Is ‘Culture Clash’ A ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ Card?

Written by Larry Usoff on February 26, 2018

If a person commits a crime there are several avenues that the defendant can pursue to avoid punishment, or at least a large portion of the punishment. One can feign insanity, prove that they couldn’t have been the perpetrator because they have “witnesses” that will say they were somewhere else, or even try to turn the tables on the accuser and claim that they were the instigator of the crime! It is said, and statues bear it out, that Justice is blind…that is, she doesn’t recognize wealth or poverty, race, religion or anything else that might come to bear on the outcome of the case, right? This is what we think is our judicial system, everyone is equal under the law…but are they?

Last July, right in Manchester, New Hampshire, this premise was put to the test and, guess what…it failed.

One Augustin Bahati, a 33-year-old Congolese man beat the system…not once, but on six counts! He lacked the cultural competency to participate in the American justice system, according to court and public records, and so, in six cases of domestic violence, Justice lifted her blindfold and looked at the defendant and decided that he just didn’t know any better.

Several questionable actions highlighted by Attorney General Gordon MacDonald in a widespread critique of domestic-violence prosecutions in Manchester and that critique led to the abrupt retirement of veteran City Solicitor Tom Clark. Bahati was accused of striking, pushing, grabbing, kicking and pulling out the hair of a woman who was 27 weeks pregnant at the time.

Manchester prosecutor Andrea Muller, the domestic-violence prosecutor singled out by MacDonald, dropped six misdemeanor charges against Bahati in early March. How Bahati avoided prosecution was spelled out in handwritten notes of District Court Judge William Lyons. Some of the notes by the Judge read, “”The parties agree that the expert reports and analysis indicates that the defendant is… Not competent… Not restorable… Not dangerous…” Consequently, the court must dismiss the charges,” Lyons wrote on March 2.

New Hampshire law allows for charges to be dismissed when an expert determines that a mental illness or mental disability has rendered a defendant incompetent to understand the charges against him and assist in his defense. But an associate attorney general wrote on June 12 that the law contains no provisions for findings of “cultural incompetence”. “This finding simply does not comport with the legal requirements for a finding of incompetency to stand trial and should have been aggressively litigated,” wrote Associate Attorney General Jane Young.

Prosecutors must review all cases where domestic-related charges were dropped in exchange for promised counseling, therapy or similar actions. Protocols must be written for case management, employee supervision, record keeping and training. Checklists and forms must be created to better organize cases. MacDonald set out a timetable for the organizational work, and he established a deadline for action in the Bahati case. Bahati’s case proceeded slowly after his arrest in August, according to court records. He was initially jailed, but released on his own recognizance in September. In November, his lawyer raised issues of competency and asked for an evaluation. The state had to provide a Swahili interpreter for court hearings and the evaluation.

“The six domestic violence charges against this defendant were dismissed because Attorney Muller did not challenge the finding of the forensic examiner that Bahati, who is of Congolese origin, had ‘cultural incompetence’ with regard to the United States system of justice and was consequently not restorable,” Young wrote on June 12. Young went on to write that if the charges are resurrected, an assistant attorney general will assist Muller with the case. Competency evaluation reports are considered confidential under state law and were not part of Bahati’s public court file. A March 2 competency hearing lasted about 50 seconds when Muller asked Lyons to accept the examiner’s report and dismiss the charges.

Young agreed to speak in generalities about competency evaluations. So…to this untrained person, it would seem that if you are a foreigner to this country and can convince someone that you don’t understand our ways and traditions, you can almost get away with murder.

Wait…did I say “almost”? I was wrong, and the July 2017 cold-blooded murder of a woman in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, proves that. A Somali-born police officer shot and killed a woman in Minneapolis, while she was standing next to the police car, talking to the driver! The other officer, the murderer, fired at her, across the chest of his partner, striking the woman and killing her. A constant barrage of questions to the Minneapolis Police Department as well as the Hennepin County District Attorney’s office have gotten NO replies, and nothing has been “leaked” to the media. I don’t remember the particular “clause” in the city’s charter, or wherever it is, but it may allow the murderer to never be charged with this crime. How’s that for “blind” justice?

Parting shot: It’s no secret, at least it shouldn’t be, that the present Administration has a huge job to do, trying to right the wrongs that the previous administration (which I call Hussein’s Horde) had established in order to completely destroy the United States. Every day I ask why those people are not in a federal courtroom, if not in a federal prison? Guaranteed if you or I did what they’ve done, we’d be UNDER the prison, right?

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Larry Usoff
Larry Usoff, US Navy Retired. Articulate. Opinionated. Patriotic. Conservative. Cultured enough so that I can be taken almost anywhere. Makes no excuses for what I say or do, but takes responsibility for them. Duty. Honor. Country. E-mail me at: