Friday, July 6, 2012

The Remorse Role

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

"Amy Senser has displayed only "hollow excuses," not remorse, for the hit-and-run crash last August that killed a popular chef and deserves the maximum-allowable sentence of nearly five years in prison, a prosecutor argued Thursday in response to a defense motion requesting leniency.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Deborah Russell's memorandum claims that Senser tried to downplay her responsibility for the Aug. 23 crash that killed Anousone Phanthavong, 38, of Roseville. She urged Judge Daniel Mabley to sentence Senser to 57 months following her conviction in May on two felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide -- one for leaving the scene, another for failing to call for help.
Senser, 45, of Edina, is scheduled for sentencing Monday. State guidelines call for 41 to 57 months in prison.
Senser "has not shown remorse for her criminal choice to drive away after crashing into Mr. Phanthavong. She has not shown remorse for her choice not to call 911 immediately after the crash, and she has not shown remorse for her choice not to report the crash the next day -- even after she realized that she had killed Mr. Phanthavong and for 10 additional days thereafter," Russell wrote. "Instead, [the] defendant has continually minimized her criminal choices with hollow excuses."
Read the whole article here.
Of course, Mrs. Senser, the wife of a well-known ex-pro football player and successful restauranteur, is being punished for what she didn't do after the incident, more so than for whatever it was she may have done to bring the crash about.  What she did not do was both illegal and simply wrong and if those omissions are punishable, she deserves punishment.  But lack of "remorse"?  First of all, no one can read Amy Senser's mind.  We have no way of knowing what her level of remorse might actually be, other than through her verbalizations.  I'm pretty sure that she's very sorry this whole affair ever happened, even if she's never explicitly indicated that to the court.  But the court wants her to grovel, to beg for institutional forgiveness, and since they have no way of knowing how sincere her groveling might actually be, what they're really requiring is that Amy Senser be a good actress.  How, exactly is she to demonstrate her remorse?  Maybe she could give everything she owns to the family of the victim.  Or personally clean their house once a week for the foreseeable future.  Joining the Peace Corps might be an option since taking vows doesn't seem to be a modern tactic.  In reality, this whole thing is just posing by the prosecutor, she got her conviction, the sentencing is another matter.  She gets to cut another notch in her belt.  But her voice is just one of many the judge will hear before he pronounces sentence.  Deborah Russell has had her name all over the local media, she'll be running for office soon.

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