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Dr. Wilmer Leon Speaks on the Heather Ellis Case

by on November 2, 2009

Dr. Wilmer Leon, Howard University

One of the things that make America unique is its Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights. In its original form, the Constitution did not include a list of basic civil liberties or guarantees to the individual. Many prominent Americans, including Thomas Jefferson insisted that a list of fundamental protections be included to restrain the national government from tampering with the fundamental rights and civil liberties of its citizens. The intent of the framers of the Constitution was to level the playing field. They felt it necessary to restrain the very powerful government, prosecutors, and police from arbitrary and capricious action against the less powerful individual. Over time these protections have been passed down to the state level.

The case of Heather Ellis is a perfect present day example of why individual American citizens need to be protected from over zealous capricious prosecutors and police. For a young woman to be facing up to fifteen years in prison for trespassing, disturbing the peace, and two felony counts of assaulting a police officer, all for allegedly cutting a check-out line at a Wal-Mart is unconscionable.

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