Dane County Circuit Judge Ellen Berz To Be Applauded Over Gun Statement During Gang Member Sentencing


Hats off to Dane County Circuit Judge Ellen Berz!  Everyone can be proud for supporting her for the bench.

This blog is often used to urge support for gun control.  In fact I did so just this morning.  But I also am very much in favor of judges who use the power they have to throw the book at those who use guns in their violent deeds.  Such was the case this week in Madison.

In the case of Dreyon James there can be no other reaction than knowing justice was served.

Before sentencing James, Berz had promised that she would sentence anyone  convicted of committing a crime with a gun to prison.  “If I am the judge, if you use a gun, you are going to prison,” she said. “It  is that simple.”

Bravo for that attitude and commitment to the public which she serves.  Meanwhile some of those in the courtroom, including James, failed to understand the gravity of his crime.

At the close of James’ sentencing hearing, Berz first announced his sentence  for second-degree reckless endangerment, for which she gave him three years in  prison. Some of the group for James, which packed the courtroom, applauded the  seemingly lenient sentence, leading Berz to warn them they would have to leave  with another outburst.

Berz then announced a 12-year sentence for second-degree reckless homicide,  and this time the crowd vocally registered shock. James kicked at the table in  front of him and stood, and as bailiffs swarmed him James struggled as he was  dragged from the courtroom.

More bailiffs converged on the courtroom as screaming could be heard in the  hallway and the courtroom was cleared.

After about 10 minutes, court reconvened and James was brought back strapped  to a restraint chair, tears in his eyes, to hear the remainder of his  sentence. 

There is a price to be paid for using a gun in a criminal act.  We must have more judges who make that clear every day from the bench. 

Thanks to Judge Berz.

Too Many Guns On Streets Of Madison, Wisconsin Says Police Spokesman

There is no way to counter the statement from Madison Police spokesman Joel DeSpain.

Following a most bizarre and terrifying shooting incident outside a bar in the early hours of Saturday that left three people injured there was nothing left to say but the obvious.

There are just too many guns on the streets of Madison.

DeSpain said Madison needs to get on top of what he called “thuggery” in the community. He said there are too many guns on the streets.

He added that he had not seen such a “brazen” attack in Madison.

Over and over we awake to the news of more shootings by people who have no reason to have a gun other than to leave misery in their wake.

Such was the case this college graduation weekend in Madison where three people were shot by a nutcase with a gun.

We deserve better as a nation than to have to witness this continual slide downwards due to the prevalence of too many handguns.  Cleary handguns are too cheap and too readily available.  Given that lowlifes, such as this shooter will no doubt demonstrate himself to be, can so easily get guns then we as a society must work to make it harder to manufacture, sell, and own these deadly weapons.

Until then lets beef up our police forces and get the rabble off the streets.

Mass Shooting In South Florida–At Funeral Home–14 Shot, Two Dead

What does one say?

Before I post what happened–lets read why it happened.   Unbelievable!

The commander said someone at the wake touched Andre’s body in the casket in a way that other gangs took as disrespectful. This led to an argument inside the funeral home which spilled out to the street.

Members of one gang retrieved an assault rifle and a handgun from a car and opened fire at other gang members in front of the funeral home, according to the CBS4 source.

Fourteen people have been shot and two are dead in what may be one of the worst mass shootings in South Florida history.

The shooting took place around 9:30 p.m. outside the Funeraria Latina Emanuel funeral home at 14990 W. Dixie Highway Friday night.

One of the victims, a 43-year-old man, died outside the funeral home, authorities said. The other, a 27-year-old man, died at the hospital. Witnesses at the funeral home had said one of the two people killed was shot in the chest. Their names have not been released.

 Grandma, Ive Been Shot Said Girl Hurt In Gang Related Mass Shooting

Family photo of Mckayla, the 5-year-old girl shot in the leg in the North Miami funeral home shooting. (Source: Someta Etienne)

A 5-year-old girl, identified by her family as Mckayla Bazile, was shot in the leg and hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital along with eleven other victims.

Mckayla’s grandmother told CBS4’s Maggie Newland that the girl has a bullet lodged in her leg bone that doctors do not plan on removing, however, she should fully recover. The grandmother said she was on the phone with Mckayla when the barrage of bullets began and the girl said, “Grandma, I’ve been shot.”

Childhood, Stand Rock, And Gangs

As I was sitting outside this afternoon and reading a young man, no more than 19, who lives in the neighborhood walked by.  I said hello, he responded, and over a couple of minutes we engaged in fast conversation.  As we concluded our chat he said, “Well, have a nice afternoon, sir.”

As he walked away I could only think of one thing. 


I do not feel like a ‘sir.’

But then I read a story in the newspaper that made me think that perhaps I might, after all, be a ‘sir’, or getting to that age where the word might start to apply. 

An article about the latest, fastest, and most dizzying water slides and such at the Wisconsin Dells made note of how it used it be for tourists. 

There was a day when thrills in the Wisconsin Dells area were horse-drawn wagon trips through Lost Canyon, watching a German shepherd leap the gap at Stand Rock and taking a splashing ride on a Duck.

I was one of the young kids who stood utterly amazed at the leaping dog and his owner at Stand Rock.  I was probably no older than ten when my parents took me for a ride on the boats at the Dells.    I do recall it was a weekday, and mom made sandwiches for a lunch that we enjoyed somewhere along the way.  Later at home my dad laid some rope (or perhaps it was baler twine) out on the ground to approximate the distance that I would need to leap in order to mimic what I was so amazed by at the Dells.  I would have needed the safety net!

Kids today require far more excitement so such creations as a 10-story water slide has been installed at the Dells to lure the crowds and their dollars.  Foolish me, all these years I thought riding the Ducks and getting wet was rather fun.

As I smiled about that I stumbled onto another story that made me think about an even greater distance than jumping at Stand Rock.  That is the distance between my youth and some kids today in kindergarten who show signs of gang association.

The Wisconsin State Journal had a long front-page story about the growing problems of gangs in Madison. 

What happened between me being ten, and having such innocent fun, and the story in the paper today about young kids joining gangs and being required to commit a crime, or being beaten in, or ‘sexed in’ if a girl, as an initiation right?  Where did life become so complex?  So angry?  So upside-down?

I wrote a few days ago about Sudan planning to stop the use of children soldiers for their never-ending warfare.  I applauded what I hope will be an end to such a monstrous act.  Children need to be allowed to have a childhood.

But in our own city there is a segment of kids that are trapped for whatever reason in a cycle of violence and doom that to me seems as senseless as the one in Africa.  I would hope that our society has enough programs and money to ensure that we can prevent most of these kids from slipping off the deep end.  But as the story noted a number of kids are not saved in time.

As I sat on the lawn and pondered all this I came back to whether I could clear the distance at Stand Rock today.  I am lean, limber, optimistic and am pretty certain I could.  I also thought about the  troubled kids in the newspaper and wondered if their lives would have been different had their dads put baler twine out on the lawn for them to jump over.

After all, in the end it always comes back to family.