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Assault on a Safeway Manager
Copyrighted materials enclosed. May not be reproduced.
Assault on a Safeway Manager: A Restorative Justice Adult Felony Case Study
Tom Cavanagh, MS
Affiliate Professor School for Professional Studies
Regis University Denver, Colorado
Copyright © 1998. Tom Cavanagh-Restorative Justice, Inc. All rights reserved. This publication is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced in whole or in part by Photostat. Microfilm, retrieval system, or any other means, without prior written permission of the publisher.
Tom Cavanagh-Restorative Justice, Inc., Publisher PO Box 214 Fort Collins, CO 80522
About the Author
Tom Cavanagh is a scholar, writer, and facilitator of restorative justice. He
facilitated a private forum called, “A conversation about restorative justice in
Colorado,” as part of the Institute on the Common Good at Regis University in Denver.
He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Leadership at Colorado State
University. His studies are focused on education and research related to restorative
justice. He is an Affiliate Professor of Management for the School for Professional
Studies at Regis University and an Adjunct Professor of Management at Front Range
Community College in Fort Collins, Colorado. He worked as a court reporter for the
District Court in Fort Collins.
He is an honors graduate of Regis University in Denver, with a MS in
management. His undergraduate work was completed at Carroll College, Helena,
Montana, where he received a BA in English, and Lamar (Colorado) Community
College, graduating with an AA in Liberal Arts.
Abstract Restorative justice offers fresh ideas to our criminal justice system. This values-
based approach to justice is based on healing the harm of crime, with a balanced focus
on the offender, victim, and community. Because this philosophy is new, quantitative
data are hard to find. Therefore, the qualitative method of case studies is appropriate
for reporting and analyzing the outcomes of restorative justice.
This case study looks at the use of restorative justice conferencing in an adult
felony case. To date the primary focus of this process is on juvenile cases. This case
study involves an adult case, believed to be the first such case in Colorado and one of
the first in the United States. The highlight of this case study is a conference that took
place between the entry of the plea of guilty and sentencing by the Court.
5Assault on a Safeway Manager: A Restorative Justice Adult Felony Case Study
The principal people involved in this case study are Milton Brown, a young black
man from Cheyenne, Wyoming. While in jail for this case, Milton learned was awarded
a scholarship to play football at Missouri Valley University. Randy Davison was a clerk
at a Safeway store in Fort Collins, Colorado. His real passion in life was sound mixing.
Randy was married to Jeannine, and they had two young children, Danielle and
The incident that brought these people together occurred June 7, 1998, at the
Safeway store in Fort Collins where Randy worked. The allegations in the case indicate
Milton and an acquaintance were shoplifting at the Safeway store. At the time they
were drinking in celebration of their recent graduation from high school.
As the two young men were leaving the store with a basket full of groceries,
without paying for them, Randy followed the two young men and confronted them to
ask if they forgot to pay. Milton became outraged and attacked Randy, knocking him
down and stomping on his head. Randy was unconscious immediately after the
incident and suffered injury to his face and head, which resulted in hospitalization and
some loss of hearing. Randy didn't remember the incident. Milton's recollection of the
events is different than those mentioned above.
After Milton’s arrest the case proceeded through the criminal justice system in a
manner common to most adult criminal cases in Fort Collins. On September 30, 1998,
Milton entered a plea of guilty to the Court based upon a plea agreement reached
between the prosecutor and Milton's public defender. That agreement included a
stipulation that Milton would be sentenced to a cap of four years at the Colorado
Department of Corrections because of the viciousness of the attack, although he had no
prior record of violence. Milton's attorney at the time advised him to accept the plea
agreement, which represented a minimum prison sentence for the charge.
Later Milton asked the Court to withdraw his guilty plea. Special counsel was
appointed to look into the matter. After a hearing, the Court allowed Milton to
withdraw his guilty plea on January 14, 1999, and a trial was scheduled. If the matter
went to trial, and Milton was found guilty, a prison sentence was certain to result, with
no agreed-upon cap on the length of the sentence. Rather than going to trial, a
disposition was held April 1, 1999, and sentencing was scheduled for May 26, 1999.
