"Justice for Desmond?" How About Equal Justice For All? (Updated)

I was encouraged the other day to see a phalanx of protesters outside the New Haven courthouse on Elm Street. There looked to be 30 or so people, many with signs, standing on the courthouse steps just after 9 a.m. As I got nearer to the steps, I strained to read a row of signs held by five protestors.

"I was tortured," said one. "I was beaten," said another. "I was starved," a third reported. The next read, "I was killed."

Okay, I thought. A complaint about police brutality. I sighed. There is little public understanding about the extent to which the law permits police officers to use force, even deadly force. Almost daily my office gets calls from folks complaining about police brutality. In all but a few cases, I don’t see much in the callers’ complaints that give legal ground for a complaint. It is sad but true: we get the law enforcement we deserve. Our broad tolerance of police violence all but guarantees gratuitous ass-kickings. The fact that most of the recipients of this violence are members of the underclass or people of color keeps this ugly reality hidden from plain view.

As I got closer to the courthouse I noticed something unusual for a protest of this sort. All, or almost all, of the faces in the crowd were white. This is a good, I thought. Folks are waking up to the reality of the streets. Then I read the last in the series of signs: "My name is Desmond."

Who is Desmond? I don’t read the papers as often as I would like. I couldn’t place the name. Was he some kid beaten senseless for videotaping an arrest?

As I walked through the crowd other signs made clear who Desmond was: Desmond was a pit bull/boxer dog killed by his owner, and his body dumped in a Madison pond. All these protestors had turned out on a Tuesday morning to demand harsh punishment for the dog’s killer.

The dog’s owner, Alex Wulleart, 22, was in court that morning facing animal cruelty charges. He was in court seeking accelerated rehabilitation, a diversionary plea that would permit him to get treatment while on probation and then have the charges dismissed. The "Justice for Desmond" protestors don’t think that’s right. They want Mr. Wulleart to face the maximum penalty. Later that morning, protestors sat in court to make sure the judge knew that justice for Desmond meant coming down hard on Wulleart.

Forgive me if I view the protest as an obscene farce.

Don’t get me wrong. I am passionate about dogs. I love my border collies with an intensity I cannot easily describe. Animals bring out the best in me. They stir some inchoate sense of loyalty and devotion that I find hard to express with all but a very few people. I am fiercely protective of my dogs, as they are of me.

But I couldn’t help but wonder about the gathering of the white faces on the courthouse steps to protest the killing of an animal. I didn’t recognize any of these faces from the almost entirely black and Hispanic crowd that turned up on the town green to protest the lack of police activity when Trayvon Martin, a young black man, was killed in Florida. I did not recognize any of the faces from other protests on the courthouse steps when New Haven residents turned out to protest police misconduct or the impact of the so-called war on drugs.

It takes a dog-killing in paradise to drawn white faces to the courthouse steps in protest? And then the cry is to throw the book at a young man who most likely needs psychiatric help, and not a prison cell. If you don’t think race matters in the United States, that the color line still separates and divides in life-defining ways, then you just aren’t paying attention.

Suburban white folks march on New Haven to demand justice for a dead dog. They stay home when cries for justice arise about a dead black child. There’s something simply perverse and twisted about this. Why is it so much easier to care for dogs than our fellow man? I wanted to stop and ask the protestors, but I didn’t. I kept walking, wondering whether we’ll ever get race right in this country. I am afraid I know the answer, but I am even more afraid to stop wondering about how and why race defines who we are.

UPDATE: Thanks for all the comments, I suppose. I think they are all posted. Not sure if I saw them all. Those I read lead me to the conclusion that Desmond had more intelligence than some of his supporters. Res ipsa, my friends.

 

Comments (34)
Posted on June 15, 2012 at 6:12 pm by Justice for the Alpaca
Justice for the Alpaca
http://www.scribd.com/doc/92900418/RoscettiWarrant You represent the alpaca killer

Posted on June 13, 2012 at 6:32 pm by phil
justice for desmond
Shame on you for pulling the colour card. I write this from Vancouver Canada. I want to see justice for all animal abusers. It doesn't matter the colour of the supporters. The fact they are out there, is all that matters. I call shame on you, race card indeed.

Posted on June 13, 2012 at 10:59 am by Justice for the Alpaca
Justice for the Alpaca
http://www.scribd.com/doc/92900418/RoscettiWarrant You represent the alpaca killer

Posted on June 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm by Diane ANIMAL RIGHTS campbell
Justice for Desmond
How dare you disrespect this beautiful innocent dog by using the color card? WTF does race have to do with any of this? That white trash Wulleart deserves more than jail bu I wont say any more than that. How dare you. HOW DARE YOU try to take away from him by using the color card. U make me puke. You and that filthy little weasel Wulleart -coward dog killing dog torturing- dog murdering trash. Your pathetic Mr. Lawyer man. Your a bleeding heart of the worst kind. Wipe your behind with the black card.

