- By Paul Hughes
I don’t know if you guys have seen this “causes” petition floating around Facebook, but I certainly hope you have—and I am curious regarding your opinion on it. The digest describes a man, John Dugan, and his heinous act of gutting and disemboweling his dog, Xena, who had swallowed some of Dugan’s heroin packets. Allegedly, Dugan admitted to committing the act, but his lawyer is requesting the charges be dropped, which the petition requests the judge not do. The petition ends with, “In signing this petition we also implore [the judge] to impart the maximum penalty of 5 years incarceration as defined by MA law if Mr. Dugan is found guilty upon trial.”
I’m not going to talk about how these petition pushers might better spend their time trying to avenge the many human lives that have been taken away that deserve justice, because I absolutely agree that animal cruelty is a terrible thing that must be stopped; animals suffer in the same way that humans do, and I can’t even imagine what confusion and fear the last few moments of poor Xena’s life must have embodied. I am, however going to talk about how silly I think it is that these people are petitioning a judge not only on how to run his trial, but also on what penalty he should impart on the Dugan. Am I crazy, or is the judge supposed to look at evidence presented by the prosecution and the defense, receive (though not necessarily adhere to) advisement from the jury on the extent of the penalty, take into account past precedent, and make his decision based on those factors alone? I can only hope I never find myself in court with a lot of enemies in the American public—the day a judge starts making his decisions based on a petition is a sad day for the American judicial system.