The turning point in the case came when Randy met with Bill Jones, the
prosecutor for the case. At the request of the prosecutor, his named is changed for this
case study. The two people met to review Randy's testimony in the case in preparation
for the scheduled trial. During the meeting Randy expressed to Bill his desire to meet
face to face with Milton because he couldn't understand why this 19-year-old boy
would hurt him as he did. Bill explained to Randy the fundamentals of a restorative
justice conference and the wide range of possible outcomes from such a meeting.
Randy wanted to meet Milton in person because he had no memory of seeing
him at the time of the incident. Randy was motivated to meet with Milton because he
didn't believe prison was the best solution and his wife, Jeannine, believed prison takes
a person to the wrong place and makes the “hardness harder.” Randy felt
uncomfortable giving input about the sentencing without seeing and talking with
Milton. He wanted to take away the fear resulting from the incident by learning more
about Milton's character, what he was like, and whether the incident was a stupid
mistake or an act of meanness.
The week before trial Bill made a plea offer to Eric Vanatta, Milton’s attorney,
which included a restorative justice conference. The pivotal point in the plea was
Randy's willingness to forgo asking for a prison sentence in exchange for the
opportunity to meet and talk with Milton in a conference setting.
Bill had knowledge about and experience with restorative justice prior to his
meeting with Randy. Sensing Randy's desire to meet with Milton, the week before the
pre-trial meeting, Bill talked with local probation officer Bernadette Felix, who is a
trained conference facilitator. Bernadette was open to the idea of facilitating a
conference in the case.
At first Eric was reluctant to accept Bill's plea offer. He feared a meeting of an
offender and victim might be antagonistic because of the anger involved, particularly in
a case involving a severe assault such as this. In his experience Eric found victims and
offenders often don't empathize with each other. A victim and offender must be willing
to meet face to face for this process to be successful. Milton was also reluctant to meet
with Randy at first but later agreed to the conference.
Wednesday, March 31, 1999, the week before trial, Eric and Bill met with the
presiding judge for the case, Chief Judge John-David Sullivan. They explained the plea
agreement, and Judge Sullivan approved the
agreement.The restorative justice
conference was the cornerstone of the agreement, according to Bill.
The disposition was formally presented to the Court on Thursday, April 1, 1999.
The Court, counsel, and the defendant were present. Mr. Vanatta announced to Judge
Sullivan, "We've reached a disposition. He's going to be pleading guilty to a class four
felony dueling charge, also a class one misdemeanor third degree assault charge. The
agreement is a stipulation to probation on each count, with terms and conditions left
open to the Court.”
"We're anticipating the case will be continued for a sentencing hearing so that
Mr. Brown and Mr. Davison, who's the victim of the offense, would be in a mediated
meeting with the probation department." As a result of the plea, the Court vacated the
trial date of April 5, 1999.
The family group conference was held May 4, 1999, at the Fort Collins City Hall
conference room. Prior to the conference, Bernadette met with Milton and his mother,
Teresa Carter, on April 27, 1999, for a pre-conference. She explained the goal of the
conference was to repair the harm resulting from the offense. Concerns and desired
outcomes for the conference were discussed. The conference process was explained.
A similar pre-conference was held with Randy in person on April 28, 1999. His
primary concern surrounded safety of himself and his family. Bernadette talked with
Jeannine on the telephone. Bernadette followed up the pre-conferences with a letter to
the participants and a map with directions to the location of the conference.
Present at the May 4th conference were the offender, Milton, and his great-aunt
Bessie Westword. The victim, Randy, and his wife, Jeannine, were also present.
Bernadette was the facilitator for the conference, and she was assisted by Laurie Klith,
Community Liaison Officer for the Larimer County Probation Department. The
conference lasted approximately one and one-half hours.
Bernadette talked with the Davisons and Milton and Bessie separately before the
conference to answer any last minute questions and address any concerns. The
conference participants sat in a circle with Bernadette on one side of the circle, the
Davisons next to her, then Laurie, and Milton and Bessie next to Laurie.
At the beginning of the conference the participants appeared tense and fearful.
Bessie was teary-eyed, and Jeannine's hands trembled for the first 15 minutes. There
was a common sense of caring. The Davisons wanted Milton to learn from the
conference and make positive changes in his life. Bessie expressed to the Davisons her
family wanted them to be okay and to forgive her
The participants were able to talk about how the incident affected them, what
happened to them since the incident, and how they would like to see the harm resulting
from the offense repaired. Milton began by talking about his version of what happened
on June 7th. He said he thought about the incident since that night. He knew he was
intoxicated and that he hit and kicked Randy. However, he thought he assaulted him in
the chest area and not the head. Despite what witness statements revealed in the police
report, Milton explained what he remembered.
