Today, America officially died as the last bastion of justice for the wrongfully deceased and their families. Any hint of optimism we may have had left, which was not much, must now be eradicated from our conscience. Abjection is the new standard of jurisprudence in America.
By Frank J. Ranelli
First, we had O.J. Simpson’s baffling acquittal led by his rhyming lineup of “dream team” lawyers. Then, Casey Anthony's “trial of the century” circus act grants her a staggering verdict of innocence juggled and dropped on our fragile psyche by the incompetent State of Florida. Now, add another name and face to the list of late victims stripped of their due justice: Jon Michael Green.
On May 3, 2010, Jon Michael Green, age 23, lost his life tragically to a distracted, careless, and negligent driver in Southeast Florida. Jon was traveling eastbound on his 2007 Kawasaki motorcycle in Pembroke Pines, Florida, when a driver named Fran Folic failed to account for Jon in the opposite lane, failed to yield the right of way, and turned left directly into his path, ejecting him from the motorbike instantly. Jon first struck the pavement more than fifty feet away from the initial point of impact, tumbled uncontrollably several more times before finally coming to rest against a sewer drain catch basin.
He was unconscious, unresponsive, bleeding profusely, and suffering from a litany of internal and external ghastly injuries. And yes, Jon was wearing a helmet. Jon died less than 48-hours later in a level-one trauma unit from massive and catastrophic injuries.
Unfortunately, Jon didn’t just die from his body-shattering injuries, his family had to withdraw life support and watch him helplessly suffocate to death in torment. Why? A team of neurosurgeons and trauma specialists unanimously agreed Jon’s injuries were so substantial, so complete and irreversible, that he was a “locked-in” quadriplegic with a fractured and crushed spine, unable to breathe on his own, unable to move at all, not even flutter his eyelids—his condition was beyond grave; it was hopeless.
Jon’s mind, however, was alert, horrifyingly intact in fact, and keenly aware of his own imminent death. Jon’s only means by which to communicate his mental lucidity: a nurse holding open his eyelids manually while doctors assessed his mental status through a series of simple, “look left for ‘no’ or right for ‘yes’ questions and answers. Jon’s binary acknowledgments through his left or right eye movements showed they where consistently and appropriately proper. He was trapped silently and impotently inside his own completely broken, hemorrhaging, and dying body. The only compassionate decision afforded to his family was to free Jon’s tortured mind from a flaccid body through death.
Then, on July 15, 2011, more than a year later, after numerous delays, baseless continuances, and farcical defense shenanigans, in a small, quiet courthouse minus any media attention in Hollywood, Florida, the accused, Fran Folic, was implausibly exonerated of Jon’s death. After nearly five hours of tense courtroom testimony, Judge Arlene Joy Simon acquitted Fran Folic of failing to yield the right of way and, as a result, blameless for Jon’s fatal injuries. The grounds for such an incongruent decision? No Intent.
A driver of an automobile may now presumably drive carelessly and negligently—according to the dishonorable, perhaps venal, and certainly malfeasant Judge Arlene Joy Simon—so long as their resulting actions (in this case, a tragic and fatal motorcycle crash), do not show deliberate “intent.” Judge Simon shockingly opined, since punishing the driver of the SUV, Fran Folic, would not bring back the dead, she pronounced, against logic and overwhelming and indisputable evidence, the accused was “not guilty.” In the eyes of the State of Florida, and in the homunculus mind of Judge Simon, Fran Folic was not guilty because she and her own two living children had suffered too much angst while waiting for trial. Pity the living. Punish the dead.
Yes, you read that correctly, a driver can turn left while failing to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic, cause a fatality, and still be acquitted because "the defendant did not intend harm” and “it will not bring your son back." The ignoble Judge Simon uttered this obtuse and obscene verdict from the bench to the decedent’s mother, Susan R. Green, with virtually no deliberation and only moments after closing arguments. Justice, and this justice of the court, is not only blind, deaf to reason, but also callous and cruel.
Judge Arlene Joy Simon ruled unconscionably, since the defendant did not willfully intend to strike the motorcyclist when turning left and failing to yield to oncoming traffic, she therefore could not find her blameworthy. Still worse, Judge Simon disregarded the corroborating testimony of a near dozen eyewitnesses and the investigating police detective, evidence, pictures, reports, measurements, calculations, and charts of the crash scene inexorably showing Ms. Folic at fault. Moreover, the judge misconstrued, painfully mangled, and even ignored outright Florida’s traffic statutes and existing laws.
Parenthetically, while testimony and evidence from a related civil trial are inadmissible in a criminal proceeding in Florida, the defendant, through her liability insurance carrier Allstate, determined Ms. Folic to be the “at-fault driver” and settled the wrongful death claim out of court for an undisclosed amount. Further, Ms. Folic was cited by the Pembroke Pines Police Department, after a four-month homicide investigation, with two moving traffic violations, “failure to yield the right of way through a highway crossing section,” and, “failure to yield the right of way when turning left.” The deceased, Jon Green, was not posthumously cited nor did the police traffic investigation or the homicide investigation uncover any wrongdoing on Mr. Green’s behalf.
In other words, it was a mockery, a sham; a kangaroo court proceeding in a banana republic presided over by a prejudiced judge. It was a sick joke; a grave transgression perpetrated on the Green family and a courtroom debacle that disgraces the memory of a young, blameless motorcyclist who lost his life at the hands of negligent SUV driver. Or, as one bewildered but astute courtroom observer asked in disbelief, “How is it that you're ‘allowed’ legally to fail to yield to traffic? It makes no sense at all!”
As a result of this contemptible edict by a legally illiterate judge in Broward County, Florida, a person need not heed traffic laws any longer, as there are no consequences to one’s neglectful actions, even when they fail their duty of care to another motorist when operating an automobile. Consequently, going forward, according to the vacant Judge, Arlene Joy Simon of Florida’s 17th Judicial Circuit court, the punishment of lawfully wrong actions is vitiated when there is no intent. Egregious and negligent accidents and crashes, however, are permissible.
So, people of Florida and America too, listen up, drive as inattentively as you like with total disregard for public safety, just be confident you didn’t “intend” to speed, or “intend” to run over pedestrians, or “intend” to crash into motorcyclists, etc. Spin the steering wheel in any direction you prefer, spin your wheels as hastily as you desire, mash the accelerator at will—hell, blindfold yourself as you enter the vehicle, but know, no matter the outcome—even death, it’s the intent, or lack thereof, that really matters. Neglect, it seems, even when it results in paralysis and death, is now officially sanctioned by Florida and their deplorable Judge, Arlene Joy Simon.
I once said modestly, “I navigate the avenues of life best when I traffic in words.” However, this time, I have no words expressive enough to traverse this travesty of injustice.
References and notes:
 “Tetraplegia,” or quadriplegia, is a devastating state of illness or injury that leaves the victim with no motor or sensory function and a complete loss or near total impairment in controlling bowel and bladder, independent limb movement, sexual function, digestion, breathing, including cranial muscle paralysis, and other autonomic functions. A “locked in” quadriplegic usually retains some or most of their mental faculties, typically aware of their grave state, but unable to move or communicate with the outside world in any fashion.