I read a suggestion that a law be passed to require jail time when a driver accidentally kills a police officer ["No jail, 'no justice,' " News, Feb. 22]. Our legal system treats accidents and intentional acts differently for a reason.

Taking action because the results of an accident cause a lifetime of pain does not outweigh the wisdom of years of thought and experience that have gone into the English system of common law from which our legal system has evolved. That system has decided that you cannot eliminate pain by simply inflicting more pain.

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It is necessary to weigh all the factors involved in determining the right course of action. We do not have -- nor, when we are the ones being judged, do we want -- cookie-cutter justice. There is more than enough pain in the world without unreasoningly adding to it.

Whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or atheist, we must remind ourselves that we should treat others as we would want the person we love most in this world to be treated in the same circumstances. At the least, that should be to listen to them, take into account where they are, and what result the punishment will have on them, as well as on the victim and the victim's family.

Everyone makes mistakes. Most of us have been lucky to avoid injuring others when we have done so. Are we going to eliminate mercy completely from our justice system? Do we want our mistakes judged by such a standard? May God help us!

James Schultz, Lake Ronkonkoma

Editor's note: The writer is a lawyer.