KOUA FONG LEE
Thanks, Star Tribune, for pushing for justice
I want to thank the Star Tribune and everyone involved in the excellent and continuous reporting concerning the case of Koua Fong Lee.
Your July 1 editorial ("Doubts in Lee case should prompt trial") almost made me emotional. It gives me faith to know we still have people willing to take a stand for what is right.
I hope with all my heart that Lee gets a new trial and that our judicial system learns from this mistake, since I truly believe his trial and sentence are not fair.
FILEPE MUNOZ, MINNEAPOLIS CHAIR, LATINO EMPLOYEE NETWORK
• • •
Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner dismisses the hundreds of reports of sudden acceleration in the Toyota Camry (some with tragically fatal consequence) as "merely anecdotal." Unfortunately, the conviction of Lee is therefore "merely anecdotal" as well, because it is predicated on the limited experience of 12 jurors whose vehicles have not raced against the brakes and who were never told this history.
I wonder what those jurors would have made of the National Car Wash Association's warning bulletin to its members about Toyota Camry runaways in the drying area?
Sudden acceleration offers the only explanation for hundreds of feet of run-on and uncontrolled acceleration in this tragic accident. Even the victims' families acknowledge that now.
It's time for the judicial system to get it right!
ERICH RUSSEL, BLOOMINGTON
• • •
Gaertner may be right in saying there's still no "proof" that Lee's Toyota crashed due to unintended acceleration, although others have reported the same problem in their same-model Toyotas.
But since when in the United States should defendants be considered guilty until proven innocent?
FRANK H. BURTON, MINNEAPOLIS
• • •
Where does the Star Tribune get off second-guessing a duly constituted jury and telling the Ramsey County courts and attorney what they should do regarding the tragic Koua Fong Lee case?
It is clear that Lee and his lawyers are trying to take advantage of Toyota's recent accelerator troubles to win a new trial.
No evidence found then or since (except by paid experts, whose opinions are contradicted by prosecution experts) supports their contention that the accelerator on his 1996 Toyota was stuck; a car that has not even been included in Toyota's recalls, as the paper disingenuously put it, "yet." If it hasn't yet, it's pretty likely it never will be.
Indeed, the defense at the original trial admitted that Lee hit the accelerator instead of the brake, and the Star Tribune even includes that fact. Which means Lee was lying.
Thus, the lack of a record or drugs in his system notwithstanding, Lee deserved to go to jail for some period of time.
And if his attorneys thought the conviction was tainted, why didn't they appeal the verdict, or, as is the crux of your argument, at least the sentence? I submit that a harsh sentence does not alone justify an entirely new trial.
Take the sentence before the sentencing judge. If she says it stands, move up the judicial ladder.
But a whole new trial? I don't think so.
KEVIN DRISCOLL, ST. PAUL
Judicial restraint: Can nominee take it too far?
Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan told the Senate Judiciary Committee that her experience had underscored for her the importance of a judicial branch that knows its bounds. "The Supreme Court has the responsibility that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals," she said. What are those rights to which she refers?
Our Constitution was formulated to establish justice; to promote the general welfare, ensure domestic tranquility and provide for the common defense, and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
When Kagan promises to exercise judicial restraint, does she mean to include laws having to do with human rights that are inalienable, such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as civil rights?
According to the dictionary, restraint is a measure or condition that keeps someone or something under control or within limits, the deprivation or restriction of personal liberty; constraint restricts the extent of control. We need constraint on governmental control of civil rights in order to have personal freedom. Human rights require freedom to make the choices that effect safety and happiness from day to day.
Personal freedom is the governing principle controlling all that human beings are required to do throughout their lives on earth, for the enduring lives of generations to come.
JOANNA C. ROVELSTAD, ROCHESTER, MINN.
• • •
I cannot speak for the rest of our state, but I was deeply disturbed reading commentary and watching video of the Kagan hearings.
Minnesota's Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken were clearly not taking the proceeding seriously, but rather were asking ridiculous, nonsensical questions and wasting taxpayer time.
After dodging very serious questions about things like interstate commerce law, Kagan was confronted with a dialogue regarding the new teen sensation -- "Twilight" -- that she tried to avoid, even after Klobuchar pushed the subject.
These hearings are supposed to be about Kagan's ability to keep her politics out of her judicial duties, and whether or not she is qualified. All I want to know is whether she knows how to adjudicate.
Whether or not she likes vampires or werewolves is beyond me.
ERIK SELDEN, MINNEAPOLIS