Susan Estrich - The failure of the insanity defense

Was James Holmes — convicted on Thursday of the 2012 massacre at the Aurora movie theatre — nuts?

Of course he was nuts. Does a sane person go into a movie theatre and just start shooting — not for a war or cause — for no reason at all? I mean, if he's not "insane," who is? Whether he should be held criminally responsible is an entirely different matter.

The insanity defense was one of the hottest, most debated issues in the law for decades, liberalized in many courts, notably D.C's, in a movement to provide treatment and not punishment to the mentally ill. After John Hinckley, who had been charged with shooting President Reagan, successfully used the insanity defense, it came up against a counter-reform movement.

In the reform days, the question was supposed to be simplified to asking the jury whether the conduct was the product of a mental disease or defect, with courts consulting experts to make these determinations.

Which led, of course, to dueling experts (the defense called four in the Aurora case). The simple test was actually not so simple. What does it mean to be the "product" of mental disease? Does it mean that if James Holmes weren't psychotic, he wouldn't have done this? As to whether the guy suffers from a disease or defect, can there really be any disagreement?

But that can't be enough; honestly, it never could be. If you've ever hung around the criminal courts for any period, you'll run into a lot of people who just aren't right in some rather significant way. And I'll admit that my first instinct upon encountering such a person, particularly if he happens to be in shackles, is not to hope that enough attention is given to his tragic upbringing or fragile psyche or even those brain lesions we might someday see or the genetic marker for violence that might someday be identified — my instinct is to hope that he gets what's due him and to sit far away in the courtroom. Real far away.
So in practice, because conditions in state mental hospitals in many places compare poorly with all but the worst jails, and since fronting a successful defense requires money for experts, which is something most of these guys in shackles don't have, the insanity defense doesn't get used very much. And the way the instructions to the jury are written now, "sanity" — by the way, "insanity" and "sanity" are not medical diagnoses, just legal constructions — requires only that you know the difference between right and wrong. Holmes' secrecy and preparation before the attacks would satisfy that criterion. Almost anything would be enough to satisfy that criterion.

Was anyone really holding her breath about what the verdict would be? Not exactly an O.J. moment. You go to the movies on a Friday night in suburbia, or your kids do, and you do not expect — and our society cannot tolerate — fear and the threat of violence. We don't want to live that way, and whether it deters one person or not, this guy is certainly not going to "get away with it" in the state hospital.

So why keep that legal defense on the books? Some people say we shouldn't. It persists, I think, not because it offers a real "out" but precisely because it doesn't. Even at the height of reform, there was a fair amount of evidence that the exact words of the instructions actually didn't matter very much to jurors.

But the fact that we recognize such a defense speaks to how our system, as an essential element of its fairness, punishes people not for bad luck but for bad choices — even if those bad choices are conditioned by the usual list of deprivations, or the more scientifically phrased ones tossed out by the paid experts. Most people with all those same deprivations manage to control themselves, and, if they can't, it is precisely such people who society must control. The insanity defense is, as one of my old colleagues (who taught a course on law and psychiatry) used to call it, "A pimple on the nose of the law."

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 478

Roche — Lakes Region Pofiles - A restaurant we can be proud of

They say operating a restaurant is one of the most difficult passions in life. Now try operating six of them and you've created a formula for being busy! Scott Ouellette wouldn't have it any other way and based on the accolades, awards and reviews on various websites, he has achieved tremendous success.


Scott, your first restaurant was Canoe Restaurant & Tavern in Center Harbor... How old were you and how did it start?



"I was 38 in 2004, a good friend of mine, Carla Peterson from Hector's Restaurant, owned this property at the time and I said 'if you ever get sick of this place let me know'. The fun began after that...There were canoes hanging from the ceiling, so that's where I got the name, 'Canoe'. The building had 186 seats and I loved the location overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee and the cozy, comfortable feeling of the building."


...and before that?

 

"I grew up in Bedford and Merrimack, N.H., working in the restaurant industry under various chefs. I then operated my first restaurant, Sea Garden in Rockport, Mass. I also had an interest in finance over the years, having worked for Transamerica for five years doing their financing transactions throughout New England and New York."

 

Which restaurant came next?

 

"O's Steak & Seafood. A great opportunity was presented to me at the Lake Opechee Inn and Spa. I loved the location, the physical structure, the fact it was right on the water and had a fabulous inn already in place. I took a chance, it was a total startup and the owners were fantastic to work with. It was a complete rehab and a really interesting structure to work with. We ended up with 192 seats including outdoor seating overlooking the lake. "


What happened to The North End Restaurant in Moultonborough?