Posted on June 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm by Diane ANIMAL RIGHTS campbell
Justice for Desmond
How dare you disrespect this beautiful innocent dog by using the color card? WTF does race have to do with any of this? That white trash Wulleart deserves more than jail bu I wont say any more than that. How dare you. HOW DARE YOU try to take away from him by using the color card. U make me puke. You and that filthy little weasel Wulleart -coward dog killing dog torturing- dog murdering trash. Your pathetic Mr. Lawyer man. Your a bleeding heart of the worst kind. Wipe your behind with the black card.

Posted on June 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm by Jamie Currier
"Please stop trying to turn a tragedy into a racial, economic divide.
"Please stop trying to turn a tragedy into a racial, economic divide." Said it well. This is a tragedy. This is also a warning sign as to what is to come from this man. The fact that you can look at any issue and bring race into it is alarming and shows how segregated your thinking is. We're animal lovers, we're compassionate and leave out no species OR race. So please, write FOR Desmond, not against him.

Posted on June 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm by abe
desmond
et tu?
one cannot disagree? I thought narrowmindedness wasn't a virtue.

Posted on June 7, 2012 at 9:54 am by kaycee
Follow up to your update
Your update is insulting. I used to have some level of respect for you even though I haven't always agreed with your opinions. Obviously that respect is unwarranted as you clearly feel some sense of superiority and lack of respect to your fellow human beings. That you feel compelled to make condescending remarks speaks volumes about you. "The thing that speaks for itself"? Yes that certainly sums it up for me.

Posted on June 7, 2012 at 8:24 am by Justice for Humans
Justice for Desmond
Seems like Norm hit the nail on its head. So much outrage. I have asked myself that question many times. Why is it white people come out in groves when the abused is an animal yet not even a whisper when the abused is a human being. Don't get your panties in a twist because he challenged you about something you rather not think about or even admit to yourselves.

Posted on June 7, 2012 at 7:56 am by Diane Campbell
Shame on Pattis
Pattis u r a coward, racist and a clown. I would be ashamed to ever write anything so ridiculous. But your little dog killing friend there...dont worry....your throwing the race card into a white boy torturing his dog wont work. He is a animal abusing worthless evil POS and I am going to be in that courtroom to make sure AR isnt in his forcast. You should be disbarred for being a racist -and a low life. How dare you defend an animal torturing little punk? Wipe your behind with your race card BS.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 11:14 pm by Keith
Justice For Desmond
I just want to know one thing. What the hell does race have to do with any of this and who are you to bring it up. This is about an animal abuser who obviously has some major problems and needs to be brought to justice!

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 8:23 pm by abe
justice for Desmond
much too quick with the quill. perhaps the treatment of animals, and humans for that matter, differs among racial lines as you noted, "all white faces were protesting". how dare you drag the trayvon case into this; not a police brutality case, and we still don't know facts. you,as an atty, should know better. and, you're right, separation remains; rarely do you see a minority supporting a "white face".

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 7:59 pm by Christina Blamire (Tina Bee)
Justice for All
I am one of the "white faces" you didn't recognize while walking by and casting judgement. You didn't recognize me because you don't know me. You see my white face but do not see the Cherokee Indian grandfather that is in my blood. You also must have missed the 20+ "colored faces" that joined us throughout the day, learned of what happened, thanked us and happily held a Desmond sign.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 7:46 pm by PC
Justice for Desmond
Attorney Pattis: The protestors were PEOPLE speaking up for an animal that met an unspeakable end. That's it. Why would you try to make an argument tying race into the protest? Why are we giving this attorney free advertising?

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 7:01 pm by DESMOND
PATTIS
Forgive me if I view YOU AND YOUR DEFENSE OF MY MURDERER as a obscene farce.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 7:01 pm by DESMOND
PATTIS
Forgive me if I view YOU AND YOUR DEFENSE OF MY MURDERER as a obscene farce.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 6:59 pm by Diane Campbell
TO william doriss
You call us naysayers WILLIAM DORISS! Your a disgusting convicted animal abuser. Naysayers? This dirt bag confessed and was caught. SO you sir are nothing but an evil animal abuser. You should however be in jail being called Willma!

