Sometimes the readers of this blog know things before I do. They dig up facts about cases and report to me. I am thankful for this, because it keeps me in the know… at least, in the know about the current state of fact as well as rumor.
As you have noticed by now, there’s a lot about particular cases that I know but do not report. This is as it has to be.
I may not have a lot of faith in the American justice system, but if it fails to work for our kids, at least it will not be because of my loose lips. We have to give it a chance to work, and often this means allowing defense attorneys and prosecutors to work behind-the-scenes. Confidentiality does not always mean that something untoward is happening.
Lately I have been besieged by requests about Paul Henry Gingerich’s new court date, but neither Monica Foster nor Paul’s parents have communicated it to me until today. We have heard a rumor started by one of Paul’s sisters on a Facebook page that a new date of December 2nd has been set, and it is only now that I can vouch for its accuracy. Monica thought she had shared the date with me, but her schedule of late has been brutal.
For the time being, I must appeal for your patience and forbearance, and say only beyond this new date that Paul Henry is fortunate to be represented by an attorney as good as Monica. You may not have the proof yet that you desire, but take my word for it: this boy has a lot to be thankful for in his circumstances.
He has Monica, his parents and family, you and me.
Maybe you know this song from the campy film Mars Attacks, maybe you’re an old-timer who knows this selection by more conventional means. But if you listen to it with new ears, it’s really quite beautiful.
We have paid, or caused to be paid, a wide range of fees for the legal defense of parricides. On the high end, legal defense has carried a price-tag of $250,000. On the low end, pro bono representation has carried a price-tag of zero, but “out-of-pocket” expenses have varied from several thousand dollars to $45,000. And we’re only talking about the money involved.
Quality of representation is another question altogether.
I have worked with the best and the worst lawyers, and several steps in-between. I am not claiming to have seen it all, but I assure you: there’s no comparison between the best defense attorney and the typical court-appointed lawyer. I even encountered one guy who got a court to agree to a fee of $40,000 (which is high), but who had not (after months of being this boy’s attorney) even visited his client because the court would not reimburse his auto mileage to the jail and back.
Most parricides are understandably indigent and must rely on court-appointed counsel, who I wouldn’t hire to handle a divorce, let alone the defense of a kid’s life and future. The cynic in me wonders if the poor quality of court-appointed representation isn’t part of many courts’ plans to see parricides committed to the hell of The System, which treats everyone as a criminal (because that’s the only thing it knows how to do).
My own belief is that most kids who kill a parent aren’t criminals at all. They are victims of either unspeakable abuse and have a right to self-defense, or they are mentally unhinged because they’ve taken psychotropic medications that some irresponsible doctor has given out like candy on trick-or-treat night. Once the abuser is out of the picture, parricides rarely go on to reoffend in any way.
That’s a long way of saying that there’s a big problem with business-as-usual. Parricides deserve a second chance and an opportunity to heal. They deserve a first-class defense in every case.
That is why The Redemption Project has allied itself with the Des Moines IA law firm of Kutmus, Pennington and Hook, the firm that successfully represented Noah Crooks in his recent case. They are one of the best legal defense firms in the country. Bill Kutmus and Trever Hook have expressed their willingness to travel anyplace in the US where they are needed, and to charge us (or the parricides’ families) reasonable, non-confiscatory fees for first class representation. They, like us, do not believe that justice in America should go to the highest bidder. They have agreed to develop the defense of parricides as a sub-specialty of their legal practice.
Says Trevor Hook: “The eclipse of juvenile justice spread throughout the United States is unique to the world’s most developed nation, for we rely on warehousing children as though they are chattel. They are kids!”
From this day forward, regardless of the jurisdiction in which our kids find themselves, Kutmus, Pennington and Hook will be our first call for help. In every case, they will bring to the defense of parricides the kind of competence, decency, and level-headedness that we have come to associate the Midwest in all things.
Days like today are why I hate winter. It is grey and windy outside and I can see my breath inside. People have died in neighboring New Mexico.
It seems the only thing to do is pass the time it will take for this weather to change. I spend much of the day bundled in my jacket and sleeping under two blankets—anything to make the day pass faster.
The other day Alex King told me he has adopted much the same strategy. With gain time, he has earned enough early release days for him to be set free earlier in December, but the 31st is the soonest he can be released, regardless of what the computer says. So he sleeps a lot.
Even though I am here at Estrella Vista by my personal choice, I realize I have much in common with my incarcerated parricides. I spend much of my days in a single room with no human contact except by phone and the computer. My diet is simple. My time away from the computer is spent making sure my electrical supply is uninterrupted, my chickens are fed, and my personal hygiene is attended to. If it takes me a long time to answer questions, it is because I’m ducking your emails. If you want to intrude on my solitude, the best thing is to call. I don’t have voicemail, so I always answer the phone if I’m here.
But the biggest difference between me and my parricides is that I live this life of my own free will, while my parricides live theirs the way they do because they are forced to. They are told what to do and when to do it. I can receive phone calls whenever I want to. Parricides must reach out at their initiative to people on an approved list, and they must restrict their conversations to 15-minute stints. I can talk as long as I want, and calls can come from London and New York, as well as Des Moines and Terlingua and places even less interesting. I have a life of endless variety, while my parricides have regimented lives of endless monotony.
The lucky ones are taking classes. Austin and Nathan are completing junior college degrees behind bars. They have active intellectual lives. But they are restricted to what the syllabus for each class dictates. I, on the other hand, can pursue any course of inquiry the Internet opens up to me. So if you are bored or dismayed by my blinkered view, it is my fault entirely.
Last night it was driven home that everything—my education, my ideas, this blog—depends on my ability to generate electricity. The starter cord on the generator broke, and from 8:00 pm until now (4:00 pm) I have been without power. We had to drive to Alpine this morning to get a replacement cord. On the way, I had never seen the roads so bad, and we were stopped for an hour because of downed power lines. We saw two power poles snap before our very eyes. The cord cost five dollars and took twenty minutes to install, but we had to drive 120 miles through the worst weather imaginable to make it happen.
So my apologies for publishing this post so late… but it’s out now, by the skin of my teeth… and with thanks to my neighbor Bill.