 

"We opened it as an 80-seat restaurant on Route 25 in Moultonborough. Seasonal help was tough and we decided to turn the operation into a full time catering and banquet facility. We've handled catering events as far away as Nantucket and have traveled off to Keene, North Conway, the Seacoast, Nashua as well as the Lakes Region. We have 12 servers and 4 full time chefs in the catering operation."


Off to a new market in Concord...

 

"Michael Simchik who developed Capital Commons approached me at O's in Laconia. We discussed the possibility of opening a new restaurant at his complex. I was sold on the idea when I visited the building. It had Red River Theaters and the Performing Arts Center. It was a new building with a great parking lot and huge government and year round local business. It was the perfect place to duplicate the O's experience. That's just what we did. It was approximately 5,600 square feet with 180 seats. I could already see similarities at O's, mimicking the ambience and upscale décor we have in Laconia."

 

Back to your roots in Bedford

 

"Having grown up in Bedford, I knew the surroundings and marketplace. So when a former chain steakhouse became available at 216 South River Road, I jumped at the opportunity to convert it into a new restaurant and combine the Canoe and O's concept. We changed the whole look and feel of the building and ended up with 176 seats and opened as "Canoe" in March 2015. We found that many of our customers had heard of us from Canoe in Center Harbor, where they owned second homes; they felt like they were on vacation again. The location was perfect and has many local businesses drawing customers from all over."

 

I just stopped by O's Bistro at The Inn in Main in Wolfeboro...another one!


"The owners of the inn approached me about catering at their large barn out back. I was hesitant about opening in such a seasonal area again but I've always loved Wolfeboro. We were able to strike an agreement to take over the entire food services and open a smaller venue of 90 seats plus we have 200 seats within the barn for lots of catering events. We combined O's and Canoe's atmosphere again and it's been great in the winter and summer. We have a wonderful local following there."


How do you keep everything under control?


"I have a great partner and director of operations, Andy Juhasz. He is involved in both catering and the restaurants for Magic Foods Restaurant Group. It's tough, that's for sure. Some days I'll see every restaurant and then others I'll only visit a few. The key to the business is finding good help and surrounding you with excellent people. The most difficult part of the business is always finding help; I currently have 220 employees, which includes 24 chefs/managers."


How stressful is the industry?

 

"When you think about it, we might serve 1,500-2,000 customers per day between the five restaurants and catering operations, that's a lot of different personalities and a lot of different tastes to satisfy. Add 220 employees with their own personalities and you can see the complexity of what's involved. Everyone has a bad day every now and then and it's our goal to make sure we provide the very best food possible and always the best service."


What do you like most about the Lakes Region?

 

"I'm so fortunate to be able to live and work where everyone vacations. It seems so many people find their way back to the Lakes Region after experiencing other parts of the country. There are many 2nd home owners and retired couples that flock to our beautiful lakes. During the winter months my wife Lynn and I love snowmobiling up north and we enjoy boating three or four times in the summer, if we're lucky."


So there you are... another risk taker and creative chef that took a chance and financial risk putting in the long hours to fulfill his dream. No doubt New Hampshire has welcomed this all around good guy and great entrepreneur to the Granite State.
Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, N.H. and can be reached at (603) 279-7046.

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 647

Pat Buchanan - Is capitalism diabolic?

On arrival in La Paz, Pope Francis was presented by Bolivian President Evo Morales with a wooden crucifix carved in the form of a hammer and sickle, the symbol of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Fidel.

Had Pope John Paul II been handed that crucifix, he might have cracked it over Evo's head. For John Paul II had seen up close what communism did — to his country, his church and his people in 45 years of Bolshevik rule.

On his arrival in the Nicaragua of Daniel Ortega in 1983, Pope John Paul castigated a priest-collaborator who dared to serve that Sandinista Marxist regime as culture minister. And, while in Managua, he warned Catholics they were being threatened by "unacceptable ideological commitments."

Today we have a pope for whom free-market capitalism is the "unacceptable ideological commitment".

As The New York Times reports, Pope Francis does "not just criticize the excesses of capitalism. He compares them to the 'dung of the devil.' He does not simply argue that 'greed for money' is a bad thing. He calls it a 'subtle dictatorship that condemns and enslaves.'"

In South America, Pope Francis "made a historic apology for the crimes of the Roman Catholic Church during the period of Spanish colonialism — even as he called for a global movement against a 'new colonialism' rooted in an inequitable economic order."

"The Argentine pope seemed to be asking for a social revolution."

Now the church has a long tradition of criticizing capitalism, dating back to the encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891. In "American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America," author Russ Shaw deals with the causes and consequences of what some Catholics contend was a fatal embrace of a heretical "Americanism" in the 19th century.