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 6:51 pm by Theodora
Justice for Desmond
You really want to make this about race? There is more prejudice aimed at Pit Bulls right now than any other breed. That ANY living thing was tortured and killed should concern a man earning his living attempting to uphold the law. SO WHAT if the people protesting were white? It isn't about color, it is about principal. The only "obscene farce" is that you even wrote this piece for your blog. I would think you could channel your bid to gain attention in more productive ways.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm by Harriett
Justice for Desmond
As an attorney, I would think you would have the sense to realize that the person who commits any animal abuse is headed down the road to becoming an abuser of children, women and on to serial killing. This needs to be take very seriously. Making it a racial concern is ridiculous. Why weren't there any people of color here might be the better question. Is true compassion only expressed by the white race? Keep an eye on this guy. You might get a chance to defend him when he becomes a serial killer.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm by Gorman Bechard
gutless
Didn't have the balls to post my longer statement, did you Norm. Pathetic.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 6:07 pm by Harriett
Justice for Desmond
As an attorney, I would think you would have the sense to realize that the person who commits any animal abuse is headed down the road to becoming an abuser of children, women and on to serial killing. This needs to be take very seriously. Making it a racial concern is ridiculous. Why weren't there any people of color here might be the better question. Is true compassion only expressed by the white race? Keep an eye on this guy. You might get a chance to defend him when he becomes a serial killer.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm by william doriss
Cruelty to Animals &Racism
Let me say this to all the naysayers below. I was falsely and maliciously convicted of 'cruelty to animals' in the very same N.H. Courthouse. It was

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm by Scott
Desmond
Wow... you would think Norm Pattis had more savvy than to think up this nonsense. He's not interested in justice, he's just interested in his small idea of justice in relation to race because thats how he makes his living...protecting those even if their guilty of a crime to satisfy his own slant on racism. He is a "hero" of sorts in his own mind. He's the kinda guy that would defend Alex Wullaert. One small minded man who must think the world of himself to write that dribble.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 5:09 pm by Raven Reed
Neighbor?
You sir, are this murder's neighbor? Trying to help a neighbor out, eh? Distract the community from what's happened? Silly man! You're address is public record....does anyone else want the address of the man who is trying to help his neighbor get away with murder?

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm by Kayte
Please
Please step off your high horse and get down in the trenches with us 'suburban white folks'. We welcome all, even self righteous attorney's trying to take the focus off the real issues. For the record, my suburban white butt came from Bridgeport. Several other suburban white butts came from other parts of the North East, all types of neighborhoods. Save your judgement for someone who deserves it. Like maybe a criminal.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm by Kara
Your view
test

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm by Gorman Bechard
P.S.
In fact, Norm, to even bring up race here, makes you the racist.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm by Tiffany
Desmond
I am.a middle class white girl. I grew up in Branford, CT. I grew up with dogs, as well as friends of various cultures and backgrounds. I live in Washington, D.C., where I work in a predominantly black, predominantly poor population, in a preschool. My heart aches for innocent animals that are harmed, as well as human beings who are senselessly injured or killed. Please stop trying to turn a tragedy into a racial, economic divide.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm by kaycee
Justice for Desmond
Your comments and observations are short sighted, to say the least. If the only thing you came away with from this was the color of people's skin and some incorrect assessments of what motivates and moves them you are certainly not the intelligent attorney you pretend to be.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm by V.J
Desmond
I would think you would ask yourself why no people of color showed up to demand justice for Desmond.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 11:15 am by brenda mccullough
justice for desmond
What the heck does this have to do with race,this is about justice for a dead dog.I wasnt there but do you think if a black person would have showed up that they would have been denied. seems to me you are trying to stir things up.

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 10:48 am by Kate
Seriously?
So it's the protesters fault that they are white? That people of other races didn't join them?

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 10:33 am by Diane Campbell
JUSTICE FOR DESMOND
So what you are not allowing comments to defend Desmond?

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 10:29 am by Dee
Justice For Desmond
I don't understand the mentality of a person like this, Norman Pattis. Did he miss the memo that animal cruelty leads to people abuse, our animal abuser has already abused people. Very unprofessional to criticize people for trying to make a difference, in any capacity. Shame on Norman Pattis .
For Display:
Confidential:
(Won't be displayed with comment)

Comment must be approved,
then will show on this page.

What is the month?
x

About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

Personal Website

www.normpattis.com
www.normpattis.com

Law Firm Website

www.pattislawfirm.com
www.pattislawfirm.com

I believe that the state is a necessary fiction and that failing to combat it is the first step toward tyranny.
– Norm Pattis

Disclaimer:

Nothing in this blog should be considered legal advice about your case. You need a lawyer who understands the context of your life and situation. What are offered here are merely suggested lines of inquiry you may explore with your lawyer.

Pattis Video