To no one’s surprise, the house arrest-probation-psychiatric evaluation-community service sentence handed Jennifer Porter by Judge Lamar Battles met with a polarizing response.
A case can certainly be made that she got off easy after her hit-and-run accident left behind two dead children and a distraught mother. The racial rationales were as expected as they were understandable.
But of all the factors that mitigated matters in favor of Porter, none was more critical than her counsel. She had access to Barry Cohen. We should all be so fortunate when we’re dead wrong.
Cohen was able to marshal psychiatric testimony that obviously impressed Battles, inevitably cast as a poor man’s Solomon. In effect, the judge was apprised, Porter was traumatized by the accident and was in the throes of diminished capacity when she drove off in an altered state.
In reality, this carried the day – not the color of her skin.