Tuesday, January 12, 2016

You've been Schooled

When it comes to the matter of justice eliminate any prior conceptions, or even misconceptions, it is way worse that any podcast, documentary or story you read.

If you have followed my blog you may know my story, you may have only read portions where I discuss my cases and my lack of resolution in both the civil and criminal courts.  I am exhausted explaining it to people, looking at the sad faces and judgmental ones, the ones that are confused, the ones accusatory, I am just done with it all.  You finally throw in the towel and need to move on but they as in the system never do.

Yesterday I came home to the Supreme Court of Washington accepting my Motion for Discretionary Review. Not of the Medical Malpractice case and that decision by the Court of Appeals that I had failed to file the document of notice correctly and that I had failed to have medical experts as that was the reasoning behind the case and its loss in Superior Court; the issue of merits, my allegations about Harborview was never debated nor questioned.  In fact in Superior Court the only objection was to my reference to the staff of Harborview as Rapists and Criminals.  I have a flair for the dramatic but oddly that  was the one ruling the Judge did rule in my favor and overruled him, she commented that I was angry and that I was allowed to be angry given what she had read.  It was lost purely on technicalities and nowhere did they defendants say it was a frivolous lawsuit and the best thing is that I was alive and had recovered.  The part about despite the shitty care and the abuse not an issue. They did however award costs to the appellants aka the hospital and their one (out of the two) who requested costs. Costs of $300 dollars.

So when the Supreme Court actually takes a motion from a pro se litigant with the only note that my brief was not the correct font size it was actually too small and that I had not redacted my social security number, which for the record is all over the other courts documents so too late anyway, but said they would as it was only two pages long. They then set the schedule for responses and replies and if I wanted an oral argument how to do so. Yes I so want an oral argument over this I could actually then meet this Attorney. The other one I have and he is now crossed to the dark side and is a personal injury Attorney aka "ambulance chaser" now versus "ambulance lawyer."  Its a whole new world!

But at that point we have long crossed the 300 dollar threshold. I suspect that no one would of thought I would have the audacity to carry it that far but I am that angry. The first Judge did call that one correctly.

And how much is this costing the State? I suspect 10 times that.  And who is paying Lawyer 2's bill? The State I presume as Harborview is managed and operated by the University of Washington. The irony is that I had demanded 56K from them in damages when I filed, it has cost the state 3 times that. Who is the adult in this room?  As for truth, there is only one - theirs - yours notsomuch.

So when I read this editorial I can see the blawg community having a bully of a laugh, emphasis on bully, about her thoughts on why people are interested in Serial or Making a Murderer is it because for years we have been inundated on television with Nancy Grace screaming Guilty, off with their heads! CSI solving crimes and looking hot while doing so. And Bad Boys saving cities and getting bad boys off the street without oddly killing them or tasering them to death, that must be the outtake reel.   This is what is being schooled does, you learn another perspective.

But I read this comment regarding the below editorial and this I think puts it rather succinctly:

 A lawyer friend of mind once said that "You are not guaranteed justice, just due process". Where there is a profit motive - in this case measured in convictions, arrests, traffic tickets or perhaps petty revenge, even this will be compromised often as a matter of course. The secondary profit motives stretch from the ticket-mills of Ferguson, MO to the for-profit prisons of Arizona.

The criminal justice industry will change when the metrics and "profit motive" of arrest, conviction and incarceration change, but not until then -- the rest is just armchair quarterbacking and hand wringing.

‘Making a Murderer’ Is About Justice, Not Truth
  By LISA KERN GRIFFIN
The New York Times Opinion Page
 Jan 12 2016

THE release last month of “Making a Murderer,” a 10-part documentary from Netflix, capped a year in which popular culture’s portrayal of the criminal justice system seems to have shifted. Out with the old tropes about truth-seeking investigators and tidy resolutions; in with the disquieting, dysfunctional reality of many courtrooms and police stations. The documentary, which has captivated viewers and critics, chronicles the trials of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey for the 2005 killing of Teresa Halbach.