Milton took responsibility for his behavior on June 7th, sincerely apologized right
away to Randy and Jeannine, and asked for their forgiveness. He also expressed
concern for Randy's hearing loss and the effects on the Davison family.
Milton said while he was in jail he drew upon his faith in God because he was
informed 1) a friend died, 2) his mother was hospitalized, 3) he was offered a football
scholarship but was not able to accept because he was incarcerated, and 4) he lost his
Bessie, Milton's great aunt attended and informed the victims of his past because
she raised him and his siblings. She said, “To strike anyone is wrong. I teach him
better. Nobody has the right to hit anyone."
Milton's mother, Teresa, was unable to attend the conference because she was in
California attending to her health needs. She wrote a letter, which moved Milton when
it was read aloud, and explained she was sorry she couldn't attend and meet the victim.
She said, "To the victim, I am very, very sorry that my son, Milton, hurt you. I hope that
one day you could find it in your heart to forgive him. I also know that deep down
inside me, my son didn't mean to hurt you at all. Milton also feels very sorry for
hurting you. If he could change that day, he would."
Teresa's letter went on to explain how her current medical problems were the
result of being injured by a drunk driver. Interestingly, Milton was intoxicated at the
time of the June 7th incident. Teresa ended her letter, "I hope the meeting between you
and my son gives you both a chance to talk about what happened, so you both have an
understanding of what happened."
The key to Randy's willingness to participate in the conference was being able to
see Milton face to face. Due principally to Randy's introverted nature, he was pleased
he could bring someone with him to the conference, namely, his wife, Jeannine, and that
Bernadette used an outline which included questions asked of Randy. Randy felt the
questions kept the dialogue on track, and Milton could hear the answers.
Randy accepted Milton's apology and forgave him. Randy explained how the
incident affected him, particularly the hearing loss and his recently developed fear of
people and reluctance to trust them. He said this change in attitude toward people
bothered him. Recently Randy turned down an opportunity for a promotion in
management because of his fears of being in charge when a similar incident happened
again, and this decision affected his family. Milton encouraged Randy to take
advantage of these opportunities. Randy said most of his hearing returned. He still
gets headaches, especially when he first awakes.
Until she attended the conference, Jeannine had not cried and did not grieve. She
was busy from the time of the incident taking over all the duties of caring for her
family, putting aside her own emotions. Jeannine was called early in the morning
following the incident and was informed her husband was being taken to the hospital.
She was unable to go immediately to be with her husband because she needed to take
care of her two young sleeping children.
At the conference Jeannine cried profusely, and her feelings were flooding, she
explained. She appreciated the opportunity for resolution and closure. Jeannine
accepted Milton's apology, and regardless of what he said, Jeannine decided to forgive
Milton, as a gift she could give.
The harm to Jeannine resulted from Milton's "choice" to hurt Randy, which
resulted in Milton "almost killing my husband." For a while Jeannine experienced fear,
and Milton took something away from her. Yet Jeannine persisted in her desire to
forgive Milton, based largely on her faith in God, saying, "I forgive you; God forgives
you." She saw forgiveness as a choice, and the details of the actual act of forgiveness
would be worked out after the choice was made to forgive. Before the conference,
Jeannine said she prayed and will continue to keep Milton in her prayers.
Jeannine wanted to know more about Milton's history, and she didn't want to
help release someone who would cause more harm in the community. On the other
hand, she did not want Milton to be sent to prison if he had no prior record. Her
emphasis was on restoring Milton rather then putting him in a cycle of involvement
with the criminal justice system. Yet Jeannine emphasized conferencing does not
provide complete resolution in itself. Consequences are needed to demonstrate to the
offender the cause and effect process.
Jeannine explained she grew up in Detroit and developed a hypersensitivity
towards people. This hypersensitivity diminished when she moved to Fort Collins and
returned when her husband was assaulted, particularly in terms of feeling safe.
