Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Rice, Allen Cases Show Danger of Unchecked Prosecutorial Discretion

Friday, September 12, 2014

The year 2014 has gone from bad to worse for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. In February, he was involved in an ugly confrontation with his then-fiancée (and now wife) Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City hotel casino.  A security camera captured the incident, which ended with Rice hauling the unconscious Palmer out of the elevator.

At first, handling of the event seemed to be favoring Rice. The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, for its part, was willing to give Rice a break.  In May, Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain agreed to allow Rice to enter a pretrial intervention program for first offenders, even though Rice was indicted for felony aggravated assault.  The program allows Rice not just the opportunity to avoid prison time but, upon successful completion of the program’s requirements, any conviction whatsoever.

Initially, and perhaps based in part on the leniency shown in the criminal case, the NFL was also notably forgiving. After meeting with Rice and his representatives in June, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on July 24 handed Rice a two-game suspension for violation of the league’s personal conduct policy.

As for Ms. Palmer herself, she was also willing to put the incident behind her.  In March, she and Rice were married.

The picture changed radically for Rice this week, however, after additional video footage of the incident became public (readers should be cautioned of the graphic nature of the footage). In the video, the 27-year-old professional football player is seen knocking Palmer out with a brutal punch to her face.  Faced with intense public outrage (during which even the President of the United States voiced his condemnation of domestic abusers), the Ravens released Rice, and the NFL reversed its earlier decision and suspended him from the league indefinitely.

You now have to look pretty hard to find anyone willing to defend Rice or suggest that leniency in his case is appropriate.  At least one person, however, believed his prosecution was handled appropriately. That would be Atlantic City Prosecutor Jim McClain. Speaking to the media, McClain insisted that Rice would not have gone to prison even upon conviction.  “Even if they disagree with why I did what I did, I just want people to know the decision was made after careful consideration of the law, careful consideration of the facts, hearing the voice of the victim and considering all the parameters," he said.  With evident futility, McClain added, “I want people to have confidence in this agency, even if they don’t agree with everything we do.”

Based on a number of scathing editorials, Mr. McClain may find that wish unfulfilled.  As we recently reported, McClain’s office took a very different posture in a case involving Shaneen Allen, a single mother from Philadelphia who was arrested last October after a traffic stop, allegedly for weaving within the lane of travel.  By all accounts, the worst that could be said of Ms. Allen is that she failed to understand her Pennsylvania concealed carry permit was not recognized under New Jersey law, meaning that when she informed police of the handgun in her purse, they had all the evidence they needed for a felony arrest.  Like Rice, Ms. Allen had no criminal history.  Like Rice, she was gainfully employed.  Like Rice, she was accepted into Atlantic County’s Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) by its director.  Like Rice, Ms. Allen is finding her year getting far worse as it progresses.

Unlike Rice, however, the offense for which she was accused involved no violence, aggression, or harm to another person.  Yet McClain’s office nevertheless refused to dispose of the case through PTI, leading the same judge who handled Rice’s case to rule that he would defer to the prosecutor’s discretion.  According to the assistant prosecutor who appeared at the hearing, Allen’s prosecution could serve as a “deterrent,” and the alleged offense was “too serious to warrant divergence” into PTI.  If convicted, Ms. Allen faces a mandatory minimum of three years in prison, with a possible sentence of up to 10 years.

Numerous commentators (including here, here, and here) have already mentioned the gross disparity in how the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Jersey criminal “justice” system have treated the two cases.  McClain’s office has refused to address the issue with the media, saying they won’t comment on a pending prosecution.

Ms. Allen’s fate is scheduled to be decided in October by a New Jersey jury.  However, as this article is going to press, we can report that McClain’s office has requested her upcoming trial be delayed while he reviews the appropriate resolution of her case, and that a judge has granted McClain's request. 

Whatever the outcome, Congress should act.  If states like New Jersey refuse to recognize the Second Amendment, the federal government has a duty to ensure the rights of the American people by passing federal legislation like the pending Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2013.

Rest assured, we'll keep readers apprised of any new developments.

TRENDING NOW
Wisconsin: Important Right to Carry Bill Introduced

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wisconsin: Important Right to Carry Bill Introduced

Today, LRB 2039/1 was introduced to the Wisconsin State Legislature.  This Right to Carry bill would allow for the concealed carry of a firearm without a concealed carry license anywhere in the state where an ...

California: One Gun a Month Bill Pulled from Senate Public Safety Hearing

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

California: One Gun a Month Bill Pulled from Senate Public Safety Hearing

Today, Tuesday, March 28, anti-gun SB 497, was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee.  At the last minute, the bill was pulled from today's agenda. Thank you to all who contacted the ...

Texas: Senate Passes SB 16, LTC Fee Reduction Bill, by Overwhelming Vote

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Texas: Senate Passes SB 16, LTC Fee Reduction Bill, by Overwhelming Vote

On Monday, the Texas Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 16, NRA-backed legislation sponsored by State Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Joan Huffman (R-Houston), on a 26-5 vote.

Seattle Gun Tax Fails to Generate Projected Revenue, Succeeds in Burdening Rights

News  

Gun Laws  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Seattle Gun Tax Fails to Generate Projected Revenue, Succeeds in Burdening Rights

On March 16, 2017, the Seattle Times reported that Seattle city officials were reluctant to release data on the revenue generated by the city’s firearms and ammunition tax, citing taxpayer confidentiality concerns. Less than a ...

Virginia Action Needed: Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Self-Defense Bills

Monday, March 27, 2017

Virginia Action Needed: Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Self-Defense Bills

Following their passage in the Virginia General Assembly, Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed multiple self-defense bills; Senate Bill 1299, Senate Bill 1300, House Bill 1852, and House Bill 1853. 

News  

Monday, March 27, 2017

NRA Applauds Texas State Senate for Passing SB 16

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action applauds the Texas Senate today for passing Senate Bill 16, legislation that substantially reduces License To Carry fees in the Lone Star state.

Georgia: Senate Passes Pro-Gun Bills – Governor Needs to Hear From You!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Georgia: Senate Passes Pro-Gun Bills – Governor Needs to Hear From You!

Today, the Georgia Senate passed pro-gun bills; House Bill 406, House Bill 292, and House Bill 280. 

The Washington Post Gives Gun Control Group and U.S. Senator Three Pinocchios on Suppressors

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Washington Post Gives Gun Control Group and U.S. Senator Three Pinocchios on Suppressors

Last week, we wrote about Americans for Responsible Solutions’ irresponsible misinformation about The Hearing Protection Act on Twitter.  Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who took notice of ARS’s complete disregard for the facts on ...

Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Embraces Heller and Originalism During Senate Hearings

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Embraces Heller and Originalism During Senate Hearings

Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme court, asserted during his confirmation hearings this week that Scalia’s landmark Second Amendment opinion in District of ...

California: Anti-Gun Bill Limiting Firearm Purchases to be Heard in Senate Public Safety on Tuesday, March 28

Friday, March 24, 2017

California: Anti-Gun Bill Limiting Firearm Purchases to be Heard in Senate Public Safety on Tuesday, March 28

On Tuesday, March 28, anti-gun SB 497, is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee.  SB 497 would expand the existing one handgun a month law to include ALL guns.  

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.