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Former actress seeking appeal in fatal motor vehicle accident

It's easy to think of the American justice system as dispensing justice in the classic criminal justice sense of the word. Just the mention of that phrase conjures up images of convicts in black and white stripped pajamas locked in small cells behind iron bars. There is also a less dramatic form of justice, a form of punishment which might not seem as severe but can certainly teach someone a lesson. That type of justice can be found in civil lawsuits for monetary damages. A recent case involving a fatal motor vehicle accident in New Jersey illustrates this point well.

In 2010, a New Jersey court convicted Amy Locane-Bovenizer of vehicular manslaughter and assault by auto for crashing into a vehicle and killing a woman inside as her husband was pulling into their driveway. Tests revealed that Locane-Bovenizer's blood alcohol levels were three times the legal limit when the accident occurred. She had faced 10 years at sentencing, but despite the egregious level of her intoxication the judge gave her a rather lenient sentence after considering the hardship her incarceration would impose on her children. One of Locane-Bovenizer's kids is mentally and physically challenged.

Recently, she has returned to petition the court to allow a public defender to assist her with an appeal of her three-year sentence. The public defender gave his estimated cost for the appeal at $34,000. The Somerset County prosecutors oppose the request and say that the defendant and her husband are not indigent, and therefore not deserving of state assistance.

Can you imagine how the husband of the deceased victim must feel? It was not enough for this defendant to receive a reduced penalty for her reckless crime, but now she is seeking to escape even that light punishment. It is unclear whether the victim's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against this woman, but this is a clear example of when that form of civil punishment would be appropriate. If you have been deprived of a loved one because of a preventable death you should know that there are legal methods for you to extract a form of civil punishment.

Source: CBS New York, "Former TV, Movie Actress Seeks Public Defender To Appeal Conviction For N.J. Fatal DWI" No author given, Apr. 09, 2014

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