Our No-Fault Society

From my journal dated December 2, 2002:

Today was the arraignment of J.H.* [the drunk driver who killed Jason and Alina]. Between all of us representing the Carney’s and Christianson’s, we took up the entire front row of the courtroom.

He had on a great-looking suit, looked cocky and confident…almost defiant. His folks and girlfriend were there, too, all dressed up. Don’t they care that he shattered our lives?

J.H., of course, pleaded “not guilty.” The omnibus hearing is set for February 27, and the court call date is March 28. He went out the side door after the proceeding. Then the whole row of us got up and left. I think his folks were surprised there were so many of us there. They quickly and quietly went out the back door. I don’t know what else they could have done, I guess. This whole thing is just so surreal.

We were to meet with the deputy prosecutor in a conference room so she could explain the legal process to us.

Marie said something along the lines of “We’ve all Christians here. We’re all praying for him. Now we all know how to pray.” Quite honestly, I’m not praying for him at all right now. I don’t know if I ever will. I don’t feel anything for him – no rage, no revenge, nothing. My feelings toward him are just dead.

Neither Jason nor Alina were preachy in their lives about their beliefs or Christianity. The lived their lives as examples – and that speaks so much louder than words many times.

Marie and I had talked about giving pictures of Jason and Alina to the prosecutor. Marie asked her at one point if she’d ever seen our kids. She said that she’d only seen the black and white picture from the Seattle Times article.

Marie gave her a photo of Alina and I gave her one of Jason. She looked at them for a really long time. I thought she was going to cry. She definitely teared up. She gave them back to us and said thank you for showing them to her. She said that she couldn’t imagine what we were going through, that she was a mother herself.

The deputy prosecutor also said that his attorney has already tried to get a reduced sentence. He’ll probably spend less than five years in prison for the deaths of two excellent young adults if he serves anything at all. She also said that it sounds like he is a kid whose parents bailed him out of every scrape. He’d gotten mad once and peeled out of his girlfriend’s driveway, hitting another car. His dad came and paid off the other party. No consequence to J.H. at all. And she also said that she feels they might think they can bail him out of this somehow.

It just feels like our laws have so little bite to them, no consequences for actions. We live in a no-fault society – no-fault divorce, no-fault insurance, no-fault killing of two excellent young people. Our justice system is broken!! They have to file reduced charges just in hope of making something stick!! That’s just wrong!!!

Not Just a Formality

From my journal dated November 25, 2002:

The arraignment [of the person who killed Jason and Alina] is on Monday. The prosecutor said it’s just a formality; it should take only five minutes. She said we don’t have to be there.

I don’t really care if it ends up being a 5 minute deal. I feel like I really need to be there. I want to be at all of the hearings. I want to put a face to those who who died and to those who lost such a precious family member.

It’s not just a formality. It’s our precious son whose life was stolen by a drunk driver. It’s our lives that will never be the same because of someone else’s reckless actions. It’s our hearts that have been shattered because Jason died in a horrendous crash not of his own doing. We miss our boy so much. Anything concerning Jason is not just a formality to us.

They are dearly loved and missed

From my journal dated November 21, 2002:

I went by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office today to order copies of the charging documents. As I left the courthouse, I saw a sign for the Prosecutor’s Office. I decided to stop by and introduce myself. It was just a whim, but I really wanted to put faces to the people involved.

I had to wait a few minutes, but the deputy prosecutor made time for me. She is definitely not a warm, fuzzy person. I guess you couldn’t really be warm and fuzzy in her position. She apologized for the victim’s advocate not calling us when they filed charges.

I told her I wanted to meet her because, although she technically represents the State against J.H.*, she also also represents our kids. They are not just faceless numbers involved in fatalities in Snohomish County. They are people who are dearly loved and missed.