give this guy a t-shirt


Even I can’t believe this, and I have a pretty low opinion of the intelligence of many prosecutors.

Kootenai County ID prosecutor Barry McHugh has issued an arrest warrant for a 9-year-old boy who failed to show up in court for stealing a pack of gum. The police chief of the jurisdiction says it’s the first time in his 30 years in law enforcement that he’s ever seen an arrest warrant for someone that young.

If you’re having trouble believing that such obstinate stupidity exists, I urge you to refer to this KHQ-TV report. This story is definitely true, not an Internet concoction. Gloria has found the story in USA Today. It’s in the Huffington Post, as well.

The choice of prosecutor should arouse questions about the intelligence of the majority of voters in Kootenai County, which is the home of Post Falls ID, between Coeur d’Alene (a town renowned for its neo-Nazis) and Spokane WA. With a population of roughly 30,000 people, it is Idaho’s tenth largest city.

I think it may make sense to rename the city “Post Hole” to commemorate the fact that the voters there must be as dumb as posts.


Groove of the Day

Listen to TV On The Radio performing “Happy Idiot”


12 Responses to “give this guy a t-shirt”

  1. 1 Frank Manning
    January 13, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    I’ve been fuming about this story for the past couple of days. You know me, Dan, I advocate public crucifixion for bozos like this who pervert the law to brutalize young children who’ve done something naughty. So I must express my astonishment at the statement this clown issued later yesterday. What do you think, Dan, has this man seen the light or is he just reacting to getting his ass burned so badly and so publicy, with his sordid story plastered all over the news all over the country and the world?

    Here’s what he said, apologizing for, as you so eloquently put it, his “obstinate stupidity.”

    “After reviewing the file today (Monday January 12, 2015) I have concluded that my office’s request to have an arrest warrant issued was a mistake under the circumstances. At least one other viable option existed, which was to seek a court-ordered child protection investigation. That investigation would have resulted in information being available for the child’s counsel, the Court, and my office, in order to make a better-informed decision as to the best course for the child. Knowing the child’s age, the charged offense, and other circumstances in the case, we should have attempted this other option. I have reviewed the matter with my Chief Deputy, Criminal Chief Deputy, and the handling deputy prosecutors, and have reiterated the importance of a careful review of the underlying circumstances before requesting an arrest warrant, especially in cases involving children. I regret this having taken place and will do everything in my power to avoid this type of mistake in the future.”

    • January 13, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      At the very least, this is an example of monumental mismanagement of the prosecutor’s office. Someone there should have seen the idiocy of issuing an arrest warrant for a 9-year-old and asked, “Are you really sure you want to make this boneheaded move?”

      My guess is the guy didn’t realize what a big mistake he’d made until the widespread push-back through the media happened. The child was taken into custody on January 6; it took him 6 more days to perceive his “office’s” mistake.

      But what do I know?

  2. 3 Frank Manning
    January 13, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Oh, one more thing [at the risk of sounding like Lt. Coumbo]. In your post you rightfully question “the intelligence of the majority of voters in Kootenai County, which is the home of Post Falls ID, between Coeur d’Alene (a town renowned for its neo-Nazis) and Spokane WA.” I must speak out in defense of that beautiful little lakeside city. According to Wikipedia: “It is stated that Coeur d’ Alene is the home of the Aryan Nations. However, the Aryan Nations’ home was in nearby Hayden Lake, not Coeur d’Alene specifically. The compound is no longer in Hayden Lake because of a heated lawsuit and the bankruptcy of the Aryan Nations.”

    Kootenai County is a very rural area in the “chimney” of Idaho. There isn’t a whole lot there, and the pool of lawyers who could run for prosecutor is almost quantumly small. Hopefully Barry McHugh might make a quantum transition into a more caring human being. Nothing like being humiliated on a viral word scale to instill some humility and compassion into someone who is not already a psychopath.

    • January 13, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      I will concede that the pool of lawyers who could run for prosecutor in Post Falls is exceedingly small, but it doesn’t take a Harvard-trained attorney to know that you don’t arrest a child of any age (let alone 9) for what would be a petty crime if committed by an adult. This shows very poor judgment.

      Besides, the fact that Post Falls is so small is no explanation for such a lack of common sense. Indeed, it is a pillar of American justice that the wisdom that is found in places large and small is to be relied on. We choose juries of our peers, for example, as a fail-safe for doing what is right. There is a faith in relying on “community standards” to determine normative ideas of right and wrong.

      Contrary to what I said in my post, I’m sure there is wisdom in Post Falls, just as there is wisdom in places like Terlingua TX or Warsaw IN. The trouble is the voters in these places are not allowing themselves to be led by intelligent people. All political decisions are directed at the lowest common denominator, not the highest. When you get right down to it, decisions like arresting 9-year-olds for petty larceny instead of slapping their wrists are our faults. It is we who have abdicated our responsibilities. We get the kind of government we choose and deserve.