Randy and Jeannine met in a sound engineering class, and technical sound and
lighting work was Randy's dream. Jeannine explained if Randy lost his hearing, he
wouldn't be able to realize his dream. She and Randy thought the hearing loss
jeopardized Randy's dream.
Jeannine noticed that since the assault Randy was more leery of people,
particularly customers who were intoxicated. She thought Randy's perception of
people changed, and he was not more apprehensive and expectant that intoxicated
people were going to do something harmful. Jeannine knew she didn't want to hate
Milton. Instead she chose to offer forgiveness to Milton and thereby let go of hate and
fear. She felt to not forgive is to somehow let Milton continue to own her and herfamily.
Jeannine talked about the effects of alcohol on a person's life and quoted the bible
as saying, "Everything in moderation." She told Milton, "God doesn't want you to be
The highlight of the conference, mentioned by most participants, was when
Jeannine showed Milton a picture of Randy, herself, and her two children, Danielle and
Michael. Jeannine described herself as a survivor, and she wanted Milton to look at the
picture and understand the gravity of what he did. She wanted to get to Milton's heart,
to get through his pain, the barriers, and help him see the devastation he caused to the
Davison family. The desired result would be repentance, not merely Milton saying he
Jeannine said her heart's desire was to reach Milton so he could realize the effects
of his actions and decide to change his behavior. Both she and Randy expressed their
concern that Milton not "throw his life away." and they wanted him to succeed in life.
Jeannine hoped 20 years from then Milton would have a family, a college degree, be
working and doing his best, and realizing a life that blossomed.
The results most important to Jeannine were: 1) She was happy to look into the
eyes of Milton and speak about forgiveness, regardless of what he said, and 2) Milton
realized that the Davison children were almost left fatherless by a young man who grew
up without a father.
The participants made a conference agreement, which was signed by Randy,
Milton, and Bernadette, in an effort to "repair the harm that has taken place." The
agreement went on, "It is understood that these agreements may be used by the Court,
but are designed for reparation, not retribution."
Milton and the Davisons made the following agreements:
1. Milton Brown apologized to Randy and
2. Randy and Jeannine forgave Milton.
3. Milton promised Randy and Jeannine that he not do anything like that again,
and that he will better his life.
4. Milton agreed to look for a Christian fellowship.
5. Milton agreed to do community service or volunteer work with
The participants were embracing at the end of the conference and promising to
pray for one another. The Davisons offered to write a letter on behalf of Milton in
support of his re-application for the football scholarship.
After the conference, Bernadette met with the participants separately to
determine how they felt after the meeting was over. Milton said coming to the
conference was hard for him but he felt good that he did it. Bernadette then prepared a
report to Judge Sullivan outlining the pre-conference, conference, and writtenagreement.
Milton's sentencing took place Wednesday morning, May 26, 1999. Milton's
attorney, Eric, presented Judge Sullivan with letters of support and a document from
Missouri Valley College confirming his football scholarship. The Court recognized the
report from Bernadette and made it part of the probation file.
The prosecutor, Bill, called Randy to come before Judge Sullivan. Randy said, "I
just wanted to come here and kind of express that I have had a meeting with Milton and
his great aunt, and my wife and I had a meeting with him, and I just want you to know
that, you know, everybody -- first of all, that we forgive him, and we let him know this.
We let him know what he did was wrong and how it affected us and what could have
happened also, and -- but at the same time, he needs to pay restitution for what he did,
but I guess mainly what I want you to know is I have no, I guess, desire for him to go to
jail or prison or anything like that. I just don't see that as any kind of -- I just don't see it
as any help.
"I've looked at his record; that he didn't have anything else happen before this.
Then he also, you know, has a football scholarship, and my wish is that he would
succeed in his life, and this would help him to get along and to maybe better himself
and to achieve some things for his life, and that it would be a point where he can look
back, and he could always remember it, and it would make him a better person, and I
guess that's all I wanted to say."
The Court pointed out Milton did have some other criminal offenses as a juvenile
before he was 18, shoplifting and theft and asked if that made a difference. Randy said
In his argument, Eric said, "Your Honor, this case, I think, is unique one for
several reasons. One, because Mr. Brown assaulted Mr. Davison. He's never assaulted
anybody before. Another is because Mr. Brown was, in essence, one of the only
witnesses who actually cooperated and told the truth or his version of the truth when
the police contacted him. I think third, and probably most importantly, was because
Mr. Brown and Mr. Davison met in kind of a restorative justice type meeting with a
"The Court may recall the facts in this case. There was a group Mr. Brown was
with and some of his friends, and they had been drinking. They were over at Suite 152.
