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Posts Tagged ‘lawyers’

     For those who have not heard the news story this past week; a man by the name of Bruce Pardo dressed up as Santa and went on a shooting rampage directed at his ex-wife and her family.  He was aware that they held an annual Christmas party.  He had been planning this for quite some time.   About a week or so before the shootings took place…Bruce Pardo and his estranged wife,  Sylvia, were officially divorced after 2 years of marriage.  This man who dressed up as Santa, needed help.   If he had gotten it…maybe this tragedy would not have happened.

        It sounds as if  the Pardo’s marriage was one of deceipt.  Mr. Pardo had not disclosed to his wife that he had a child from a previous relationship that he did not see, nor did he help support.  It seems that when this child was a toddler in Mr. Pardo’s care; the child ended up in a pool and almost drowned.  The young child is now around the age of 7 ; but, Bruce Pardo kept this child a secret from his wife.  She discovered that the child existed by going through tax papers and finding out that he claimed the child as a dependent.  He denied the situation and Sylvia called her mother in law who confirmed that a child did in fact exist and was disabled.   She filed for divorce…he did not want it.

       It seems that during this time…Bruce also lost his job and then was ordered, by the court, to pay support to his soon to be ex-wife.  By all appearances…Bruce did his best to follow through on the court’s dissolution of his marriage….yet, all along he planned his revenge on the woman who divorced him and those who were closest to her and helped her to leave him. 

        Bruce rented two vehicles and he had things planned out.  He had an extra large Santa suit made up for him.  It seems that at the annual party, Santa always showed up.  He went to the home with a gift in his hand…when the door was opened by a young 8 year old girl…he opened fire, shooting her in the face.  He then went about shooting and looking for specific people.  After he shot the people he went looking for…he then used a homemade device to set the home on fire; inadvertantly causing himself 3rd degree burns when part of the Santa suit melted into his skin from the incendiary device he used to start the fire.

         People in the home had tried to hide and some were able to flee.  A sister of Sylvia’s escaped to a neighbors with the young 8 year old girl who was shot in the face.  She was able to call 911.  After starting the fire, Bruce Pardo shot out street lights…allegedly to help further his escape. 

         People are speculating that he had plans to shoot his own mother who was planning on attending the Christmas party, at her ex-daughter in laws parents home.  She felt ill that evening and was not able to attend.  Bruce blamed his mother for siding with Sylvia in the divorce.    Also allegedly a possible victim of violence was the divorce lawyer who represented Sylvia.  One of the rental vehicles was sitting near the lawyers home. 

        It appears that Bruce changed his plans after he was burned.  It is thought that he was in great pain.  He allegedly had purchased a plane ticket for Illinois to go there and cross the state line into Iowa to see a friend.  He also had about 17,ooo.oo dollars plastic wrapped to his body.   Instead of implementing those plans…he drove approximately 30-40 miles to his brothers home and broke in and shot himself dead.

         What is hard to understand is; didn’t anyone who knew him or had occasion to spend time with him, during the weeks preceding the violence, see his mental breakdown?  Was he so good at hiding his wrath that he was able to misleed the people in his life?  Or did he isolate himself a this time?

         Those familiar with the divorce situation say that he seemed almost eager to have it over with.  The neighbors say that he was friendly and even wished them a Merry Christmas after telling them he was attending a Christmas party. 

          People who knew him said he was a friendly guy.  They are shocked.  And yet, a close friend of Sylvia allegedly said that Sylvia said he changed almost immediately after the marriage.  He became secretive.  Others say that Bruce had a secret guilt about the child that was gravely injured on his watch.  The mother of the child allegedly says that he was involved when the child was in the hospital; but then…he didn’t visit nor did he support the child.  In fact, he kept the child a secret from many…including his new wife.

         The thing is…people who struggle with mental health issues dont always get the help that they need.  Bruce Pardo needed that kind of help to cope with the feelings that he had from the tragedy that happened to his child.  He needed support and counseling to heal up from the guilt that he most likely felt after the child was injured.  He needed to have pre-marital counseling to help him break the news of this part of his life to his intended wife. 