This pope goes beyond that. His words about capitalism echo what Cold War Catholics said of communism, that it is a tree poisoned at the root that can yield only bad fruit, and, as the Gospel teaches, ought to be cut down and cast into the fire.

What is wrong with the pope's neo-socialist sermonizing?

While capitalism does indeed generate inequalities, freedom, too, produces inequality. For all men and all women are unequal in abilities, energy and opportunities. In a free society, some inevitably succeed, others fail.

For as the Biblical parable teaches, some are given 10 talents, others two, and God judges us on how well we use the talents we were given. The only way to achieve absolute equality is absolute tyranny, the remorseless redistribution of wealth by an all-powerful regime.

The pontiff says the capitalist "idolatry of money" creates "the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose." But it is egalitarianism that has proven to be the road to dictatorship, dictatorships run by egalitarians in the name of the "proletariat".

Free enterprise has brought more millions out of poverty, enabled more billions of people to live longer, freer, healthier and happier lives, and produced more widespread prosperity than any other economic system.

What is the superior system the pope believes we should adopt?

What has Argentina produced but an economically failed state, incompetent socialist rulers, and an occasional Peronista in sunglasses and shiny boots? Is Latin America a fine model?

The pope used the phrase "dung of the devil". Is that not a good description of Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto" and "Das Kapital"? And is not satanic the precise word to describe the scores of millions of dead that 70 years of Marxist-socialist ideology produced?

The 100 million people of Eastern Europe, the 300 million of the late Soviet Union, the 1.2 billion people in China — are they not better off the further they have moved away from Marxism, and the closer they have moved toward free-market capitalism?

As for the pope's apology for the sins of Spanish Catholicism in Latin America, why does he not speak up for the culture Catholicism helped to create, the eradication of paganism, and the termination of such practices as human sacrifice among the indigenous peoples?

But, then, we Americans are no strangers to "apology tours."

The pope is calling for a "social revolution." But what country, among the 190-plus in the U.N., comes closest to the utopia the pope has in mind? Or does his utopia exist only in the mind?

The pope is saintly man. But he has no special understanding of economic systems or of climate change. He is the Vicar of Christ, of the Savior sent by the Father to teach us what we must believe and how we must live to attain eternal life.

Christ did not come among us to end colonialism, or redistribute wealth, or start a social revolution against the empire of the Caesars.

As he told Pontius Pilate, "My Kingdom is not of this world."

Pope Francis is the infallible custodian of that truths Christ taught. Is that not sufficient, Your Holiness? Why not leave the socialist sermons to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren?

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 347

Susan Estrich - Trusting Wendy

I don't know enough about a lot of things to know if the deal with Iran is good enough, to know whether Iran will keep to it, to know whether it endangers Israel, to know just about anything except that I can tell when people on TV are working off the same sets of talking points.

In campaigns, we always say that you can't predict all the crises a new administration will face, so you have to look at the character of the individual or individuals who will be making the life and death decisions in the future — based on information you and I won't have. I may not know much about Iran, but I know Wendy Sherman, and I don't know too many people as extraordinary as she is.

Back in the 80s; before she spent decades at State with Warren Christopher and later as Madeleine Albright's counselor; before she was dealing with North Korea and taking heat for it; back when she was she was a top Senate aide, a feminist mover and shaker around town, Wendy, among her many campaign jobs, ran the soft money in the '88 campaign.

You have to be a real oldster in this post-Citizens United world to remember how tricky it used to be to siphon unrestricted donations into a publicly funded (and expenditure-limited) campaign. Every four years, the top election lawyers on both sides would devise new ways to turn the campaign finance rules into Swiss cheese, and the popular route in those days involved party-organized "Victory Committees", running money through certain state parties and various other little tricks that actually seemed fairly aggressive at the time even if they look positively tame now. On the other side, you had everybody and his brother and sister-in-law coming to you for money, everybody you owed or would someday owe in politics telling you that the only way to avoid a landslide in (fill in one of many blanks) was to get some money from the Victory Fund into particular races.

Sometimes they were wrong and sometimes they were right and every interaction was a negotiation that would be held up and compared (and complained about) by almost every recipient — one of those critically important jobs that is almost entirely thankless, where no one will remember when you're right but boy will they be quick to blame you when you're wrong.

So you need someone who is obviously smart and has excellent judgment and can deal with any kind of pressure, including rude and overbearing men (yes, we had some, just a few, in those days); someone who keeps her cool when, with apologies, all the men around her are losing it and blaming it on her.

Someone like Wendy, if there were someone else quite like Wendy.

There's one more skill Wendy needed in those days, one that has served her well since. She was constantly making decisions on the fly, figuring out how far we could or couldn't go. I was the lawyer. She was the moral compass.

