Some people say I do not know Marcus Barrington well enough to write this piece. I knew him well enough to be one of only a handful of people selected to testify as a character witness during Marcus’ sentencing. So I believe this gives me a unique perspective on him and his unfortunate situation.
Barringtons’ trial was hard for those closest to him but we kept our faith in the judicial system. Everyone knows that, historically, black males are unable to receive fair and just treatment under the law because of this country’s legacy of racism and discrimination, but we believed that this time would be different.
Having a black judge, Stephan Mickle, also contributed to this mistaken belief that he would receive a fair trial. Testimony after testimony, and day after day of trial, the case went to the jury and we were sure that Barrington would be acquitted based on the evidence. When Barrington was found guilty on many charges, we were crushed to find that our worst fears had come true.
The judge called Barrington “arrogant” and “prideful.” For a black man it should be commended when he is confident enough to look another man square in the eye. But in this situation, Judge Mickle wanted Barrington to beg for forgiveness. Barringtons’ self-assured nature became his downfall. Barrington was not tried for his crime; he was tried for his confidence.
Barrington was jailed for over six months prior to his sentencing. Knowing of the sentencing guidelines for five years for computer fraud and two years for identity theft, we were not hopeful for a light sentence. We also knew that Barrington was a special case and had been judged as arrogant by court officials, so the odds of a short sentence were slim to none.
Those of us closest to Marcus were almost positive that he would be used as a scapegoat.
Barringtons’ lawyer noted that sentences of no more than one year in prison had been given around the country for similar offenses, but Judge Stephan Mickle was too concerned with Barringtons’ confidence to take similar cases into consideration.
Earlier, the same judge sentenced a man convicted of having child pornography to eight years in prison, one year more than Barrington. This same man was also allowed to remain free on bond until October 22 while Marcus was presented to us shackled for sentencing.
Judge Mickle does know not Marcus like his friends and family know him. One character witness even noted that Marcus was raised to be confident, but the judge saw conceit and not confidence.
If he had known Marcus, he would have known that Marcus is not cocky. He is not arrogant; he is assured of himself. Marcus did not deserve seven years in prison and the world will not be better served to have him incarcerated.
Rondrea Danielle Mathis is a second year graduate English education student from Miami. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org