Honorable Officials of Louisiana,
I have been watching the proceedings in the case of the death of Jim Pickholtz by negligent homicide, negligent injuring, and failure to yield from a private drive, in which Mayor Brenda Melancon was arrested and charged with a felony.
It is my understanding that Mayor Melancon has been allowed to continue her job as Mayor during these proceedings. I find that deplorable, while Amy Pickholtz is left without a husband and a family income, as well as permanently crippling injuries. Any other person would have lost their job or in the very least been suspended. One would think the Mayor is "special" and deserves better treatment than your average citizen.
Traffic rules are not guidelines. They are made into law to protect innocent citizens who abide by the law. Yielding the right-of-way requires a driver to stop and look for oncoming traffic before pulling out and making a left-hand turn. She stated that she looked both ways and then pulled out, but the crash was instantaneous; by her own words, she said she didn't even know what she hit. That's a good indication that Jim Pickholtz was much too close for her NOT to see him, IF she had looked. Everyone blames the small size of a motorcycle, but I always see them. Because I LOOK for them. And motorcycles have as much right to be on the road as any other legal vehicle. "I didn't see them", or "I looked" is an unsubstantiated excuse.
Failure to "see" another vehicle or motorcyclist, when a motorist does not look, makes it a willful act. Does her saying she looked before pulling out make it so? NO. Motorcyclists are always watching for those who would pull into their path, and would not willingly hit another vehicle if it can be helped. She was too close for him to do anything. She did NOT look.
The fact that Brenda Melancon is the Mayor should have no bearing on seeing justice done for Amy and her family. A public office does not exempt a person from paying the price of taking a life through negligence. A slap on the hand for Mayor Melancon only assures that others will also go unpunished for such negligence. And let us not forget that such negligence took a life and severely damaged the lives of an innocent family.
I sincerely hope that removing Attorney Paul Knight from the case was done to strengthen the proceedings with a more knowledgeable Attorney, and not out of concern that Mr. Knight may prove the Mayor's guilt. As that would be criminal too.
As a motorcyclist, I am aware of the high number of deaths caused by a failure to yield, and/or negligence. In most cases the guilty party (proven so in court) is given a slap on the hand or a traffic fine for killing a motorcyclist/bicyclist/pedestrian. That "someone" could be me next time. And it is appalling that our court system cannot see fit to punish those who kill us needlessly. I am a motorcyclist, I am a law-abiding citizen. And never forget that I also vote.
Therefore, I am appealing to you, as a citizen of this country, who has a right to fair and thorough prosecution, regardless of the public office the alleged guilty party holds, to please see that justice is done for Amy Pickholtz. Her husband's death should not be passed off on the excuse of "I didn't see them". For had she truly LOOKED, Amy's husband might be alive today, and her injuries nonexistent.
I would also remind you that on your website, the following quotes are displayed for all to see:
"Deeply committed to preserving and protecting the health, safety, welfare, and legal interests of all of the citizens of Louisiana"
"The Criminal Division seeks justice on behalf of the citizens of the state of Louisiana by assisting federal, state and local agencies in the investigation and prosecution of a wide range of criminal matters."
"As your lawyer, I have a tremendous responsibility to protect the public as well as to uphold the laws and the Constitution of Louisiana"
I urge you to prosecute to the full extent of the law, and to seek the maximum penalty for this death. Five years is nothing compared with what Amy Pickholtz must face the rest of her life. The American public must see that killing needlessly in this manner is not tolerated. Louisiana has the penalties for this crime, please show that your sworn oath to uphold the law applies to ALL citizens.