  3. 5 matt
    January 13, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    From the DA’s comments, one could assume that there are other family dynamics in play here; nonetheless, it would appear that his office has some issues with setting priorities and over-funding if it can afford to spend the capital described to prosecute a theft of <$1.


  4. 6 Simmi
    January 13, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Hmm what is the truth ? USAToday write :

    “The boy was arrested and released Jan. 9.” ”
    “He was not handcuffed, he was not searched. He was not put it into jail, they basically just gave him a ride,” Haug said. “Now, that doesn’t make it right.””

    But KHQ says he is in juvenile detention.

  5. January 14, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    One article lays it out clearly: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/01/13/idaho-prosecutor-says-arrest-warrant-for-year-old-boy-accused-stealing-gum-was/
    He was taken by the police to juvenile detention on Tuesday Jan 6th and was released on Friday Jan 9th. Where was the judge for 3 days? The irony is that this case is probably still not finished: that will have been the arraignment and a plea of not guilty as normal, then there will be reports and a fact finding and a plea agreement, which will recognize four days served. In WA King County, police officers have to call a 24-hour service to ask for agreement if they want to take a kid to detention, and they would not have agreed!

    • 8 Simmi
      January 14, 2015 at 8:50 pm

      Thanks for the information. I had hoped he was realy only a few hours under arrest. This little boy must be real scarred and being traumatized . I hope he was protected from the other and older inmates! If anything happened to him like violence. The prosecutors should be charged!

  6. 9 BobH
    January 14, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    But on the other hand, a Minnesota prosecutor used some humanity when she distinguished two kids in a “bomb plot” from the main perpetrator.
    She added: ‘We feel LaDue took advantage of them. So, we wanted to treat them like anybody else.’
    The teens are on probation for 180 days and must perform community service and write letters of apology.

  7. 10 Frank Manning
    January 14, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    The absurdity and disproportionality of this incident still boggle my mind. I hope they’ve learned their lesson over there in the Idaho chimney [or panhandle as it is called outside the Pacific North West]. I’m so tempted to smh and say “Four days in juvie for a pack of gum”, but I know it was for the two missed court dates not the truly petty theft he is accused of. But still … grr!

    As traumatic as being locked up would be for a nine-year-old, I’m hoping the juvie in Coeur d’Alene was not too bad. As I’ve mentioned, Kootenai County is a small rural county, mostly wilderness. The juvie there must be tiny, no more than 10 beds or so, so I expect he was quite safe, well fed, and decently treated.

    Simmi, people in this region have a different ethos [compared to, say, Pennsylvania, the source of most of the horror stories we hear about on this blog]. A bit too religious for me, but long on christian compassion. I’m sure staff were quite gentle with him. I volunteer with young juvenile delinquents (10-15 yrs old) at a reform school here in neighboring Washington State. When I ask the kids about the conditions in their local juvies, expecting the worst, most of them describe having a relatively nice time there, how the officers would give them extra treats and even outside food. A girl I worked with for a couple of years was constantly in trouble back home. She called her county juvie her “home away from home” and often remarked about how nice the officers were compared to her own parents.

    Not to excuse any of this idiocy!

    • 11 matt
      January 15, 2015 at 6:28 am

      “but I know it was for the two missed court dates not the truly petty theft he is accused of.” But therein lies the real stupidity of this, Frank. What control does a 9yo have over making his court date, as opposed to the control he had over committing the original offense? They were punishing a 9yo with 4 days incarceration for something that was the parent’s/guardian’s offense/responsibility, not the child’s.

      • 12 Frank Manning
        January 15, 2015 at 2:40 pm

        Yes, Matt, I fully agree with you. I was hastening to point out that in all likelihood the boy was not subject to any cruel, brutal, or violent treatment during what nevertheless had to be a rather scary experience.

        A couple of dimensions of this story are missing from the media accounts, and we may never discover all the details. In a rural area like Kootenai County there is no public transportation. So the only way to get from Post Falls to Coeur d’Alene for a court date is by private vehicle. Does the boy’s family have a car or truck? Are they too poor to own or maintain one? So was this ordeal an additional sanction for being poor? Note the police chief’s reluctance to arrest the boy, and his comment “We would have given him a ride to court if we had know he needed one.”

        It’s seems highly unlikely that a 9 year old shoplifitng a pack of gum would have come to the attention of the courts. Unless it was not the first time this boy has done something like this. Again, would poverty had compelled this boy to resort to stealing some sweets? Does he have the misfortune of living with meth addicts–meth addiciton being a devastating plague in rural areas of this country?There might also be a racial aspect to this case. No, not the usual black-white racism, but discrimination against and animosity toward Native Americans in a predominiantly white area.

        Whatever the case, it seems this boy and his caregivers need a lot of help from social services. One can only hope that the massive publicity this story has garnered will help get them the assistance they need.

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