They decided to go to Safeway to kind of meet to see if there was going to be any other
parties that night or anything going on, and Mr. Brown was walking out of Safeway
with Mr. Wright; kind of a questionable situation as to whether Mr. Brown was
involved in the theft part -- that is the allegation -- or whether he was basically walking
with Mr. Wright, and Mr. Brown indicated that he was grabbed by Mr. Davison. He
didn't know who it was. He turned around and punched him, and the question, I think,
at the trial would have been whether he punched him, and he fell to the ground and hit
his head on the ground and, therefore, caused the fractures or whether Mr. Brown
actually had stomped on his head, as indicated by one of the witnesses.
"I think the question of whether Mr. Brown hit his chest or kicked him in the
chest, as Mr. Brown told the police, or whether he was hit in the head, I think it's an
irrelevant matter because the point here is that Mr. Davison was injured pretty severely,
and obviously, Mr. Brown was then arrested and interviewed by the police, where he
told his version of the events and eventually was charged and brought down to Larimer
County, where he spent 199 days in jail before he was able to bond out.
"And I think this meeting that he had with Mr. Davison, I was a little nervous
about it, to be honest with the Court, before it happened, because Mr. Brown really isn't
a very forthcoming individual. He's kind of quiet. He doesn't volunteer a lot of
information. I was worried that might be taken as some kind of lack of remorse or
something like that.
"Well, we want the Court to know that -- or I want the Court to know that
throughout my representation of Mr. Brown, when we'd meet and talk about this case
and discuss the trial and talk about defenses and whatnot, he was always -- he always
asked how's Mr. Davison, is his hearing coming back, and he was concerned about Mr.
Davison's situation, always been very sad and, I think, disappointed in himself, of this
entire situation happened, and I think that comes through in the report submitted by
probation. That he's had a lot of time to think about this. That he takes responsibility
for it. He apologizes. That he wants the Court and Mr. Davison to know that he's very,
very sorry about this whole situation. He wishes it never would have happened. He's
not sure exactly what why it happened, but he wants to take this negative situation and
try to turn it into a positive in his life, and when he was originally placed into custody
on this, I was in contact with Missouri Valley University. He had a football scholarship
and ended up -- and obviously, not going through. He was in jail.
"Since being on bond in this case he's been able to re-contact them and has this
scholarship where he can take that positive step in his life and go to college. He's got a
scholarship for about $20,000, and he's a tailback in high school, but he thinks he's going
to be playing defensive back for the university. He hopes very, very strongly that he
can convince the Court today that a further time in jail on this case would not be
necessary considering the entire situation. He fears that if he is placed in custody for
any amount of time that he's going to lose that scholarship again, and now that he's got
it for a second time, he doesn't think his chances of getting it for a third time are very
"He is a man that did have a shoplifting charge as a juvenile or I think a joyriding
charge as a juvenile and shoplifting, petty offense, a long way back in 1996. That he was
16, while living in California. No assaultive behavior, no serious crimes in his past and
"I think the letters of support from his high school coaches are significant. They
tend to suggest Mr. Brown is a good person. That he's respected by his peers. That he's
a kind a man that's got something going for him in life and has always shown the
proper respect to the proper people. Is not a punk. He's not out there causing problems
"I know he's got a very strong and good family. A lot of them are here to support
him today, and they dealt with myself and Miss Zollars through our representation of
Mr. Brown and were always very supportive of him. He lives with his mother. Well,
he lives with -- up in Cheyenne. His mother, right now, is in California. She was the
victim of a drunk driving accident, and she's got some health problems because of that,
but I think, most of all, what this restorative justice meeting Mr. Brown and Mr.
Davison had was not only to give them a chance to express their feelings about what
happened, but I think it's got to be extremely difficult for both parties involved to meet
the other person face to face. I think if it works, it really helps both parties and
especially the defendant, because Mr. Brown gets the chance to internalize that and see
the person and place a face to the name and see the damage that these kind of things
can cause, and so that in the future he'll -- if any kind of situation like this ever arises,
he'll know to let cooler heads prevail, and to sit in the same room and see the victim of
the offense and to look at them in the eyes and apologize I think really means
something if it's -- I think it hits you in a more -- Well, I think the best way to say, it
internalizes the situation.
