Archived Story

Editorial: Supreme Court ruling good for Minnesota justice

Published 9:37am Monday, September 30, 2013

We commend the Minnesota Supreme Court for last week overturning a Freeborn County District Court ruling on the subject of restitution.

The point of the justice system is to offer justice, but for whom? For society? For the government? For victims? For lawyers and judges? For the sheer sake of deterrence? Justice, like art, is in the eye of the beholder.

In our view, the justice system is meant to provide justice for victims. In cases where property is damaged, stolen, lost or destroyed, what better justice is there than getting the value of that property back?

It’s almost like Parenting 101 — “Mom, Bobby took my toy.” “Give it back, Bobby.” — except that it takes an entire court system to tell some adults to do the right thing.

Restitution is when judges order lawbreakers to compensate victims for their losses. It sounds basic and simple, but too often, lawbreakers would finish probation and not complete their restitution. The fact is — and this is throughout our country — in between the paper shuffling, the legal hassling and the time serving, repaying the victims — the actual justice — gets lost.

Assistant Freeborn County Attorney David Walker cares about the victims and believes restitution matters. Criminals shouldn’t get off the hook just because they have completed probation.

The Supreme Court decision allows judges to extend probation to the statutory limit should the lawbreaker fail to complete restitution requirements. Now, criminals are going to have a greater incentive to compensate victims. Pay up or be on probation longer.

Walker told our reporter: “I think this is an excellent result from the Supreme Court that will help us recover more restitution for victims.”

We couldn’t agree more.