ACLU Wants to Release a Guilty Man


ACRU Staff


December 29, 2008

The ACLU is supporting an appeal of a Vermont case in which

a repeat offender was convicted and given a long sentence for assault on a

woman. The ACLU does not claim that the man is innocent, nor that his

sentence is anything but just, given his criminal history. They seek to

throw out his conviction and sentence on a technicality. The list of those

who filed briefs for and against the convict’s claims, demonstrate the fact

that the ACLU and American society are on opposite sides in this and many


The facts for this article, but not all of the legal conclusions, come from

an article on the website of the Rutland Herald in Vermont. It concerns the

consideration by the US Supreme Court of a decision of the Vermont Supreme

Court about the conviction and sentencing there of a repeat offender,

Michael Brillon for assaulting his girlfriend. (Whether it was a current or

former girl friend is not stated in the article.)

The ACLU is up front in this case, having filed an amicus brief in favor of

Mr. Brillon’s position in the Supreme Court. Joining the ACLU in supporting

the convicted criminal is the National Association of Criminal Defense

Lawyers. There is also a group of “retired state court judges” who also

filed a brief in support. The politics of those former judges is probably

the same as the politics of the ACLU and Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The position of the convicted man and those who support him is that he was

denied his right to a speedy trial. There is no claim of innocence, no

claim that he was not a repeat offender, subject to long sentence, up to a

life sentence, as a result of this conviction on top of his prior record.

The state counters by claiming that the delays were caused by Mr. Brillon

himself, due to his repeated changing of his court-appointed,

taxpayer-funded lawyers. If so, there is no denial of a speedy trial, and

Mr. Brillon’s conviction and sentence will stand.

Supporting the Attorney General of Vermont and the prosecutors in this case

are a brief signed by “almost 40 of the Attorneys General of the states.”

Another brief in support of the state was filed by the Vermont Law School,

“joined by 15 victims’ rights groups.” There is also one from the National

Governors Association, and one from the Solicitor General of the US.

As is common in press coverage of the ACLU, the article spends all but its

final paragraph quoting from the briefs of the ACLU and its allies, and only

at the end gives this list which makes clear the interests of society and

law-abiding citizens to put repeat offenders behind bars for long sentences.

The participants in this case on both sides make clear the philosophy of the

ACLU. It is that prisoners should be freed by whatever means and

technicalities. It is also that the interests of society and victims of

crime are meaningless in the conduct of criminal trials and appeals.

Source of this story on the Net:



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