          Sylvia needed a husband who could share this past with her.  She needed him to seek marriage counseling when their marriage appeared to flounder shortly after it began.  She needed some indication that the man she married was deeply disturbed and capable of such violence.  She needed protection from the man that she fell in love with. 

          Experts will tell you that people who are in a state of flux…or life changes are often the most vulnerable for domestic violence.  This is a dangerous time when emotions are raw and assets or custody rights are at stake.  Passions are running high.  It should almost  be mandatory to have to have some sort of counseling to help people through the maze of emotion and legal wrangling that takes place.

          I can’t help but to think of those that lost their lives and those who were left behind to deal with the aftermath.  God help them.  The things that they saw and heard will live with them for a very long time.  And what about those who weren’t there; but, were directly affected such as Bruce Pardo’s mother or his brother.  What about them?  People need to pray for all of them.  They are not responsible for his actions…and yet, they are directly affected by them as much as Sylvia’s family and friends.  His brother…can you imagine…how will he ever be able to go back into his home?  He has to wonder…why did his brother come there to commit suicide?   His mother…she was obviously friendly with Sylvia and her family; how will she relate to the surviving members?  They are all hurting…will they be able to help support one another or will it be too painful for them to see each other?

          So many questions and so few answers.  The thing is…unfortunately…people who are depressed or going through trauma often don’t think past the moment, about the long term effects of their actions.  It is the survivors that are left to cope with both the questions and the answers.

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        Well, Wednesday, September 03, 2008 is the day of wreckoning (reckoning) for Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.  He has tried several legal manuevers to avoid going before Govenor Jennifer Granholm, in the hearing, to decide whether he should be removed as mayor of Detroit; due to the request of the Detroit City council.  It was claimed that the Govenor didn’t have the power to remove him as the laws were ambiguous. 

         On Tuesday, September 02, a circuit judge for Wayne County declared that Govenor Granholm could indeed be impartial in the hearing.   Mr. Kilpatrick had tried to say that she was was not able to remain impartial in a removal hearing.   The court of appeals have also now rejected a request to stop the Govenor from holding the removal hearing on Wednesday.

           It could be a while before we hear the outcome of the hearing…however, the people of Michigan will see some sort of resolution soon.

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       Breaking news on the mayor of Detroit; he disregarded instructions by the court to get prior authorization before leaving the state of Michigan (not to mention the country) when he recently traveled to Windsor, Canada.  The mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, said that he was traveling to Windsor to try to make a deal to save approximately 1,000 jobs in Detroit.  He was under court order to get prior permission for traveling…either for personal or professional reasons.  He chose to travel without that authorization.  He apologized to the judge, Ronald Giles, saying that no one respected the legal process, that he was in, more than him.  The mayor has admitted that he did in fact travel to Windsor and therefore violated the court order.  The judge ordered him jailed for violating his court order of getting prior authorization.  It is serious business when the mayor of a large metropolitan city chooses to operate outside of legal boundaries…as this case illustrates…a price has to be paid.  This case has had a large impact on it’s community’s ability to function with any degree of efficiency.  There is so much legal wrangling going on…how does any of the city’s business get addressed with any appropriate focus?  (more…)

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        Guantanamo Bay or Gitmo, as it is often referred to, has been infamous since it was turned into a detention center for suspected terrorists.   Those who have been detained there have been allegedly branded as enemy combatants to the United States.   Now there are questions regarding the standard operating procedures; have they been trashed to get confessions?

           Some people feel that the rights of the detainees have been violated since the Bush administration stated that the Geneva Conventions protection did not have to be provided to the prisoners.  The US Supreme court disagreed with the Bush administration and future prisoners will NOW be afforded those protections.  The question is, what happens to those already in custody?  Those in custody have to prepare some kind of defense if they hope to get released. 

         In the meantime, much concern has been raised about those in legal limbo in the detention center. There are some detainees who could be released if the US could find countries willing to take them.   After all, what country is going to want to take in someone who has been accused of terrorism, whether it was proven or not?   Some detainees have already been released; but, many are still awaiting trial. 

            Questions have been raised about some of the interrogation techniques used to get confessions.  Were the confessions legitimate; or, were they obtained because of abusive or harsh treatment during questioning?  What if a person truly was guilty of the charges…but, the evidence was gotten because of hard interrogation techniques…is that acceptable; after all, some of the crimes alleged are pretty horrific?  Or, as a “civilized nation” are we bound to provide “humane” conditions; do the ends justify the means?

