Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ou Est Rue LaSalle

S'il vous plais, Monsieur Gendarme, ou est le salon de justice?

The French court has come to Chicago to conduct a trial. A French judge, representatives of the French Embassy, and French police officials are in town and they've set up shop at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building.

There's a Notre Dame in Chicago, if they have a hankering to attend Mass. It was built by French settlers on Chicago's west side, back when that part of town was prairie and farm. Should the visitors need more, they can lay a wreath at Wolf Point on the Chicago River, to honor Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, Chicago's first non-native settler. Granted, he was Haitian, but Haiti was once a French colony.

Father Jacques Marquette and the explorer Louis Jolliet once trod on Chicago's turf. The French court officials could swing by the Marquette Building, which is located near LaSalle Street. The landmark structure's lobby is decorated with mosaic panels, designed by Louis Tiffany, that depict scenes of the Jesuit himself as the first French tourist to visit Illinois.

Having been made comfortably at home, reminded of Chicago's French past, the judge can get down to the business of deciding if Hans Peterson can be tried for murder.

Hans Peterson was living in Chicago when he brutally murdered dermatologist David Cornbleet. Since he had dual citizenship thanks to his mother, Mr. Peterson quickly high-tailed it to Guadaloupe where the long arm of the law couldn't touch him. Can't extradite a French citizen back to America, you see, because the wicked Yanks have a death penalty for capital murder and that's not allowed.

On the other hand, the French can't very well let a confessed killer go free. What to do?

Yesterday, a French judge interviewed witnesses and reviewed evidence, to determine if Mr. Peterson can be tried in a French court for the murder he committed in Chicago. Dr. Cornbleet's family was told that, under French law, Mr. Peterson would serve 22 years and then be eligible for parole. In the U.S., the same crime would have resulted in life. Any wonder, then, that Mr. Peterson told his French handlers that he doesn't want to be tried in America?

Bienvenu au Chicago, Your Honor. How about a little justice? It's better than nothing, which is what the Cornbleet family has now.

No comments: