Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Redirecting Public Funds to the Victim

The term "Midrash" refers, collectively, to various rabbinic writings which elucidate the Torah and the Prophets through various explanations and, in many cases, fables. The latter type would be analogous to the fable about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree. Whether he actually did is not certain (and, in fact, more unlikely than not), but the fable is used to illustrate Washington's attribute of honesty.

Some Midrashic fables similarly elucidate various matters in the Torah.

One famous one spotlights the wickedness of the city of Sodom. Abraham's servant Eliezer was attacked by some Sodomites (capital "S" denoting residency or origin in the City of Sodom, and not necessarily sexual practices or preferences) and was bleeding. Eliezer brought suit in the courts of Sodom. The judge ruled that Eliezer owed money to the Sodomites who had beaten him because they had performed the service of bloodletting (which, in those days, was almost universally believed to have curative effects).

Eliezer then threw a rock at the judge, causing the judge to bleed. Eliezer then said to the judge, "Pay them what you owe me!"

I thought about that Midrash story when I read the case of New York State Victim Services v. Murray.

James Murray, New York State Inmate No. 95-A-4417, is doing time for his conviction on a sex offence charge. Murray has been in the Big House since about 1995, and, during his residency there, encountered an overzealous corrections officer who used excessive force against him. Murray sued, and won a judgment against the State of New York.

The New York State Victim Services believes, and I agree, that restitution to Murray's victim should take precedence over Murray's use and enjoyment of the money (never mind that the taxpayers are footing the bill either way). And so, the NYSVS won a preliminary injunction against the State depositing the funds into Murray's inmate account.

The game has not yet ended, but the results are predictable with a high degree of certainty. The money will eventually go to Murray's victim, but not before plenty of public resources and dollars are expended to give Murray his due process. It's not a good thing, but it is far, far better than Murray getting the money.

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