By Rev. Edward Pinkney, 5/15/17
A Berrien County judge on Monday, who is known for being tough on Blacks, handed down a ridiculously light prison sentence to a white man who shot at a semi driver on I94 last September, with the judge singling out the defendant’s military service as the reason for his ridiculously mild sentence.
Norris pleaded guilty in February to assault with the intent to do great bodily harm, but less than murder, and to the discharge of a firearm from a motor vehicle. Both are ten-year felonies and felony firearm punishable by a mandatory two-year prison term to be served prior to any others.
Schofield ordered Norris to serve the mandatory two-year term for firing a firearm during the commission of a felony! This is followed by only a one to 10-year sentence for the actual assault charge and only 186 days concurrent for the discharge of a weapon from a motor vehicle: i.e., a drive-by shooting!
Norris will also get credit on the two-year term for 186 days served in Berrien County jail. He was ordered to pay only $896 in restitution to the trucking company for which the semi driver Shotko was driving.
Judge Scott Schofield deviated from the sentencing guidelines because Norris is a white man. The sentencing guidelines range from a minimum of 19-38 months for assault with the intent to kill and a minimum of 10-23 months for discharging a weapon.
The danger Mr. Norris put the public in by his actions is very serious and dangerous. Norris is a danger to the public, but he was given a mere slap on the wrist! Norris also shot at another vehicle on I94 a few miles down the road, but he was given a very, very light sentence.
The prosecutor and the judge came out to support Norris, who could have killed several people on a major highway in his assault with the intent to kill and discharge of a weapon several times on I94 while traveling over 75 mph in his vehicle. Judges compete to be the toughest on crime, especially when a Black man is involved; therefore, it is extremely unfortunate that Norris was given only a slap on the wrist and was told to not do this anymore!
The people who are financing these elections are largely unconcerned with whatever modest differences exist between candidates on crime, as long as they are tough on crime. When judges fail to impose the most severe punishment, it is overlooked unless the offender is a minority.
Norris is a white man who received a slap on the wrist by one of the most corrupt judges in Berrien County’s trial court. This is just one of many cases, when it comes to white defendants in Berrien County, that are treated with great leniency. We must lose the chains on the minorities and we must confront the corrupt criminal justice system.