Count us among those who are tired of the Sara Jane Olson saga.
We're tired of the accused Symbionese Liberation Army member's overly dramatic sighs during court proceedings. Tired of her smug facial gestures and histrionics. Tired of her failure to take responsibility for her actions. Tired of writing about her courtroom antics.
That's why Judge Larry Paul Fidler's decision this week to accept her latest guilty plea was a cause for rejoicing. Good riddance! Let's be done with this sorry tale of a 1970s radical who's reluctant to face up to the consequences of her actions.
Let's recap a bit of the story for the uninitiated: After years of living under an assumed name the former Kathleen Soliah was arrested in June of 1999 near her Highland Park home in St. Paul. After a series of defense-requested delays Olson surprised everyone by pleading guilty Oct. 31. She then walked out of the courtroom and told reporters she wasn't really guilty. Whoa, the judge said, calling her back into his courtroom on Nov. 6 for clarification. At that court date she pleaded guilty a second time. A week later Olson proclaimed her innocence and said she had only pleaded guilty because she thought she couldn't get a fair trial after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Olson presents the classic case of the defendant who wants to have it both ways. She wants the security of a negotiated plea without actually having people think a high-minded person such as herself is guilty of anything as unseemly as plotting to attach bombs to police cars.
Judge Fidler rightly told Olson she couldn't have it both ways and she couldn't continue to play the court system like a yo-yo with alternating professions of guilt and innocence. Olson, by all accounts, is an intelligent and talented woman. She had many months to contemplate her plea and the judge had every right to take her at her word when she pleaded guilty -- not just once, but twice.
The judge took the proper course and ended this courtroom circus. Let's hope the appeal judges who will likely have to rule on the case will come to the same conclusion.
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