Taking responsibility helps bring calm, justice
Hawaii's justice system received a shot in the arm favoring reason's restoration to our courts last month. For too long, in our lawsuit-happy nation, we have seen the growing trend to deny fault and place the blame elsewhere.
Gerald Paakaula set a good example for Hawaii when he accepted responsibility and admitted he was wrong ("Beating case plea deal satisfied all," Star-Bulletin, Sept. 15). This brought conclusion to a Feb. 19 incident in Waikele, when Andrew Dussell and Paakaula were involved in a simple fender-bender that, due to hot tempers, escalated into an assault. On Sept. 14, Paakaula acknowledged fault to the assault charges, changing his plea from innocent to guilty.
Paakaula's attorney, Todd Eddins, speaking on Paakaula's behalf, said, "Today a humble, hard-working, shirt-off-his-back type guy decided to take responsibility for his actions. He acknowledged what he did is wrong." Paakaula, the state of Hawaii and the victims agreed that this decision brought reasonable and just resolution to this unfortunate incident.
The assault victim, Army Staff Sgt. Dussell, released a statement through prosecutor Franklin Pacarro Jr. saying, "I am very pleased with the outcome of this case. I want to thank the Hawaii justice system for bringing a speedy end to this case. ... I know this incident is the result of a few individuals and not indicative of the good people of Hawaii."
The case is setting a good precedent. Justice and truth should prevail in our judiciary and legal system. It is human nature for people to make mistakes and initiate wrong actions and for some to act with criminal intent. But it is for our courts and legal system to act quickly with justice to prevent people from taking vengeance or the law into their own hands. It is imperative that we have a government system that will execute "justice for all," a legal system which will discern between right and wrong, intentional or accidental.
Our legal system has the responsibility to determine if the law was violated and, if so, whether by intention or accident. For the sake of justice the court also can determine if the perpetrator is willing to acknowledge guilt and accept responsibility for restitution or punishment. The accused did so.
Justice was served. The law was upheld. A lesser sentence was given because guilt was acknowledged. A family will have their father home sooner. A victim can put this incident behind him, emotionally, knowing that justice has been served. Hopefully the medical bills and loss of time or income due to this incident were also restored to the victims.
The bottom line is the legal system, Andrew Dussell and Gerald Paakaula deserve credit for bringing a swift and just resolution to a sad and hurtful dispute. Thumbs up for the attorneys involved.
Summer Cavasso is a freshman majoring in communications at Hawaii Pacific University. She lives in Waimanalo.
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