||Saturday, January 26, 2002|
The recent letter (Forum, Jan. 20) by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff was nothing more than a simple attempt to protect his political hide by using his position to gain credibility by misrepresenting facts in a forum where facts are not checked. In view of his position, The Tribune should have been more aware of this.
For instance, it seems to me that allowing Shurtleff to refer to the family of several elderly and terminal patients who died under the care of a physician as "victims" of that doctor without any determination as to the facts of the case is simply bias and an attempt to sway potential jurors. While Utah law may give "victims" a right to representation it is not clear that Utah law gives "alleged victims" the same right when there is no proof that any crime occurred.
In most cases the fact that a crime occurred is known and the question is who was the perpetrator. In this case, the "perpetrator" is known, the question is did a crime occur. After all, this was the case of elderly patients dying under a physician's care, something that occurs every day under the best of medical care. Just because the Davis County prosecutors have made a terrible blunder in this instance doesn't give the "alleged victims" or the attorney general or the Davis County prosecutors or anyone else the right to squash the criminally accused doctor's right to a fair trial.
Let's look at the motivation here. All the state has to do is get some sort of conviction for almost any offense and these prosecutors will escape political liability for their incompetence. The Tribune should not be joining in this attempt but should, rather, be attempting to allow the truth come to light.
FRANKLIN J. DAY, M.D.
Walnut Creek, Calif.
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