        Lawyers charged with providing legal representation for their clients are alledging that a standard operating procedures manual from the Pentagon had instructions to “destroy or trash” hand written notes or documents from the interrogations; in case the interrogators were called to testify, regarding harsh treatment of those kept in the detention center.  The lawyers claim that not having those handwritten notes makes representing their clients difficult because it is hard to prove that their “client’s confessions” were gotten in an intimidating way or through an abuse of power.

       If evidence has been suppressed by the government…that carries serious legal consequences for anyone in this situation.  While terrorism is a huge concern and we all want those involved in it to be apprehended…we have to examine the limits to the methods that we allow interrogators to use to get that information. 

          Detainees proven to be guilty, without a shadow of doubt, of alleged terrorist activities should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  That is why it is so very important about the way the information is gathered….we wouldn’t want a true terrorist to get away with it legally, because of an illegal method of gathering that evidence.

           Where should the line be drawn between the war on terrorism and humane treatment of suspected criminals?  Or should we have limits at all?  If we don’t have limits…how do we discern the difference between ourselves and those considered to be terrorists?   What about national security; what if releasing some of that information jeparodizes the safety of American citizens?  These are not simple questions, nor are the answers easy to come up with.  What do you think?

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        It should have been a fairly local news story…however, a mayor from a fairly large metropolitan city in America who is being accused of felony charges of perjury and other assorted charges; throw in some secret behind the scene deal, allegedly made with lawyers regarding the officers who had recordings showing alleged proof of his salacious, sexual text messages between him and his alleged former (female) chief of staff; as well as, a formal legal proceedings (initiated by the City Council and signed into motion by Govenor Granholm) trying to forcibly remove him from office…and you have a national news story worthy of a tabloid newspaper.  Still, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is basically saying, Heck No…I won’t Go.

         His basic legal argument is that the council doesn’t have legal standing to remove him from office because he says the law states that the only legal grounds a council has to remove him is a felony conviction or for a lack of qualifications. 

          So, when the council formally asked the Governor to remove Kilpatrick from office and went through the formalities….Mayor Kilpatrick vetoed the Council’s vote requesting his ouster by Governor Granholm. Wow!!!  There is some fancy footwork going on.

          No, I won’t leave office…because I haven’t been “convicted of a felony” even though i am being charged with felony charges…i haven’t been convicted yet…therefore…i don’t have to leave office (yet).   

            Can you imagine having to try to work together effectively to run a city as large as Detroit with such opposite agenda’s?  Is this fair to the citizen’s of Detroit to have this kind of standoff going on in their city’s governing body?  I wonder how long of a process this will take, to get a decision that is definate in whether he will be allowed to stay or forced out of office. 

          Some of the allegations are downright embarassing.  His wife appears to be still standing behind him.  After all, if the texts truly represent that he had an ongoing relationship with his female former chief of staff…that is damaging to a marriage and will take some major time and energy to repair (if the people involved are truly repentent for their actions…which doesn’t appear to be the case based on this ongoing legal defiance). 

           Then you get into the legal stuff and it would seem that his professional hands would be bound so tight that he would not be able to perform his duties as Mayor.   Is he in denial about the situation; or, is it just a delaying technique?  If he is going to end up removed…who is paying for all of this legal wrangling…are our tax dollars going into this legal battle?  Is there such a thing as being sued for political malpractice?  If so, this situation seems to invite such a suit.  Do you think Mayor Kilpatrick should stay or go?

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         Yesterday, Wesley Snipes was sentenced for 3 years for tax fraud; for not filing his tax returns for approximately three years.  Wow, they are really making an example of him.  I am sure…Joe Smoe will think twice about it if they are tempted not to file; or, not to pay when they owe taxes.   This conviction will have a huge IMPACT on those tempted not to pay.   No-one wants to, willingly, go through this kind of trauma, if they can avoid it…unless they got screws loose.