"We don't have any problem with those medical expenses, and we would ask the
Court to sentence Mr. Brown to a probation term for the period of four years. He is
working at Pizza Hut, and he's had that job for a couple months now. He's a cook up
there in Wyoming. He does have this scholarship that is extremely valuable, and I think
it's an extremely important tool for Mr. Brown to make that next step into college, and
he's very, very much looking forward to that. He, however, knows that this case is
more important than that scholarship, and I thought that was an impressive statement.
We were just taking outside in the hallway. That he's got those things on his plate, but
he knows he's got to take care of his responsibilities first.
"So again, pointing out that he was in jail for almost six months on this -- almost
200 days, we would urge the Court not to impose any further jail time. He is supposed
to report to the college, he believes, June 10th for some summer training and whatnot
that goes along with the football. He's still kind of in the process of trying to get student
loans. There's a lot of paperwork he needs to do. He fears if he ends up in jail he'll not
be able to get the loan to make up for the rest of the money to go to college, and so those
are our recommendations, and we hope the Court considers them.”
Bill made the following comments to the Court, "Your Honor, obviously the
defendant was originally charged with first degree assault, a class three felony. The
potential penalty for that case could involve up to 24 years in prison if the jury had
found the defendant guilty and the Court saw fit to finding aggravating factors.
"The defendant ended up pleading guilty to a class four felony. Still has a
substantial jail sentence associated with it. The plea agreement contemplates only a
sentence to probation.
"Your Honor, the facts of this case are much like Mr. Vanatta had indicated.
There was at least one witness that -- the eyewitness that directly saw the defendant
stomping on Mr. Davison's head two to three times. There were statements the People
proposed or were going to propose to the jury by the defendant's own friends and
family indicating things like why are you doing such a stupid thing and stop, and what
are you doing and that sort of thing, as well as a conversations on the way back home to
Wyoming asking Mr. Brown why he did such a terrible act.
"Mr. Davison had to go to the hospital. He lost consciousness. His memory --
Mr. Davison's memory is these people had taken a shopping cart out without paying for
it. He went out in the parking lot to find out what was going on, saw two people. The
person closest to him was Mr. Brown. Went up towards Mr. Brown. Spoke to Mr.
Brown. Did not touch Mr. Brown. Did not grab him by the elbow or anything else, and
then had Mr. Brown turn around and look at his feet. He was not looking him in the
eyes. Mr. Davison asked a series of questions: Can I help you? What's going on, and
the defendant suddenly, without any warning or any statement, hit him, and then he
has no memory of what happened after that.
"The defendant, when he was interviewed with the police, was relatively
forthcoming. Did indicate that he kicked him in his chest area, not the head, but we
have a witness that indicated that he did, in fact, stomp him in the head.
"Your Honor, we had Mr. Davison -- had him in my office. We must have talked
for over an hour about what to do with this case, if there were going to be some
concerns if we went to trial, the things that we could have if we chose not to go to trial,
including the idea of doing this restorative justice idea, and Mr. Davison was extremely
excited with the opportunity to do that, and to be honest with the Court, he, being Mr.
Davison, wanted to do this meeting because he could see it going one of two ways:
either he could see Mr. Brown as an individual that made a one time mistake and
deserved to have an opportunity to rectify that mistake and make his life better as a
result of it, or he could be the kind of individual that he wanted to see go to prison for
24 years, and that was the reason that he wanted so badly to have this kind of a meeting
with the defendant, and we were able to accomplish that.
"I should note that we did indicate to Mr. Davison -- but we talked about a lot of
things that day -- and told him that there were these minor offenses in his history, but
that obviously, the focus of our conversation was on what had happened on this
particular night or early morning, and so the People are looking forward to seeing what
the results of this restorative justice meeting would be, because I could have gone either
way, and the plea agreement that we have approved with the Court contemplates that
there is an additional five month jail sentence the Court could order as a result of a
sentence to probation, because the misdemeanor, class one third degree assault, carries
with it a potential 60 day sentence, and the felony carries with it a potential 90 day
sentence as a term and condition of probation. Those were going to be the -- in the
Court's discretion, could be stacked or consecutive with each other, making the five
"Your Honor, I know that Mr. Davison believes that Mr. Brown made a one time
mistake and is willing and has, in fact, forgiven him for what Mr. Brown did to him.
