Friday, December 01, 2006

Stupid Is As Stupid Does. Or Is The Problem Something Else?

( When I put together the first part of this, I played the story for laughs. Perhaps that angle is inappropriate now? You decide.)

Nineteen-year-old Devin K. Hoerauf just keeps getting into trouble. According to this article in the Washington Post,
...Hoerauf first appeared before [Judge] Boynton years ago on juvenile charges. He pleaded guilty this summer to second-degree assault after an incident in Silver Spring. He was charged with robbery in June after he and some friends were suspected of stealing bikes from a group of younger teenagers near the MARC train station in Germantown....

[Possible spew alert! Protect your keyboard and monitor before scrolling down!]

Hoerauf's situation worsened in his last court appearance:
...As Devin K. Hoerauf's robbery trial in Rockville was wrapping up Tuesday afternoon [November 21], the 19-year-old accidentally dropped a bag of marijuana on the floor when he stood up at the defense table.

The judge's assistant noticed a plastic bag containing "a green, leafy substance" and pointed it out to a Montgomery County deputy sheriff, who picked it up and added two misdemeanor charges...

[Don't pick up that beverage yet!]

Hoerauf's defense attorney was certainly placed in a tough position:
To make matters worse, his mother, a defense lawyer, was by his side at the time -- representing him.
What did his mother have to say about her son's recent flub? First, she stated that jail would not help him. And she went on:
"I'm going to say it in a very crass way, and I hope he forgives me," she said.

"He is brain-damaged, your honor. I don't mean he's just a defendant who does dumb stuff. This is a boy with an IQ in triple digits. His brain is glued together with Silly Putty. He can't think his way out of a paper bag, but he can do physics."
I suppose that most of us know somebody like David K. Hoerauf. I'm not referring necessarily to a pothead, but rather to somebody who just doesn't have any sense despite a high IQ. Nominations for others in the stupid-is-as-stupid-does category?


After I wrote the above, a week later I found the following letter to the editor:
What The Post Didn't Say About My Son

In a Nov. 25 Metro article, "Marijuana Multiplies Suspect's Problems," I was quoted as telling a judge that my son, Devin Hoerauf, is "brain-damaged" and has a brain "glued together with Silly Putty." The context of those comments was omitted: My son has autism.

The story may be fitting for "America's Dumbest Criminals," but the newsworthy aspect to the story is that prosecutors in the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office are aggressively seeking the imprisonment of a boy who they know suffers from autism. Devin has never physically hurt or threatened anyone. Coincidentally, I, his mother, am a criminal defense attorney.

In the most recent trial, my son was charged with six counts of robbery and one count of conspiracy. The trial revealed that he never touched, threatened or stole from anyone. I did not speak to the jury or examine witnesses during the trial. I was there to help Devin communicate with his actual attorney, Andrew Jezic.

It is unfortunate that The Post is more interested in reporting snippets about a "brain-damaged" defendant than in reporting on a major educational and health crisis. The failure of our society to provide services for autistic people is newsworthy, not dropping pot in a courtroom.

If Devin Hoerauf does have autism, documentation regarding his disability should have been presented to the court. And if such documentation is produced, should autism be recognized as an excuse for escaping incarceration?

The following portion of Ms. Hoerauf's letter appears to contradict facts presented in the above-cited article in the Washington Post:
The jury, which was not in the courtroom for the marijuana bust, convicted Hoerauf on four counts of robbery and acquitted him on two counts of robbery and one charge of conspiracy.
So what's the truth here? If the Washington Post published a correction to the article about Hoerauf, I missed it.

Before finalizing this blog article, I did a tiny bit of research on autism. According to this interview which appeared on Newsweek's web site, diagnosing certain forms of autism is not easy:
Los Angeles, CA: What is the difference between Autism, High-Functioning Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Development Disorder? Or is it just in the eye of the diagnoser?

