The Singleton case brings up a chill up my spine every time it is mentioned. It is one of the most popular cases, mainly due to the high-profile killer whose brutality is directly out of one’s worst nightmare.
In 1979, Lawrence Singleton was convicted on charges of aggravated mayhem and attempted murder. The case was that Singleton had raped and chopped off the arms of a 15-year old girl in California. Good luck found the girl though as she was able to bring herself to a hospital in time before the injuries took a toll on her. The police arrested Singleton soon after that and the court sentenced him to 14 years in prison and was slapped a $2.5million fine in damages to the girl.
This was hoped to be the last case in which anybody heard of such brutality but unfortunately, it did not stop there. Singleton murdered another girl soon after his jail term and was then convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
One wonders that if the justice system was quick to note that the aggravated mayhem that Singleton was charged with had carried harsher sentencing, would it not have prevented the murder? After all, the man did chop off the forearms of a minor and with it, robbed her of much of life’s joy. When considering that, the $2.5million fine seems to be peanuts. In fact, if the laws were tough on criminals, it would certainly have prevented many more such cases; after all, Singleton was not the only case of absolute brutality.
Therein lies the greatest irony of law; it should be fair to everyone even though it at times cannot. The courts can only work conforming to the contours of the laws set in place by our legislators. These laws have been prepared not just keeping a singular case in mind or a single aspect. Suppose there was an instance where a victim of battery tries to defend him or herself with a knife and cuts the ears off her assailant, it would also have to be tried under these laws. Adequate safeguards have to be put in place to ensure that the innocent is not punished without letting the guilty take advantage of the laws’ loopholes.
And that is how law is. It is never perfect but that is what lawyers make use of. As civilized persons, we have to interpret laws and improve them clause by clause.Google+