Monday, November 08, 2010

Justice And A Cyclists Life

 Today I have something a bit more important than the regular cycling related post that you normally see here. It has to do with the rash of hit and run cycling events I've noticed this year and this one in particular really chapped my hide......

Recently a cyclist was involved in a hit and run accident in Vail, Colorado where the cyclist was severely injured and the automobile driver was tracked down later, and admitted responsibility for his actions. (See the story here) Then something weird happened....

A lawyer got involved.

The place where this happened was in Eagle County. A place where a certain high profile case involving a certain District Attorney named Mark Hurlbert. occurred. (Kobe Bryant case,) According to the website for the Colorado Fifth Judicial District, Mr. Hurlbert is described as being "... an experienced prosecutor, Mark knows it is important not to simply secure convictions, but to seek justice.(emphasis mine). 

Hmmm......really? Check this out....

Mark Hurlbert is not charging Martin Joel Erzinger with a felony, because "Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession," Mr. Erzinger is an employee of Smith Barney which manages billions for rich people.

So how is that for justice?

I guess you could slag this off as just an oddity, just some weird aberrant deal "out there". But think about this: High profile cases like this, (and make no mistake, this is going to be a big deal in the media and especially amongst cyclists),  can be seen as precedents. They can be interpreted by non-cyclists as being a "way out" of a serious crime. That it smacks of making a life "cheaper" merely by the fact that the "life" in question is riding a bicycle should be enough to cause alarm right there though, in my opinion. If you don't see this as being injustice, then we are all in big trouble.

So, what can you do?

There has been an online petition started which you can sign here. and Bike Radar tech editor, James Huang, has started a Facebook page called "We're People on Bikes, Not Lifeless Obstacles in Your Way"

My blogging comrade, Richard Masoner, of Cyclelicious, has an idea to hit the Vail area where it might hurt them by starting a petition to take away potential business that will be generated by the Quizno's Pro Challenge bike race which is a stage race visiting Vail next August. There are several contact links on this page where you can voice an opinion to Eagle County and Vail officials. 

If you care about justice, protecting all lives fairly, and cyclists rights, please consider checking these links out getting involved. Thanks!


Wally said...

I'm glad you posted about this. I read of it earlier in another post but I think the more people that read about this idea of "justice" the better off we all are.

richard1 said...

There are few enough cycling events out there and with the economic climate out there right now do we want to beat up on a race venue? There has to be some other way to send out the message that what is happing in this case is a gross injustice and should not be tolerated. I agree a message should be sent , not at this target though.

Bruther said...

Might I suggest not blaming it on "a lawyer" who got involved but the jack hole that decided it was a good idea to, rather than take his punishment, hire a lawyer who obviously did his job and a prosecutor who did not? That is the root problem with society, blaming someone else for the original idiots lack of morals, ethics, responsibility. Please, the bottom line is there is one villian in this story, and it is the original source of the horrific crime committed (and probably his rich irresponsible parents). And yes, I am an attorney and cyclist.

d.p. said...

I agree with the injustice. In CO the DA is elected and only represents the interests of "people."    The electorate needs to be informed. The decision should come as no surprise to anyone who followed what happened in the case of Bob Breedlove. How much is a cyclist's (etc.) life wort in Colorado? $35 and 24 hrs. Community service.

Unknown said...


I copied your blog post on mine to get the word out to others as well. Hope that was alright - I gave you all the credit.

Why do I want to send you a post card for TI???? I am unable to participate but man I want to bad!!

Have a great week.

Guitar Ted said...

@richard1: You see why the point is being pushed at the event. Yes- you are correct, and hopefully, because of this gross injustice to a cyclist, the event will be pulled from Vail, and given to another worthy town, or.......the DA could do the right thing here. The we'd all be satisfied, I think.

@Bruther: Well, the DA in this case made a round-a-bout argument that the lesser charges would "stay with the accused" his whole life, but that the felony charge would impinge on his ability to pay damages because of the severity of the "felony" term in the accused man's line of work.

Umm......I don't buy that for a minute, it isn't justice, but something else predicated on money, and the DA is a lawyer, no?

Sorry, but I stand behind my original statement.

@Bill G: No worries! I'm glad you spread the word on this.