Barbara Kantrowitz [biography]: These are all different disorders on the autism spectrum. All are characterized by three basic issues: language problems, repetitive behaviors and difficulty with social interaction. People on the high-functioning end of the spectrum, particularly those with Asperger syndrome, have the best chance of establishing an independent life. I understand why you would question diagnosis, but you should understand that these definitions are relatively new and it takes a while for the latest information to filter down to doctors around the country.
Ms. Kantrowitz recently co-wrote a lengthy article on autism, but I don't recall any discussion of a link between autism and crime. I have to wonder if such a connection exists, beyond this, from the Autism Society of America:
Unfortunately, individuals with autism are too often victims of crimes....
Also, when I was doing my bit of research, I found the following, from a UK blog:
The National Autistic Society has said there is no link between autism, including Asperger Syndrome, and crime - and there was no evidence to suggest people with autism were more likely to break the law than any member of the public.

In a statement, the society said: "In fact, in many cases individuals are unusually concerned to keep to the letter of the law. A person with autism will have individual personality traits and facets to their character, just like any other person, that make up who they are and determine their actions."...
As advocates for care and recognition of autism attempt to improve the situation of those who manifest signs along the spectrum of autism, these advocates should be careful that they don't sink to "the Twinkie defense."


At 12/01/2006 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds like one of Ducky's film students. The Duck is probably making a film version Stupid Cons Smoking and will enter it in Cannes

At 12/01/2006 9:55 AM, Blogger nanc said...

guess there's an excuse for everything - no good reasons, but extremely lame excuses.

this nation, especially, has taken victimhood to such heights that ordinary, law-abiding citizens have no defense whatsoever when and if our time comes.

cop to ordinary speeder, "did you know i clocked you going 50 in a 35? so what's your excuse?"

"why, yes i was, sir - i have no excuse...i apologize."

cop to victim speeder, "did you know i clocked you going 50 in a 35? so what's your excuse?"

"uh, officer - the road was standing too still and my, my, my foot felt really heavy - i think it was asleep - and i can't read because they didn't teach me well in school so couldn't 'cipher what the speedometer was saying - and i forgot one of my medications - yeah, that's the ticket..."

At 12/01/2006 10:36 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

cop to victim speeder, "did you know i clocked you going 50 in a 35? so what's your excuse?"

"uh, officer - the road was standing too still and my, my, my foot felt really heavy - ...

Or, "Officer, it was the first beautiful day of spring. I put down the top, and the car got away from me."

No, I've never used that excuse. But a few years ago, when my husband once was in court for a speeding ticket, the judge excused his hauling down the road like a maniac with that last sentence.

At 12/01/2006 10:46 AM, Blogger nanc said...

my husband got a speeding ticket a few years ago and rather than tell the h.p. that i worked for them (an unwritten rule - you don't ticket family or their members) - he took the ticket, went to the eight hour driving school and paid the fine.

when i questioned him as to why - he said, "because i was guilty." i've learned much from this virtuous man. if i could have an nth of his integrity, why, i'd be the head of some convent somewhere!

fortunately, i strive to follow all traffic laws and rarely go over the speed limit. i'd rather be late for work than get a ticket for speeding. i wasn't always this way...i used to love going 125 in my uncles caddy!

At 12/01/2006 10:59 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

My husband has a lead foot, especially when driving the Mustang. I, on the other hand, usually obey the posted limits. Occasionally, I'm late because of my restrained driving, but I'd rather be late than have to pay the fine and the extra insurance.

At 12/01/2006 11:29 AM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

I can tell you one thing, we have a little girl in church who is on the autism spectrum, and she is often of in her own little world, she is still learning appropriate behavior. But she will be mainstreamed into regular classes next year because she's doing so well. Like real ADD and ADHD, all it takes is time, patience, love and consistancy! Like any child, just more.


At 12/01/2006 1:26 PM, Blogger Raven said...

It's like Dumb and Dumber...

Mom and son; which is which is up to the readers to decide.

At 12/01/2006 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ADD? I suspect That went up 50% after the invention of the remote control, 50% after the invention of the mouse, and another 50% with the invention of digital TV (So you can watch 8 news-channels at once).

...wait a minute... isn't that 150%? It's gotta be more than that!

...and with so many computer games out there today, I'm surprised more kids aren't diagnosed w/autism. Kids are either glued to TV's or chained to computers. Nobody plays stick-ball anymore.

At 12/01/2006 3:04 PM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

FJ- There is an Asimov tale out there about a planet, where after the age of 12, there is no human to human contact, except for arranged marriages. And even the couples don't live together. It was strange. Causes a decrease in the ability to empathize with anyone!