         On the radio this morning, i heard that Mr. Snipes allegedly paid the court 5 million dollars in back taxes….with something like 30 million, or so to go!  Wowee, how many zillions of dollars does a person have to make to OWE that kind of money in taxes and penalties?  I, for one, don’t want to ever be in that position.  Maybe it isn’t so bad being a middle class Joe Smoe!  🙂 

         I am sure that Mr. Snipes’ lawyers will appeal this sentence; but, more than likely, that will only delay the event.  There was plenty of star power personal references presented to the court, attesting to Mr. Snipes character…but, it didn’t seem to make a difference.  The government is going to hold up this conviction so that the public will pay close attention to the consequences.

        I feel badly for Mr. Snipe’s family.  The stress of paying that kind of money plus, worry over their loved one going to prison has to be overwhelming.  If Mr. Snipes was a victim of poor tax advice…that is bad enough.  However, if he choose to put himself in this position, rebelling against having to part with his money…then the sentence is deserved.   It was alleged, in court, that he not only willfully was rebelling, he was hiding money overseas and through friends and family.  Understand that the prosecution presented evidence that this was not just a whim or a mistake…they alledged that this went on for a decade.  In that case, three years of prison time, should allow for enough time to reflect on the error of his ways.

          None of us have the ability to read his mind and determine his actions; thankfully, that responsibility was up to the judge and jury.  If nothing else, this conviction just reinforces the old saying…there is nothing sure about life, except death and taxes!!!

         

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       This recent news item flipped my sense of injustice/justice button.  I read a news report about an elderly woman who lives in New York City.  This woman’s name is Galila Huff and she is a smoker.  She owns a restaurant in town; but, she isn’t allowed to smoke there because state law forbids smoking in restaurants or bars. 

       Ms Huff has lived in her apartment for 15 years which is a few blocks away from her restaurant.  She has smoked in her apartment for years with no problems.  It is her personal place of residence.  The problem started about 5 years or so ago when new neighbors moved into her building.  They  allegedly started complaining about smelling smoke in the communal hallway. 

       Ms Huff made attempts to contain the smoke in her personal living space; after she was made aware of the situation by a letter from her neighbors.  She had the walls of her apartment insulated, she tried to quit smoking…and wasn’t successful, she purchased four large air purifiers, she had the airducts sealed, improved the windows, and still the neighbors complained about the smell of smoke.

       The neighbors allegedly filed a lawsuit.  They first sent her a letter telling her to quit smoking IN HER APARTMENT until such a time that she could ventilate the smoke away from the hallway outside of her door.  For the record, the neighbors are each lawyers.  They have a small child.  They claim that the smoke in the hallway endangers their health and that of their child.

      Since they moved into the apartment, long after Ms Huff established the apartment building as her residence, you would think they would have noticed the smell when they were considering moving into the building. 

        Regardless, i am not a huge fan of cigarette smoke.  I am myself allergic to it.  But, this legal fight seems a bit over the top to me.  I mean it would be different, i think, had Ms. Huff not taken some corrective actions to reduce the amount of smoke that could be released into the hallway. 

        She didn’t ignore their request. Doesn’t she have a right to smoke in her home?   Certainly, i can understand their right to a smoke free environment; but, since Ms. Huff did take action if they still felt that an excess amount of smoke was entering the hallway endangering them …shouldn’t they consider moving themselves?  Or perhaps, they could consider installing an air purifier in their own apartment.  This i am sure is very stressful for all involved.

        I guess, i don’t understand what more they can realistically expect Ms. Huff to do.  It seems abusive to me to continue to bully her when she has made an honest attempt to improve the situation.

        From what i understand, this shared hallway is like 10 feet wide and a hundred feet long and the neighbor’s doorway is 50 feet approximately away from Ms. Huff’s doorway.  Is Ms. Huff legally responsible to do more?  I certainly hope not. 

        I do believe in people respecting each others personal space when smoking…but, i also believe that once she was made aware of the problem, that Ms. Huff truly attempted to correct it.  To me, the whole situation is over the top. 

         Hopefully, the judge who rules on this suit will use a heavy dose of common sense to decide the case.   If all is right in the world, the judge will refund any excess court cost incurred by Ms Huff, after she attempted to reticfy the situation, due to the continued legal badgering from her neighbors.  That would balance things a bit i think.

      

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