Today my nephew, Eric 17 yrs old, was sentenced to 2 years prison, at the hands of New York State Supreme Court Justice, M. William Boller. I cannot describe how torn my family is; giving all the circumstances of this case. I am thoroughly convinced that the politics of this judicial system, especially displayed by Judge Boller today got the better hand. To give you a brief synopsis, let me begin with a little history of Eric and his childhood.
My nephew came from a very tough upbringing including physical, sexual and mental abuse from the people who were supposed to love him. His own mother has engaged in hard drugs, robbery, prostitution, and several crimes all while having three children. His father died at a very young age. These kids lived with various family members and foster care most of their lives. These kids were dealt a bad hand from day one. Even considering such an upbringing, these kids actually fought and persevered in certain areas of life while absorbing certain values of life bestowed upon them from particular family members that tried to help them. Unfortunately, their mother’s inconsistent on and off attempts to raise her kids created an everlasting sense of insecurities with all her children. Eric alone has a learning disability and a very poor self-esteem. He is very soft mannered and quiet, just the opposite of the typical hard nose criminal one would imagine.
In December of 2009, Eric and his brother were involved in two attempted robbery and assault cases in the parking lot of K-Mart and Koles. They informed authorities and family that they only acted on behalf of their need for food and necessities. The older brother Eric, actually took full responsibility of the incident, covering for his younger brother, who actually was the perpetrator in both incidents. The younger brother attempted to grab purses from both ladies that night. He tried to strong arm and pull the purses, but with resistance from both ladies, he failed in his attempt. According to the one victim, she was struck in the head and dragged across the parking lot. Both kids, to this day deny any physical violence including striking or pulling the victims. Under pressure, Eric confessed to doing both crimes and was charged with attempted robbery and assault, two felonies, for both victims.
Eric was than arrested and released after bail. He was than assigned various court dates, with the aid of a public defender. The younger brother was convicted as a conspirator and charged three years probation, as a youthful offender since he was 15 at the time. Following all this, my wife and I stepped in and took full custody of both kids as we just found out, in addition to this crime, my sister was again using hard drugs while abandoning her home of children and animals. My wife and I could not resist taking these kids in and attempting to hopefully giving the kids a fresh start and showing them that there are people who love them and there is a better way of living.
For the past six months, we worked with both kids in helping them live a stable productive life. Eric got a full time job, started a GED program, and volunteered willingly without any court order. The younger brother went from missing over 2 months of school to getting A’s and B’s in school. We truly did see a turnaround in just 6 months.
We were informed through Eric’s public defender, that Eric could face a maximum seven years for this felony charge. After attending a court date in May 2009, Judge Boller acted very aggressive and unprofessional in addressing Eric. He painted Eric as a harsh criminal with a history of crime, where Eric actually had a clean record and a very mild, quiet personality. He denounced Eric’s tears and displayed his bully tactics as a reflection of his judicial power. He ordered Eric to stop crying and just wait until sentencing when he would have the victim address what actually happened that day, even considering Eric’s attorney convinced us a plea was Eric’s best option and going to trial would expose him to a possible seven year sentence that was not worth the risk. Judge Boller did promise a cap of 2 years maximum sentence, but would not commit to a five-year probation/community service sentence. Our attorney was very confident we would at the very worst get 6 months jail time and 5 years probation. So, going into sentencing, we were a bit worried but confident the public would see such a turnaround in Eric. We were wrong.
From the moment we arrived at court today, I was never treated with such disrespect and an obvious bias toward each of us. Just looking at some of the cops and attorneys in the courtroom, the arrogance is quite obvious. Initially, we were taken into the court and seated. Soon following that, our attorney directed us to meet him outside. He told us the pre-sentence probation officer recommended that Eric either be placed in jail for 6 months with fiver years probation and tried as a youthful offender, or just commit to 5 years probation and 200 hours of community service. He also informed us the victim was also present, and she was going to give a statement. Soon following, our attorney went back into the courtroom. Around ten minutes later, we attempted to go back into the courtroom, since we were notified that his proceedings were starting. The cop guarding the door would not let us enter as he explained there were no open seats, even though I could physically see at least five open chairs. We could not believe the unorganization and process of the courtroom. Here we are, facing a two-year possible conviction and we could not even be present. As we bickered at the entry, Judge Boller was already two minutes into the case. Finally, a few people were leaving, and the cop let us in.
Judge Boller stated the facts of the case, including all the claims of physical assault by the one particular victim. He than had the victim read a statement. She read her statement, without much sincerity, in my opinion. She began to recount the event; verbally bashing Eric while claiming her life was turned upside down including nightmares and emotional pain. She was very adamant on Eric serving the maximum penalty. Eric than had a chance to say something, and he sincerely apologized and wished he could turn back time and take everything back. The Judge after summarizing everything went on to verbally assault Eric, acting completely mad. He called him a punk, a thug, a liar, and etc. He sentenced Eric to two years in a state prison.
Judge Boller did not believe Eric’s story of poor upbringing and insisted Eric was old enough to know better. But honestly is it a matter of knowing better at a certain age, or just falling victim to our surroundings and acclimating to them. We are all generally conscience with most things in life at an early age, and anything to the contrary is usually predicated on bad habits and poor influence. He did not think Erics’ actions in the past six months were good enough to look past his faults. Judge Boller admitingly stated Eric should not deserve a second chance. He was committed in his mind, as conveyed, that Eric would be facing two years today, no matter what. He did not look at the fact that Eric was living in a completely different environment with his uncle and aunt, who are both professionals. He did not consider Eric was working full time and attending GED classes, and volunteering at the Salvation Army. He did not consider Eric was being a productive citizen and staying out of trouble. He did not consider Eric was paying taxes now instead of assuming a so common sense of entitlement so many people nowadays exemplify. He did not consider throwing Eric in a state prison would jeopardize the rest of his life. He did not consider the additional pressure of adding more dependency on funding for additional prisoners.
So what did Judge Boller consider? He considered the victim..or did he. I think he considered his career and his public image. I think he considered the fact that he wasn’t ready to fairly judge a case without it backfiring. After speaking to private counsel, I was informed that the infamous Judge Boller has recently become a bit more affirmative in deciding cases after his recent rulings against Curtis Byers. Is Mr. Boller deciding cases based on personal shortcomings in media and pressure alike? It is quite disturbing looking at the whole picture. If Judge Boller sentenced Eric to serve probation and commit to community service, he would be in a win win situation. Eric would still have the chance to continue his progress. If he messed up, Judge Boller could easily throw the book at him in addition to a harsher sentence. One can only ponder and ask such questions.
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