By Jeff Simpson
Some people can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the best legal representation in the country to make sure that they keep a layer between themselves and actual criminal charges.
Others, in a matter of unthinking seconds, do something stupid that unfortunately hangs over their shoulders.
People were very upset when a judge excused murder in Texas recently, with the excuse of affluenza. However, affluenza has been a problem with our justice system for as long as we have had a justice system. The problem, comes when the people who benefit from affluenza, do not understand that they are, and render harsh judgements on others who are not so lucky.
No better example of this exists than right here in Wisconsin, so much so, it even made the New York Times.
Eric Pizer comes from small town WI, Boscobel to be exact, and when Mr. Pizer was still in high school, he knew he wanted to serve his country:
A straight-up Marine, he had committed to the corps even before his high school graduation in 2000, and was at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina a year later when an officer interrupted a class on sexually transmitted diseases to share the latest from Lower Manhattan.Mr. Pizer, like many others, wanted to serve his country, but at the time, no one knew how complex and intense that service would be:
We got bombed, boys, the officer announced. We’re going to war.
Mr. Pizer spent half of 2003 in Kuwait and Iraq, fueling tanks and trucks in a tense environment. He returned for seven more months in 2004, this time as a corporal who felt so responsible for the “newbies” on his team that he extended his tour by two months.Mr. Pizer felt a responsibility to his men, and would not go home until he knew they were safe. Mr. Pizer, home on leave, trying to leave the demons of Iraq behind him for a while(he still had three months left of duty) was partying with friends and chasing girls.
Typical, in small town WI, boys will be boys, especially when beer and women are thrown into the testosterone mixBefore long things get quickly out of control, and as so often happens, things also quickly get back into control.
Now he was cutting the September cool of a southwestern Wisconsin night, bound for Boscobel to hang out with a buddy’s cousin and two other women he had never met before.The men and women drank and played cards in the cousin’s garage, then headed to Snick’s Fin ‘n Feather to shoot some pool and drink some more. When they returned to the garage, two local men, one of them named Steven Frazier, stepped in to disrupt the free-and-easy night.
Mr. Pizer, willingly accepted the punishment for his instant overreaction:Mr. Frazier believed that an out-of-towner — not Mr. Pizer — had gotten a little too familiar with one of the women: his wife. There soon followed beer-fueled shoves and shouts about straying hands and absent wedding rings.Mr. Pizer, 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, and Mr. Frazier, 5-foot-10 and 140 pounds, both claim to have been trying to keep the peace. But Mr. Pizer says that he heard Mr. Frazier threaten to kill one of his buddies, saw movement and reacted with his right hand.“I just popped him once,” he said.
That pop pushed Mr. Frazier’s nose nearly two inches to the right. He went to the hospital, while Mr. Pizer went to a bar nearly 30 miles away, where, he says, he all but held out his hands to be cuffed when the police found him.The problem is, Mr. Pizer, who had previously never been in trouble, did not know at the time exactly how harsh the punishment would be. See Mr. Pizer did not have Diane Hendricks writing him checks so he could hire John Gallo and Michael Steinle to help him duck the charges.
Fast forward ten years, and now Mr. Pizer, a lifelong Wisconsin resident, veteran, father and contributing member of society(how not been in trouble since) and has tried his best to make amends for those few stupid seconds in 2004. He has even reached out, apologized, and made amends to Mr. Frazier.Mr. Pizer finished the last three months of his Marine hitch in North Carolina, then returned to learn the sobering news that his status as a first-time offender, just back from war, was not enough to convince the prosecutor, Anthony J. Pozorski Sr., to reduce the felony battery charge to a misdemeanor.Back then, Mr. Pizer did not fully understand the consequences of having a felony on his record. “I had never been in trouble before,” he said. “I wasn’t quite prepared.”
More time passed. Then, a few months ago, an organization called Ridge and Valley Restorative Justice asked Mr. Frazier whether he would meet with the man who broke his nose. After a month of “sorting it out,” he says, he agreed to meet one February evening.
Now, in Boscobel’s community center, next to the Art Deco movie theater, two nervous men in their early 30s talked at length about one night from their early 20s, while two representatives from Restorative Justice mediated.
Mr. Pizer explained that Iraq had probably wound him up. He said that he liked to make people laugh, and usually avoided fights at all cost — except on this one night. Mr. Frazier said that, well, this one night had affected his looks, his breathing, and even his children.
“I don’t think I said sorry more times in my entire life,” Mr. Pizer said. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It was never my intention to get into a fight that night. I never meant to.” They talked some more. Then Mr. Pizer asked for forgiveness.
About 85 miles to the east, in the Capitol in Madison, the power of forgiveness goes untapped. But here in Boscobel, Mr. Frazier studied the penitent man before him, and then said it:
“I forgive you.”
Mr. Pizer felt a release, and stuck out his right hand. It was received in a good, firm grip.
See that is how life works on this crazy spinning globe. People, especially young boys, do things that are stupid all the time. Then, hopefully, they realize that is not what makes you a man. What makes you a man is when you realize what you did was stupid and accept the punishment and make amends and move forward. As the late great Maya Angelou said:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” - Maya Angelou
The problem Mr. Pizer has now, is he longs to make a better life for himself and his family and he wants to continue to serve the public as a police officer. However as a felon he is unable to legally carry a gun.
The only way he can move on with his life's goals is to receive a pardon from Governor Scott Walker. The problem Mr. Pizer faces, is that Governor Scott Walker refuses to issue pardons. Scott Walker even acknowledges that there are thousands of people that are deserving of pardon's, but he inexplicably, has no interest in actually doing so.
Scott Walker, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, feels its more important to spend weekends begging disgusting billionaires for money than to spend a few minutes with a lifelong Wisconsin veteran who just needs a break.
I guess Mr. Pizer has not donated enough money to get his story heard.
Maya Angelou also had another famous quote:
“When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”
― Maya Angelou
How many times does Scott Walker need to show us who he is before we believe him?