Mr. Davison did, in fact, lose his hearing for awhile and, as far as I know, still has
headaches, and that -- that he never had before, probably, as a result of this assault.
"As was indicated, now repeating it, but Mr. Davison's wife obviously was
greatly concerned about this assault as well, and I know that the restorative justice
phase of this sentence places Mr. Brown in a positive light and congratulate him for
that, but the People can't get over the hurdle that the defendant did still do a horrible
crime, and his efforts since definitely make the People come forward with the kind of
disposition we have reached; in other words, that he is going to be on probation and is
going to have an opportunity to get his education and those sorts of things, but I do also
believe he needs to serve an additional jail sentence. I understand he served nearly six
and a half months, but the potential penalty that he could have faced is far more than
that in prison, and so the People will be asking the Court to impose at least a 30 day
sentence to jail in Larimer County, straight time, as an additional penalty for his
involvement in this crime, and Your Honor, I should also note -- I neglected to mention
it in my recitation of facts -- the defendant had been drinking on that night, which is just
stunning to the People, particularly after reading the report about his mother and the
injuries that she received as a result of the drunk driver. How Mr. Milton Brown could
possibly have thought that it would be okay to drink knowing that these injuries had
happened to his mother as a result of somebody else and he does almost the exact same
thing, if not even worse, to somebody else is just amazing to the People, Your Honor,
and that's part of the reason we're asking for a jail sentence at this point in time.
"Your Honor, I think four months -- I'm sorry -- four years of probation is not
doing justice to this crime. We would ask the Court to place him on at least eight years
of probation. Again, refer the Court to the length of sentence he could have received if
proven guilty of that first-degree assault. I think eight years gives us the full amount of
time that he's going to be in college, and as the Court knows, college is a -- definitely a
time when temptations exist, including alcohol, and we're going to ask that one of his
terms and conditions be he abstain from any alcohol or the involvement in any social
activities or where he might be tempted to consume alcohol.
"Eight years, Your Honor, I think is an appropriate sentence. If he gets
completed through college and has no problems and is well into a career, a couple years
after college he could petition for early termination. At this point in time the People
may not be objecting to it, but I think he needs to have that long-term time frame of a
third person keeping an eye over his shoulder, making sure he is doing things he needs
to be doing in order to be comfortable this really was a one time mistake as opposed to
got off scott free from having to go to prison a result of what I did. There's only one
person in the courtroom that knows whether or not Mr. Brown stomped on his head,
and that's Mr. Brown.
"So Your Honor, those would be the recommendations of the People. I think that
the defendant can do community service. We'd be asking for at least 60 hours per year
of probation. We would ask for at least that 30-day jail sentence. The People are not
interested in seeing him lose this opportunity to improve his life by going to college, but
at the same time it was his past conduct that got him in this situation. Now, certainly,
he can and the Court can, right now, sentence him to five months, and that would also
have an impact on his ability to be going to college on this scholarship, but I think he
needs to pay the price for what he did on that night, early morning hours, and I think
the -- with -- the People are requesting a reasonable sentence. Even in light of the fact
that he has convinced the victim that he deserves even more leniency, that doesn't
change the fact that what he did constituted a class three felony assault.”
Judge John-David Sullivan.
Finally, in sentencing Milton, the Court said, "The injuries suffered by Mr.
Davison -- he clearly indicated that someone hit him in the head, and the evidence
would probably show at trial that it was the defendant that stomped on his head to
cause the injuries. The defendant committed an offense, first degree assault, class three
felony, and the penalties would be severe. The parties had initially agreed upon a
sentence to the department of corrections -- or at least was open -- of up to four years in
prison. The defendant was certainly deserving of a prison sentence, and the Court had
made notations on the fact that a sentence to prison was an appropriate sentence.
