Advertisement

Haag Slaying

June 28, 1992

Your editorial Sunday (June 21) well summarized a common feeling of frustration after the death of popular Escondido resident Myron (Mike) Haag. That frustration was shared by every member of the district attorney's staff who examined this case-including the district attorney himself.

You correctly observe that the district attorney's decision not to prosecute in this case met the requirements of the law. Indeed, the law dictated this decision. As was pointed out in your editorial, taking this matter to a grand jury or simply filing charges and going to a preliminary hearing "to give the victim his day in court" as some have suggested, would be nothing more than passing the buck. This was an unpleasant, hard decision and this district attorney does not duck hard decisions.

The editorial also is quite correct in pointing out that the district attorney's decision did not meet the requirements of determining moral culpability. The district attorney is absolutely without authority to decide issues of moral culpability. He is permitted to determine only the viability of criminal charges-based upon admissible evidence and the state of the law, not considering community sentiment, the popularity of a particular victim or the status of a proposed defendant.

The editorial states that the decision "clearly isn't up to a community's expectation of justice." Perhaps that expectation is misplaced, the product of very understandable sympathy for Haag and his family.

The criminal justice system, deliberately constructed to protect the legitimate rights of the accused, is not and never will become a forum for redressing all wrongs. Sometimes that brings frustration and a gnawing sense of incompleteness to the community-including police and prosecutors.

STEVEN J. CASEY, Special assistant to the district attorney

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|