Saturday, June 12, 1999

Dana Ireland case
will test justice system

Bullet The issue: The long delay in prosecuting the alleged assailants of Dana Ireland has created pressure for convictions.
Bullet Our view: Justice would not be served by convictions that were not warranted by the evidence.

For three days this week, the Star-Bulletin recounted the sad and frustrating story of Dana Ireland, the young woman who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in a remote area of the Puna district of the Big Island on Christmas Eve 1991.

A team of Star-Bulletin reporters, photographers, graphic artists and editors related what is known of the slaying, the delay in reaching her with an ambulance -- two hours after she was attacked -- the agonizing complications and setbacks in the efforts to find and prosecute her killers, how Dana Ireland lived her brief 23 years of life and the devastating impact of her death on her parents, who reside in Virginia.

Her brutal murder was a shocking example of the violence that sometimes blights Hawaii and contradicts our claims to living in a special place, sheltered from the evils of the outside world. Perhaps equally dismaying has been the extraordinarily long time that has elapsed in futile attempts to punish her killers.

One defendant in the case, Frank Pauline Jr., is now scheduled to be tried on July 19. Brothers Shawn and Albert Ian Schweitzer are scheduled for trial on Nov. 15. Prosecution of all three men has been repeatedly postponed for a variety of reasons. The delays led Ireland's mother to comment, "I'll be dead before this is over."

Seven years after the murder of Dana Ireland, there is pressure on the judicial system to bring this case to an end at last by convicting the defendants. But the law requires that every accused person be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

In a case like this, in which emotions run high, it is especially important to resist the temptation to convict even if the case has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Justice for Dana Ireland is certainly overdue. But justice will not be served by a conviction unless it is warranted by the evidence.


Anti-loitering law

Bullet The issue: The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Chicago anti-loitering ordinance as unconstitutional.
Bullet Our view: a person's inactivity should not be regarded as criminal behavior.

THE presence of criminal gang members asserting their territorial control by hovering at street corners is unquestionably intimidating to many residents.

However, preventing such activity -- or inactivity -- may be impossible. The U.S. Supreme Court has long held anti-loitering laws to be unconstitutional, and a Chicago City Council's creative approach has similarly failed to win judicial approval. "Hanging out" is not criminal conduct, nor should it be.

The Chicago ordinance not only allowed police but required them to order people to "disperse and remove themselves" from an area where they had been "loitering" if the officer "reasonably" believed any member of the group to be a criminal gang member. Refusal to obey the officer's order to move on -- not the loitering itself -- was a violation of the ordinance.

The city argued that courts previously had upheld laws requiring people to obey police orders to disperse. But those cases involved interference with legitimate police activity, such as an investigation of a crime scene.

The ordinance allowed police to be highly subjective in determining a person's intent to, as it stated, "remain in any one place with no apparent purpose."

Police were given far too much discretion to order people to leave an area, and they were not bashful about using their new authority. In three years, police made 45,000 arrests of people who refused orders to disperse, until the Illinois Appellate Court became the first court to declare the 1992 ordinance to be unconstitutional.

According to the ordinance, as Justice John Paul Stevens explained, "It matters not whether the reason that a gang member and his father, for example, might loiter near Wrigley Field is to rob an unsuspecting fan or just to get a glimpse of Sammy Sosa leaving the ballpark."

Police should not be allowed to break up public assemblages because they include gang members. Police should respond to real crime, not issue orders merely on the basis of unsavory-looking people standing together.


Missile defense

Bullet The issue: The United States is trying to develop a missile defense system.
Bullet Our view: Success in a test in New Mexico has major implications for national policy.

IN the controversy over development of a missile defense system, opponents have had one advantage: efforts to develop a system that would work had been unsuccessful.

Now, after six failures, an experimental defense system developed by the Army and called Theater High-Altitude Area Defense has succeeded in destroying a missile with a missile. An interceptor missile hit its target nearly 60 miles above a test range in New Mexico.

The hit doesn't mean that all of the system's problems are resolved, but it was certainly preferable to another failure.

The interceptor is designed to protect troops and bases from medium-range ballistic missiles. But the same concept underlies a more ambitious system aimed at protecting the entire country from missile attack.

The success above New Mexico thus has major implications for national policy on missile defense.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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