Associate Dean Daniel Filler was a guest this morning on WHYY's RadioTimes with Marty Moss-Coane to discuss the murder prosecution of 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller for his alleged hate crime shooting and killing of three people outside a Jewish community center near Kansas City, Missouri.
Hate crimes like this one, Filler said, are crimes by highly motivated offenders that should be treated with the same degree of scrutiny as other serious criminal offenders. Like every offense prosecutors look at motivation to prove intent and, in the case of hate crimes, one's racial bias plays a significant role in proving intent, Filler told Moss-Coane.
Filler also addressed whether serious hate crime offenders like Miller, should be prosecuted in the same manner as terrorists. Filler commented that, like terrorist acts, hate crimes tend to create "ripple effects" that influence the behavior of ethnic groups in fear of future attacks like Miller's. Thus, it would not be unreasonable to group such acts in the same category as some types of terrorist acts. However, distinguishing between simple violent individuals and individuals who, like terrorists, plot a racially fueled attack over time is also a challenge and raises all kinds of issues with respect to government monitoring, Filler said.
One problem with hate crime laws is that serve more as an articulation of public's view that these kinds of crimes are abhorrent rather than an active deterrent, Filler said. Yet, since many of them grant federal jurisdiction, they open up a whole host of federal investigative support and resources, such as those the FBI can offer, Filler argued.
Regardless, Filler made clear that hate crime laws and prosecution are important and effective, if for nothing more than to represent that public view that such crimes should not be tolerated.
Filler is an expert on criminal law, and he studies the effects the social anxiety on the development of criminal law.