Wendy Sherman has as much plain old-fashioned integrity as anyone I have met. Her commitment to public service, not just public service but service to the United States of America, is not something she crows about. It's just who she is.

Her critics will be all over the Iran deal; I'm seeing the same quotes and criticisms everywhere, so the talking points have clearly been prepared. She was not the negotiator of the Clinton 1994 "freeze agreement" but it was her job to sell the plan and she did, and she doesn't back away from it. Says Wendy: "During the Clinton administration, not one ounce of plutonium was added to the North Korean stockpile." She also insists, rightly, it seems to me, that Iran and North Korea present vastly different challenges.

I met some amazing people in politics who went on to do some pretty amazing things. Wendy stands out, and not just for her wonderful white hair. She is exceptionally devoted to our country and possesses a strong sense of honor. Given the need to trust someone in debates like these, I can think of no one more deserving.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 362

DuBois — BRATTS and the man behind it all

Since I have been hiking in the Belknap Mountains with friends and family for several years, I became interested in learning more about the trail system and had several questions I needed to answer: Who built he trails, how are they maintained, how did the rock steps get placed, who cleans out the water bars? About 3 years ago I was invited by a close friend and hiking partner, Steve Zimmer, to attend the annual meeting of BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders). I asked him, "What's BRATTS?" Steve responded, "Let's go and find out."

I attended the gathering of about fifty people at the Gilford Library, all of them there to support the work of BRATTS. At the head table sat Hal Graham, a stocky man who spoke with passion about the trail system and the need for volunteers to build and maintain trails in the Belknap Range. After hearing of their work and the need for trail maintainers I quickly volunteered to sign on as a "trail tender". But I needed to know about this group called BRATTS, as well as Hal, who led the meeting and was known and respected by so many people in the room.

What I have found out over my brief three years with BRATTS is this: BRATTS was formed in 1993, by a small group of volunteers led by Hal Graham whose mission is to construct and maintain the trail system in the Belknap Range Mountains. The organization relies totally on volunteers to do the trail work so that individuals, groups and families can enjoy hiking in this beautiful small mountain range. BRATTS is symbolic of the famous quote by Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." This is the ideal grass roots, community based organization that relies on a small and committed group of people to achieve its mission without a single penny from taxpayers. It interfaces with many other organizations who have ownership of much of the land in the range, such the Daniel Webster Boy Scout Council, the State of New Hampshire, private land owners and Belknap County. Volunteers of all ages, background, gender and skills work together to ensure trails are well maintained. All trail work is done by Best Management Practices under the supervision of The N.H. Division of Forest and Lands and The Gunstock Area. At present there are 21 trails in the range and all of them have trail adopters, whose job is to maintain these trails for public use.

Now to answer my second question, who is this guy Hal Graham? Over the past 3 years this is what I have found out: Hal is a former SEABEE with the U.S. Navy, married to Peggy, who is also active in BRATTS, and they live in Sanbornton. Hal started his training in trail work in 1979 with the Appalachian Mountain Club as the founder of the NH/AMC Chapter Trail Crew. For four years he worked on the AMC trail system in the White Mountains and worked on a variety of trail reconstructions, like the Bridal Path that climbs Mt. Lafayette. I now understand why Hal loves to work on heavy duty trail construction. For many years his trail work with the AMC provided him with the foundation of his work with BRATTS today.

In 1987 Hal, along with a few others formed Trailwrights, www.trailwrights.org, a committed group of hiking enthusiasts who work in Massachusetts, Vermont and of course New Hampshire rebuilding trails and building new ones. It is a unique group in that it is an educational and trail maintenance organization collaborating with other groups such as the Wonalancet Outdoor Club, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, NH Audubon and many others, including state agencies.

In addition to his love of trail building, Hal along with his wife Peggy are avid and experienced hikers, having been trip leaders for the AMC, hiking throughout the US and climbing the highest summits in most of the continental U.S. In addition Hal mans the Belknap Fire Tower during the summer months. He has stated several times over the course of the last two years that he would like to step down from the President's position of BRATTS, but remain on the Trail Crew (those doing the heavy trail work). Hal is BRATTS and typifies the spirit and soul of the organization. I think he'll be with us a long time and if you see him or any other the trail maintainers doing their work, please give them a huge smile and a few words of appreciation for the work they do in keeping the trails safe and fun to hike.

If you're interested in becoming a member of BRATTS or learning more about the organization go to www.facebook.com/BelknapRangeTrailTenders
BRATTS will also be holding a trail maintenance workshop on Saturday, July 18. If interested you can call 286-3506.

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 415