At 12/01/2006 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you google up the word thermasol you'll learn that it's an additive/preservative that contains mercury and they put that stuff into our kids' vaccinations. Not sure if they're still doing that or not, but it's the leading suspect of the origins of autism.

At 12/01/2006 8:04 PM, Anonymous Seth said...

AOW --

When I worked in the casino, we once arrested a former employee for 2 counts of battery: She had stabbed a woman deeply with a pencil and punched a sports writer in the face hard enough to break his glasses. She was cited and released the same evening on the grounds that she was a mental outpatient who was "not responsible for her actions".

My only question there was, "At what point do the people who let her loose then accept responsibility for her actions, when the next pencil goes into someone's eye or she murders someone?"

I liked your husband's driving, especially on country roads. Definitely not boring! :-)

At 12/01/2006 8:46 PM, Blogger nanc said...

seth - can you say "frontal lobotomy"?

At 12/01/2006 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son has Aspergers Syndrome, and there are times he really does some silly things. But one thing he does have is a sense of right and wrong!

At 12/01/2006 10:29 PM, Blogger Storm said...

I think the defense attorney has a mental disorder...not the son. He is just a crook.

Maybe we should all pitch in and get her some professional help and a better law degree. Last I checked finding pot on the suspect in court is remarkable.

Of course, I am left with just one question. Is TSA screening the people for this court room?

At 12/02/2006 1:24 AM, Blogger kuhnkat said...

The kids mother was an attorney but was just there advising her son. She wasn't actually performing as Defense Attorney. Doesn't really change the story much though.

Ya think this woman just might live a LEFTARD life style??


At 12/02/2006 4:33 AM, Anonymous Seth said...

Nanc --

I can say that since the folks who let her go earn their daily bread, so to speak, off the tax money of her potential victims, they ought to either confine her at a secure location or apply your well conceived suggestion, either one, but do it soon.

Kuhnkat --

Right as rain!

At 12/02/2006 6:12 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

My son has Aspergers Syndrome, and there are times he really does some silly things. But one thing he does have is a sense of right and wrong!

I'm so glad that you stopped by to leave that comment!

I know several people with Aspergers. But they do have better sense than to carry pot into court. Furthermore, as you mentioned, those with Aspergers often have quite a strong sense of right and wrong. That no-gray-area aspect of Aspergers is one reason that they don't fit in so well socially. At least, that's my experience.

I submit that toting pot into court goes beyond the silliness which accompanies Aspergers.

And I'm wondering if that little baggie was a ploy to get Hoerauf some sympathy in the eyes of the court--as a sort of confirmation of his diagnosis. I also wonder if Hoerauf has truly been diagnosed. And how did he get that baggie past security?

So many questions?

At 12/02/2006 6:13 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Like real ADD and ADHD, all it takes is time, patience, love and consistancy! Like any child, just more.

Hoerauf has had trouble with the law before. Unsupervised at home?

At 12/02/2006 6:16 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Years ago, I read results from a study which showed that watching TV results in a shorter attention-span. We don't hear much about that anymore.

Fact is, reading a book or listening to a teacher cannot compete with the slick presentations of Madison Avenue.

At 12/02/2006 6:31 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Actually, it's thimerisol.

From THIS SOURCE, with misspellings of the word:

Since an alarming FDA report was issued in 1999, a number of investigations have been launched to examine the possibility of "thimerosal autism". The FDA's findings were the result of an earlier demand that manufacturers of childhood vaccines disclose the amount of mercury the vaccinations contained. The links between thimerosal and autism were first suspected when the FDA received the shocking news that children routinely received pediatric vaccines whose mercury levels exceeded the amount considered safe for adults.

Many people believe that certain types of developmental problems, including thimerosal autism, attention deficit disorder, and hyperactivity, stem from overexposure to the mercury contained in thimerosal. Thimerosal was invented in the 1930s and serves as a preservative in vaccines, preventing bacterial growth. Although autism existed prior to the use of mercury in vaccinations, suspicions of a type of thimerosal autism arose as researchers examined the numbers of diagnoses relative to the prevalence of thimerosal-containing vaccinations.

