Archive for November, 2013

30
Nov
13

burning down the house

house burning

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to The Talking Heads performing “Burning Down the House”

29
Nov
13

glamour

glamour

It’s “Black Friday” out there.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Television performing “No Glamour for Willi”

28
Nov
13

thanksgiving: a date

thanksgiving

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.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to The Commitments performing “I Thank You”

27
Nov
13

pretty woman

pretty woman 3

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Roy Orbison performing “Oh, Pretty Woman”

26
Nov
13

indian love call

beautiful girl

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.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Slim Whitman performing “Indian Love Call”

25
Nov
13

a new alliance

tumblr_mbg2pwz7c31rojphdo1_500

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.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Queen performing “We Are The Champions”

24
Nov
13

ice storm

ice in Chihuahuan DesertDays 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.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Claude Thornhill performing “Snowfall”

23
Nov
13

big jet plane

treesplanepop[1]

By Steven Rydberg, one of my favorite artists.

Last night it got down to 28 degrees, with a small amount of precipitation. This morning there is a light dusting of snow, and the desert plants are encased in ice. It is uncomfortably cold, inside and out. Waiting for warmer days ahead.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Angus and Julia Stone performing “Big Jet Plane”

22
Nov
13

half century anniversary

jfk

John F. Kennedy’s assassination, when I was fifteen, absolutely shaped the way I have viewed history ever since. It turned me into a political cynic. It imbued me with a bedrock political belief in a variation on P.T. Barnum’s famous saying that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. The loss of someone so shining and almost magical was proof that in the end, we get the government we deserve.

Talk about bait and switch. We started out with John Kennedy and ended up with Lyndon Johnson and the utter disaster of the Vietnam War.

It is so tempting to believe that everything would have turned out differently if Kennedy had lived. Predictably a new history has recently appeared by historian Thurston Clarke, claiming just this.  In JFK’s Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President, Clarke makes use of recently released materials to assert that Kennedy was a changed man from the popular image that has survived his murder.

Clarke says that Kennedy was a man coming into his own just prior to his death, that he was finding comfort in his decision making, and at last learning to find the passion and force to back causes he supported, much as Abraham Lincoln would do regarding slavery. He was even in the process of becoming a better husband.

Here Kennedy takes on the cause of peace, finding the will to work towards detente with the Soviet Union and Cuba (even contemplating a joint mission with the Russians to the moon), and potentially scaling back from Vietnam. On the home front, civil rights was clearly dominant, but during these days Kennedy was pressing Congress to pass the “stimulus tax cut” and immigration reform as well as the civil rights bill and working with advisors and cabinet members on what would become Medicare and the War on Poverty.

November 22, 1963. Dallas, Texas, at 12:30 central time. Everyone alive on that date remembers where he or she was. In retrospect, it was the end and just the beginning.

.

jfk2.

jfk9.

jfk10.

jfk5.

jfk3.

Dallas-Morning-News-Kennedy-Commemorative-Edition1

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Shorty Long performing “Big D”

21
Nov
13

children’s rights

childrens rights 4

Assurance of Children’s Rights Long Overdue

by Laurie Gray
The Fort Wayne IN Journal Gazette / November 20, 2013

Today is Universal Children’s Day. This date marks the day the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

Over the past 24 years every country that is a member of the United Nations has accepted or ratified these essential human rights for children–except Somalia and the United States of America.

How can it be that the USA has refused for more than two decades to join with the UN to protect the children of the world? Certain tenets of the convention grant children participatory rights in the judicial process, rights still deemed to conflict with our Constitution.

The Constitution was written at a time when children were property, not people. Our Constitution has been amended to ensure the rights of women and minorities, but there has never been an amendment to protect children as citizens.

Children must wait until they reach 18 years of age, are emancipated or commit a criminal act to be afforded constitutional protection in our country. Our Constitution safeguards the rights of parents to control their children, not the essential human rights of children as persons.

This is true of the Indiana Constitution as well.

Corporal punishment, now considered cruel, unusual and an assault on the human dignity of an adult, is still acceptable when disciplining children. Our Indiana Constitution says that crime victims have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect throughout the criminal justice process (Section 13 (b) of the Indiana Constitution). But our Indiana Supreme Court has systematically determined that child victims do not have these constitutional rights.

Indiana courts have issued a series of decisions making it nearly impossible for child victims of sexual assault to be heard in criminal judicial proceedings against their perpetrators. The Indiana Supreme Court has further construed the rules of evidence and Indiana statutes in a manner that is unfair to children and impedes the truth from being ascertained (contrary to Rule 102), assumes that children are not competent witnesses (contrary to Rule 601) and prohibits trial judges from balancing the probative value of children’s statements with any unfair prejudice, instead excluding all potentially cumulative evidence rather than just that which is unfair or needless (contrary to Rule 403).

As an attorney, author, child advocate and the founder of Socratic Parenting LLC, I frequently present professionally on issues including parenting, bullying and human trafficking. I am now convinced that raising awareness and ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children is a crucial first step in addressing issues such as child abuse, bullying and human trafficking at the local, national and global levels.

How long will the people of Indiana and of the United States tolerate this systematic violation of our children’s civil rights? It’s time for each of us to take a stand. Go to childrightscampaign.org/ to learn more and sign a petition asking the president to submit the UNCRC to the Senate for ratification. All the national resources directed at issues such as bullying and human trafficking are destined to fail until we as a nation stop viewing children as property and start treating them as people.

.

Laurie Gray is a former Allen County IN deputy prosecutor who serves as a forensic interviewer at the Dr. Bill Lewis Center for Children and as an adjunct professor of criminal sciences at Indiana Tech. She wrote this editorial for The Journal Gazette.