Defendant’s Counsel objects to the inclusion of recordings which are not in evidence, taken out of context, and included only to embarrass the Defendant and prejudice the Court.
The inclusion of crass language serves no purpose but to embarrass the Defendant, a good person who has made some bad decisions. More troublesome is the selective arrangement of quotations, removed from a recording, to show Ms. Shoffner in an unfavorable light, in the objective presentence report.
Ms. Shoffner never intended, nor was there any financial damage to the Treasurer‟s office. There was no money lost, stolen, or pilfered. No money was lost from financial trades or transactions due to lost opportunities to make more money. No capital losses were taken, no unrealized losses were placed on the books. Arkansas is one of five states to maintain a surplus in its Treasury even after the recession of 2008-2012. The trades in question that bring Shoffner to punishment actually made the state profits, rather than any loss. The benefits derived by Steele Stephens may be grossly overvalued but, even if not, none of this alleged value to Steele Stephens was sought by Martha Shoffner nor was it was shared with Martha Shoffner. Ms. Shoffner asks that the Court keep these unique circumstances of the case and of the trial in mind when imposing her sentence.
She drives a 2003 Oldsmobile Alero and lives in a house which needs much repair. Her home is heavily mortgaged. As the Court will see in one of her letters of support, Ms. Shoffner has needed a new roof for some time, but has only been able to afford replacing one-half of her roof.10 She understands that she will lose her home, after a sentence is issued in this case, due to a loss of social security income and lack of ability to work and earn income as she has done steadily throughout her life.
Martha Shoffner is a religious person. As discussed earlier, she attends the Presbyterian Church in Newport. In addition to her faith, she received great joy and serenity in her love for her mother and father – especially her mother, Helen. She remembers with great pride the joy that her mother received on the day she was sworn in for her first term as Treasurer of Arkansas. The heartache and shame that she feels of having brought humiliation to her mother‟s and father‟s good names, at times, seems too much. She believes, regardless of the Court‟s judgment, that this remorse and embarrassment of her actions to the citizens of Arkansas will be with her the remainder of her life. She will say these things publicly at the time of her sentencing.
It is unprecedented that any public official receive the punishment proposed in the Presentence Investigation Report, not to mention such a harsh sentence that has already been enhanced by way of intense, crass, and relentless public attention and media coverage. Such is the situation where Martha Shoffner finds herself. Public vilification for her actions has already punished her in a manner that erodes her basic sense of decency. She is all but branded as evil.
She has been ostracized, shunned, and brought to feel humiliation that is callous and without charity, understanding, or mercy. Counsel‟s attempts to keep up with the newscasts, articles, and all other forms of electronic or print media were given up long ago. The punishment of Martha Shoffner began when she was arrested, and treated unlike any other individual who is not a safety threat and charged with a similar nonviolent crime. Ms. Shoffner was handcuffed and transported from Newport to the Pulaski County jail. She was put in general population under FBI hold, it must have been understood that she would not be released without FBI approval until Monday morning. She was stripped, sprayed for lice, booked, given prison garments, one blanket, a steel cot with a steel mattress, and a placed on suicide watch with a severely limited diet throughout Saturday, Saturday evening, all day Sunday, and Sunday evening. Except for the two female matrons and their kindnesses, the experience would have been a nightmare.