"Autism once was really, really rare," according to plaintiff's attorney Michael Gallagher. "The incident rate was once one in 10,000 births. Now it's 40 per 10,000." The rate reaches as high as one in 150 births in some areas of the country, including California and New Jersey. The use of thimerosal increased in the 1990's with the addition of new vaccines and changes to the vaccination schedule. The amount of mercury-containing vaccines increased, and the number of what plaintiffs suspect to be thimerosal autism cases increased as well.

I believe that thimerisol has been let off the hook as a cause of autism, but there is a great deal of controversy about that ruling/finding.


Early-1930s- first added to vaccines as a bactericide.

Mid-1980s- used as a preservative in virtually all whole-cell DPT vaccines, which were routinely administered four times each to children before eighteen months of age, starting at two months.

Late 1980s- Hib vaccines are recommended for administration to children at eighteen months. They contain thiomersal.

Early 1990s- In the USA three doses of Hepatititis B vaccine (at that time containing Thiomersal) are recommended for infants under six months of age, beginning on the day of birth; four doses of Hib are recommended within an eighteen month period, beginning at age two.

Late 1990s- three of the vaccines included in Vaccination schedules for children between six and eighteen months of age contain thiomersal.

1999- The American Academy of Pediatrics requests removal of thiomersal from all pediatric vaccines.

2002- The USA Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) state that: although thiomersal was to be discontinued in some paediatric vaccines, they would not be recalling any unused stocks, as there is no proof that low doses of thiomersal is dangerous, and that the change was purely cautionary.

2006- Some vaccines provided by the World Health Organization for children in developing countries contain the same amounts of thiomersal as vaccines used previously for American children. Current vaccination schedules give these in a shorter time period.

2006- In the latest review by the WHO committee (at its meeting of 6-7 June 2006) the conclusion previously reached was reaffirmed that there is no evidence of toxicity in infants, children or adults exposed to thiomersal in vaccines.

At 12/02/2006 6:56 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

"At what point do the people who let her loose then accept responsibility for her actions, when the next pencil goes into someone's eye or she murders someone?"

The concept of someone's being held accountable has become passe, I guess. "No-fault" is all the rage. But what about the victims?

I liked your husband's driving, especially on country roads. Definitely not boring! :-)

The Mustang is a ticket-magnet, especially with my husband at the wheel.

Ya think this woman just might live a LEFTARD life style??

I think you're spot-on!

The WaPo may have gotten some details wrong, but I find it hard to believe that the story is way off--especially with regard to the matter of conviction of certain charges.

At 12/02/2006 6:57 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

LOL. Dumb and dumber fits!

At 12/02/2006 6:58 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Can you find out the title of that Asimov tale?

At 12/02/2006 1:39 PM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

It may have been another writter, but it was part of a trilogy about androids and human interaction. The heros in all 3 books were an Earth human detective and an android from an Earth colony. After the 1st book, they were friends and assisted each other in solving some stubborn cases. It's been decades...I guess I'll go check
You have noticed too, that since all the state homes were closed by "civil rights" activists, that the numbers of homeless with mental disorders and diseases have increased. As well as crimes committed by less than fully competent people! Diminished responsibility meant that someone else was responsible for their actions, thus they were not allowed to run around in their less aware state wthout accountability. Now they are, and the results are less than happy for them or those they might harm.


At 12/02/2006 3:09 PM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

Aha! "The Naked Sun" by Isaac Asimov.
Also the "Caves of Steel" and I forgot the last one, or the first as it may be.


At 12/02/2006 5:58 PM, Blogger kuhnkat said...

Actually TMW, those two were by themselves. The Robots of Dawn and Robots and Empire were part of the Foundation series. I, Robot and The Rest Of The Robots were general stories based on his 3 laws of Robotics and didn't include Elijah Baley, the Earth Detective, either.!!

At 12/02/2006 8:12 PM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

KuhnKat-I thought there were 3? Oh well, it's been more years than I want to try to figure out! I was lucky to remember as much as I did! thanks for the rest!
I never really got into the Foundation series, I also was a Heinlein fan, Arthur C. Clark... Samuel Delaney was another favorite! I need to get a replacement of his "Fall of the Towers" trilogy, mine is in pieces!


At 12/03/2006 11:32 AM, Blogger City Troll said...

the foundation series was one of the better ones that I've read< I've read everything Asimov has written... A series I liked growing up was The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephan R Donaldson

here is a good synopsis of the series

oh and the autistic criminals mother is a large part of the kids problem


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