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Rollins would bring justice to the federal courts

Melvin B. Miller
Rollins would bring justice to the federal courts
“The bigots really oppose justice, don’t they?”

For any lawyer, it is a great distinction to be named the U.S. attorney in charge of one of the nation’s 91 U.S. attorney offices. The president appoints these officials as part of his new administration. However, like other top members of the president’s team, their appointment must be approved by a majority vote of the U.S. Senate. In an unusual move, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has held up Senate approval of Rachael Rollins, the Suffolk County district attorney, because he disapproves of her decision to instruct her office to forego prosecution of petty crimes.

Rollins’ position is that prosecution of petty crimes enhances criminal activity because of the hostility created in the attitudes of those who might be subjected to what she perceives as oppressive. On her list of offenses excluded from prosecution are trespassing, petty larceny, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, threats — excluding domestic violence, all part of a 15-item list of charges.

Not only will the public be free from the bullying police oversight, but the police will have more time to work on serious crimes. However, Cotton views this as an arrogation of the duties of a prosecutor. Cotton believes that with such a policy, the prosecutor becomes tantamount to an attorney for the defendant.

Blacks as well as poor whites have approved of the changes. Many low-income Americans have to live in environments where difficulties arise. A more understanding attitude by the police seems to have reduced petty crime, according to some surveys.

The changes have been so well-received that some residents have contacted the Banner to urge disapproval of Rollins leaving the Suffolk County post. A retired judge even asserted that Rollins ought to stay and finish the job in Suffolk County.

These attitudes are disappointing. They demonstrate why Black progress can be so slow. An imaginative activist would be delighted to have a U.S. attorney with the background and wisdom of Rachael Rollins. Have Blacks so quickly forgotten the inappropriate prosecution and three-year sentence of Chuck Turner? I would expect a former judge to understand more fully the expansive responsibilities of the federal courts, and how Blacks can benefit from more sensitive U.S. attorneys.

Blacks should be thankful to Rollins, and hopeful for what she can achieve in the federal jurisdictions. 

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