Monday will be the day that Amy Sensor finds out what will be her fate as the result of the killing of Anousone Phanthavong. In many cases, if it wasn't such a high profile defendant, I don't think there would be a lot of questions about whether they were going to prison. Although, that unknown person probably wouldn't have gone through a whole trial and would have turned themselves in and done everything with an eye towards mercy. We have been involved in those cases where there was no prison time because it really was a very tragic accident.
Here there was a whole trial where the Sensor team vigorously fought the charges. While the court is not supposed to use the trial against the defendant, since they are just practicing their rights under the constitution, the court does look to what responsibility the defendant takes. It becomes particularly important when after the sentence and the defendant goes through the probation stage.
Does the defendant take responsibility? Do they at the very least understand that a jury did find them guilty and the fight is somewhat over? Do they move towards discussion of remorse and sympathy for the damage that was caused, even if it was truly unintentional?
The exchange of memos from last week suggest that the fight continues. While it's still a very believable story that she didn't know she hit someone and it was too dark and scary to go back and see, the simple reality is that the jury didn't believe her. She did kill someone.
The argument also goes back to the gap in the law that I have addressed in the past.
The Amy Sensor Hit and Run Case Has a Number of Interesting Parts, Mike Bryant | October 17, 2011 9:35 AM
Yet another reminder why the Minnesota legislature really needs to look at the possibility for a gross misdemeanor in these cases that end up being charged out with the lesser misdemeanor. The problem for the Sensor team is that with the heightened issues that usually drive prosecutors not to charge the felony, she was convicted. So to argue that the law is unfair actually doesn't fit here in the same manner after the jury trial.
I remember one of the first cases I ever worked on after I became a lawyer. My boss at the time, John Bradshaw, was representing a teenager who had been driving prom night when everyone decided to drag race. He'd had a couple of beers and lost control, killing his girlfriend. He went to prison despite never intending for it to happen. It wasn't the highest sentence possible, but watching a young person head to years in confinement has always bothered me.
Sensor will have many letters of support and will always be a high profile case. She also never expected in all of her activities, to ever be going to prison. The problem is that she did something that requires a tough sentence. The trial itself was the big gamble and there was a verdict. Justice and the Anousone Phanthavong memory require the result.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.