"In view of the meeting, conference between Mr. Davison and Mr. Brown and the
families and the recommendation of Mr. Davison in this particular instance, at this time
the Court is inclined to place the defendant on probation on count one for a period of
five years on certain terms and conditions. One, that he perform 300 hours of useful
public service. That he remain law-abiding. That he not consume any alcoholic
beverages during that five-year period. That he remain law-abiding. That means not
violating any criminal ordinance, statute, rule, or regulation of any governmental
agency, and even traffic offenses could be considered a violation. That he not take or
consume any illegal drugs or consume any drugs beyond the prescription that is
prescribed specifically for him; in other words, that he not abuse the taking of those
drugs. That he undertake whatever programs the probation department deems to be
appropriate for his rehabilitation and fully complete those. That he also pay the $125 to
the victims comp fund, $125 to the VALE fund, $30 in court costs, restitution in the
amount of $3,182.25 to Safeway, $75 drug assessment fee, $47.98 in the extradition fee,
and that -- any supervisory fees that may be charged by the probation department. The
Court will authorize probation to be transferred to any other jurisdiction if the
probation department deems it to be appropriate.
"The Court is not ordering any additional jail time. The defendant has served 199
days in jail, and if it hasn't taught him a lesson with respect to this criminal episode,
then he will be back, and we can address the appropriate length of prison at that time.
"Mr. Brown, you had a close brush with a very serious consequence. I hope you
have learned. To your benefit, you've certainly had someone come to your aid that you
hurt, as well as your family, and I hope that you follow their advice." Mr. Brown
responded, "I will."
Following the sentencing Milton returned to Cheyenne and immediately began
assisting his high school football coach at a football camp, in addition to continuing to
work at the pizza restaurant. In the fall he traveled to Missouri to begin attending
college and playing football at Missouri Valley University.
While interviewing the participants in this restorative justice process, the
following comments were made. These comments can help us to improve the
restorative justice conference process in the future.Bill Jones.
The restorative justice conference is the preferred and accepted alternative. Such
a conference calls for authenticity on the part of the victim and offender and puts the
blame where it belongs. Milton would not have understood the impact, particularly the
emotional impact to the Davison family in any other way, including incarceration and a
fine. This process better serves victims.
The weakness is prosecutors potentially lose their ability to monitor the progress
of the case. This process relies on the integrity of the conference facilitators. In the
future, Bill needs a more comprehensive report from the conference facilitator. He
would like more analysis and feedback in the report, rather than merely a summary.Jeannine Davison.
People who are perpetuated against need support from the judicial system, as
well as from their family. Jeannine was disappointed with the Victims Assistance
Program because the people there did not reach out to her as a victim, and instead
relied on her to initiate contact. In the future, Jeannine would like for the victim
advocates to keep her apprised of how Milton is doing.
Jeannine suggested a hotline for victims be made available. She suggested this
would be a good project for church volunteers.
A less formal setting for the conference was another suggestion Jeannine made.
She thought such an environment would help people with expressing emotions.
Jeannine said Randy's fear of people lasted four months, and the conference
helped that reduce that fear because Randy was able to meet and get to know his
assailant as a human being with a past. She emphasized the conference process needs
to focused on the benefit to the victim.
This case was the first time Eric used a restorative justice conference. He felt it
worked out great. The turning point in the case was when the victim, Randy, came
forward and asked Bill if he could meet with the offender, Milton, face to face. Eric said
this was the first time he experienced a victim sticking up for the defendant.
Judge John-David Sullivan.
This case, being viewed in light of restorative justice, hinged on the victim’s
desire to give the defendant an opportunity to redeem himself and be reinstated into
college on the football scholarship he was previously offered. The victim wanted the
offender to be a productive citizen rather than have a felony record with no future.
Judge Sullivan felt at the moment the case was a success story, and follow up will
show whether the case remains a success. He believed restorative justice conferencing
was particularly appropriate for defendants under the age of 19 and first time offenders.
Hopefully, from this case we can learn options exist to prison sentences. Victims
can have the opportunity to grieve, to heal, to accept an apology, and to forgive. The
philosophy underlying this case study is restorative justice.
1. What are the spiritual dimensions of this case
2. What actions exemplify the respect for the dignity of each participant in this casestudy?
3. How does this process demonstrate empowerment of the offender, victims, and the
4. In what way did this process contribute to the common good of the community?
5. Based on this case study, how might we create processes for healing wrongdoing
which are sensitive to the needs of the dark-skinned, poor, mentally ill, and
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