 Its depiction of alleged police corruption and prosecutorial bias has inspired some viewers to quip that they hope they are never arrested in Manitowoc, Wis., the county where the two men were convicted. But what happened to them happens to low-status criminal defendants across the country all the time.

Searing images of law enforcement abuses in Chicago, Cleveland and elsewhere have eroded the public’s trust in police power on the street. At the same time, serialized true-crime programs, such as “Making a Murderer” and the first season of the podcast “Serial,” are bringing the failures of due process into focus: careless police work, flawed forensics, forceful interrogations, unreliable witnesses and the woeful condition of state-funded criminal defense. It takes hours rather than seconds to appreciate this procedural violence.

That hasn’t stopped listeners and viewers. “Serial” was downloaded some 75 million times. (Netflix doesn’t release any audience statistics, but “Making a Murderer” has generated widespread discussion in social and traditional media.) Yet after the shows are over, audiences still hunger for narrative resolution.

Reddit users have written thousands of posts about “Making a Murderer,” weighing evidence and acting as armchair detectives trying to find the “true” perpetrator. Petitions seeking pardons for Mr. Avery and Mr. Dassey have gathered 380,000 signatures.

A spinoff from the “Serial” podcast, sponsored by the defendant’s lawyers, updates listeners on appellate claims and advocates for a retrial. Why wouldn’t Americans want a satisfying finale? Our culture is steeped in procedural crime dramas.

 Hundreds of “Law and Order” episodes concluded with definitive guilty verdicts, punctuated by a signature sound effect. CBS’s hit show “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” suggested that instant forensics always yielded definitive results. The desire for closure is understandable, but a tidy conclusion is rarely attainable, and all of the Internet sleuthing and speculating can be distracting.

Yes, post-conviction DNA testing and the work of Innocence Projects around the country have exonerated more than 1,700 defendants. Those cases heighten awareness of potential errors and demonstrate that wrongful convictions happen. But Americans shouldn’t expect certainty about innocence.

 Sometimes the focus on finding new evidence to exonerate distracts from the question of whether or not the old evidence proved guilt. Mr. Avery, the focus of “Making a Murderer,” had a 1985 sexual assault conviction overturned after forensic proof of his innocence emerged. In the closing line of the documentary, he says, “The truth always comes out sooner or later.”

That line feels unfortunately misplaced. We may never know the facts behind the gruesome murder of which Mr. Avery was accused. Nor did “Serial” “solve” the 1999 murder case it exhaustively explored. The lack of resolution may be as valuable a lesson as the evidence of law enforcement misconduct.

When I was a federal prosecutor, I had the luxury of working only on carefully screened cases with strong evidence. But fewer than 70,000 federal felonies are prosecuted each year, while roughly 2.5 million felonies proceed through the state courts. Many state cases involve near-simultaneous investigation and prosecution. One rarely finds out “what really happened.”

 The prosecutor in Mr. Avery’s trial argued in his closing statement that “reasonable doubts are for innocent people.” They are not. And procedural protections like access to defense counsel and freedom from coerced interrogations extend to both the innocent and the guilty. The real contribution of these documentaries is not to ask “whodunit” but to reveal what was done to the defendants.

 As listeners and viewers consume these stories, they are reminded of the humanity of the individuals involved — and they learn to see the defendants as more than abstractions. That knowledge should lead people to understand that resolution and justice are not the same thing. And whether or not the truth of these crimes ever comes out, shows, podcasts and narrative articles can make the public aware of distortions that occur in the legal process.

The United States’ criminal justice system needs fewer guilt-assuming interrogation tactics, more disclosure of potentially exculpatory information to the defense, expanded oversight units within prosecutors’ offices to investigate potential miscarriages of justice, and fuller appellate scrutiny of convictions. The moment is ripe for reform, culturally and politically.

There is even some bipartisan support for legislation to reduce some federal criminal sentences and address the problem of mass incarceration. But unless our empathy generates demand for greater procedural integrity, only the narrative will change while the system stays the same.  

Lisa Kern Griffin is a professor at Duke Law School and a former federal prosecutor.

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