The travesty imprisonment of Orville “Lee” Wollard will continue, with the blessing of Gov. Rick Scott. Last week, Scott cast the decisive vote to keep Wollard locked up for firing a warning shot after being attacked in his home by his daughter’s boyfriend. Police said the boyfriend ripped the surgical stitches from Wollard’s abdomen.
The 60-year-old first-time offender has already served about seven years of a mandatory 20-year term. A Polk County jury had convicted him of shooting into a dwelling and aggravated assault with a firearm.
A charge of child abuse was included because the boyfriend of Wollard’s daughter was 17 at the time of the incident, in 2008.
Curiously, the same prosecutor who’d originally offered Wollard a deal of five years’ probation (with no prison time) told the state clemency board on Wednesday that Wollard should stay behind bars after all this time.
So let's look at what we have here.
A man was attacked in his home by his daughter's boyfriend. That alone is sufficient, assuming he believed the threat was credible (and it appears he did), to shoot him dead. Indeed, the record shows that the boyfriend did inflict serious bodily harm (the threat thereof being the threshold for the use of deadly force.)
Instead of shooting the boyfriend he discharged the weapon into the wall. For this he was charged with use of a firearm in the commission of a felony (shooting in/into an occupied building) and child abuse (since the daughter was not 18) and under Florida's mandatory sentencing law for firearms offenses he was incarcerated for 20 years (since he discharged the weapon.)
The stupidity of the way this law was applied is obvious on its face. Nonetheless, this is what the law allowed at the time (it has since been fixed, incidentally, however that fix was not retroactive.)
Governor Scott just confirmed that he lacks the mental acuity of an ant, as the law was clearly misapplied in this case. Florida's 10/20/Life law is a good law in the general sense, but that doesn't mean it cannot be misapplied. All laws can be misapplied; we would hope that when legislators write them they avoid that through careful construction but since laws are made by men and passed by men this sort of error does occur.
Enter two groups of people who are supposed to prevent this. The Prosecutor is the first one. Where are the people in this county and why aren't they picketing that bastard's home and office?
Second, however, is the jury. Despite what you are told when you are called to Jury Duty your job is to judge the totality of the situation before you. That's why we have juries in the first place; there is no need to weigh evidence when it is incontrovertible, and often it is. Indeed, in today's world of cameras and audio recorders it is frequently the case that there is no dispute over what happened at all; there is in fact a record of it in a form that, absent tampering, is known with a fair degree of certainty.
The fact is that your job doesn't end there as a juror despite what the Judge will tell you. Your job includes judging whether the charge leveled against the defendant is appropriate given the circumstances of the alleged offense.
In other words your job is to determine if a breach of the peace has occurred, not simply if a violation of a "law" has occurred.
Laws are made by men. Men commit errors. They commit errors both in declaring something illegal that is not because it violates one's unalienable rights (which no man, and no government, may rightfully infringe) but also in applying a law that was written for one purpose to another either through ignorance, stupidity or malice.
This prosecutor disgusts me. But what's equally disgusting, if not more-so, are the citizens of Polk county who condemned this man to prison for what appears to be a facially-incorrect application of a law intended for violent criminals to a man who was being attacked in his own home.
Do you live in Polk County? If so then you have a responsibility to right this wrong. You are responsible for this Sheriff (you elect him), you pay the taxes that support this county government including the prosecutor's office and you imprisoned this man unjustly.
You did that. He didn't do it, you did it.
It is your responsibility to fix it and that responsibility rests in each and every one of you.