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'Abject Failure'

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Over the course of the two years since Josiah Lawson's tragic killing and the drawn out wait for resolution, it has increasingly seemed that the criminal justice system in Humboldt County really just wants concern over his murder to fade away ("My Conversation With Richard Ehle," April 4). 

In the wake of returning no indictment and Charmaine Lawson's statement that the investigation should be taken out of local hands, to blame the press for the fact that "among some members of the community" we've noticed the abject failure of prosecutors and law enforcement to find a chargeable suspect in the killing of this young man really just confirms this appearance. 

It doesn't seem too much to ask that a criminal justice team be as eager to solve murders and bring murderers to justice as the rest of the community, if not more so!

Blaming the press for the failure of the department that one leads to achieve justice in a reasonable time frame is both childish and dangerous. Neither of those attributes are that desirable in a district attorney.

It seems pretty fair to dismiss the claim that Ehle was misquoted. Obviously, if the words attributed to him were inaccurate, then the Arcata Police Department and prosecutors in this case would have been remiss in not making the correction in a timely matter. "Unequivocal physical evidence" uttered from the chief (interim, acting or whatever) is a fairly strong statement that reasonably establishes an expectation of resolution and justice being served — which, by the way, are good things.

To think they could return no indictment and after which simply say, 'The interim Mr.-so-and-so claims he was misquoted' is disturbing and it devalues the intelligence of the people they serve. Meanwhile, the never-going-to-get-old Mr. Lawson awaits his due.

Monte Merrick, Manila


Thank you for your recent editorials providing information about the Josiah Lawson case. As a community member and, most especially, as a parent, the lack of progress makes it hard to place trust in a system that has so spectacularly failed on so many levels. Who among us would be content to accept what is being said and done (or not done) in the pursuit of justice?

We will never know why the criminal grand jury made its decision to not bring charges because its proceedings take place in secret. Since this case has been troubled with lack of transparency from the beginning, I am confused as to why DA Maggie Fleming chose the route of a criminal grand jury. Although DA Fleming is not obligated to provide explanations of her actions (or inactions), it would have been thoughtful, in this particular instance, to share what was behind the decision. To make matters worse, when DA Fleming's office decided to communicate via statement, it was to blame the media for publishing the words "unequivocal physical evidence." DA Fleming now appears to be attempting to divert attention away from her office and, in so doing, she weakens her credibility. As you pointed out in your editorial, the phrase had been published more than once over months, without a challenge.

The job of the District Attorney is to manage the office, to investigate crimes in cooperation with law enforcement and to bring criminal charges or convene a grand jury. Attacks on the media are not part of the job. I am sure we are all united in wanting Justice for Josiah and it is fair for all of us to expect our elected official, the Humboldt County district attorney, to pursue justice in a peaceful and professional manner.

Sheila Evans, Eureka

Editor's note: District Attorney Maggie Fleming did offer her reasoning for convening the criminal grand jury, which we reported in our March 28, 2019, edition. Specifically, Fleming said her office decided to take the case to a criminal grand jury in order to "have the community evaluate the case" and because it anticipated a private setting would give witnesses "the best possibility opportunity to provide accurate testimony."


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