire family. She was arrested after trying to pump their house full of propane gas.

Then there’s the tale of Achilles Athanisou of Worcester, Massachusetts. His nephew was killed in a car crash, and Allison Voorhis is currently on trial for being drunk and causing the crash. The two met outside the Westboro courthouse, where Voorhis’ trial is being held, and the meeting was both brief and unpleasant. Athanisou’s fist met Voorhis’ face, Voorhis’ butt met parking lot, and Voorhis’ arms met court officers.

My advice to Voorhis: get a restraining order against Athanisou. And ask the court to provide you with an escort into and out of the building for the duration of the trial. But don’t file criminal charges — that will merely draw out the process, turn him into a community hero, and let’s face it — to the average person (read: juror), you had it coming. They will probably not convict him, and if they do they’ll go for the lowest charge they can. And the judge will most likely give him a slap on the wrist at best.

You’ve got far bigger problems right now, Ms. Voorhis. Just do what you need to do to keep yourself physically safe and focus on your current travails.

And Mr. Athanisou: you got your shot in. You will probably get away with it. Now step back, with your family, and give the system a chance to get it right. Although we’re talking about Massachusetts, the state that is a leading innovator in finding new and exciting ways to screw people over and inventor of whole new forms of corruption, they still get some basics right. And in recent years, the tide has been to hammer drunk drivers, and hammer them hard. The state will most likely do the right thing here.

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