Saturday, October 24, 2009

Juvenile's sentenced to life in prison

Recently I did an assignment for my Civil Rights class on two cases that the US Supreme Court is taking up in November.  The cases are Graham v. Florida and Sullivan v. Florida.  Both cases involve 13 year old boys that were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for non-homicide crimes.

Why does this country allow such a thing to take place.  We are talking about children here.  Mr. Sullivan is now 27, and has been abused so badly in prison, that he is in a wheelchair and will be for the rest of his life.  In addition, he was tried as an adult at 13, and sent to an adult prison at 14. 

What is it about this nation that is willing to write off a 13 year old?  What if I were to tell you that there are only 9 13 year olds serving this sentence in the world?  All of them in the United States?  Or that 8 of the 9 juveniles are black?  Because that is the truth.  What purpose does this sentence serve?  When did we decide that a 13 year old can even comprehend what the crime was they committed and should be punished, rather than rehabilitated through other methods?

I don't like this.  As a mother, I abhor this thought.  I think it reflects horribly on our society.  And I will be watching the Supreme Court closely to see what they do.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lawyer Advertising

 One of things covered second year is professional responsibility.  In other words, ethics.  One thing that is apparent is that lawyers are not that respected in society.  And some lawyers do not help this.  Describing one as a "pit bull" does not help with this stereotype.  Take a look around You Tube at the commercials for lawyers---terrible.  It is that idiocy that leads and perpetuates the reputation that lawyers have earned. 

Some would look at this attached commercial and think, cute, original, harmless.  I look at it and see comparing a highly skilled attorney to a dog that is known to kill and to go for the kill.  Lawyering, good lawyering, involves skill and diplomacy, not animalistic kill instincts.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I have been remiss in that I have not mentioned that this month is domestic violence awareness month.  This cause is near and dear to my heart for many reasons, but the top one being that I am a survivor of domestic abuse.  I was married to a man that abused me.

I experienced the charm, the isolation, the verbal tearing down, and the physical abuse that follows this.  Sometimes I look back at that young woman of yesteryear and I do not recognize her anymore, yet she is very much in the make up of my DNA.  This is the part of me that makes me passionate as an advocate. This is the part of me that fights for the child, who wants to prosecute those who use their hands for hurting, this is the part of me that recognizes that women who live in this hell, can rise up and conquer that which hunts them.

Someday, I hope to do something in the legislature that strengthens sentencing for abusers.  Right now, a first offense, if prosecuted, is 5-10 days in the pokie and batterer's intervention.  But the women who live this life, these women know that this is not enough and there is no incentive to report anything.  He will be out, and he will hunt again.  This is about power and control.  And an abuser never really gives that up.  Not even years later.  He will dig, and do what he can to undermine and control.

1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives at the hand of an intimate partner.  1 in 7 men will experience the same.  Our country needs to be educated to know longer blame the victim.  She does not choose to be beaten.  And neither can she simply choose to leave.  If it were that easy, she would have done so long ago.

This is a clip to a video by John Michael Montgomery.  The song came out before I experienced abuse, but I remember how it made an impression.  I still cry when I hear it.  But for the grace of God......

Another Milestone

I can't believe that another law school milestone has passed today.  I had my picture taken for the law school hall of fame.  I will not be there forever, even after I die, for all to look at and wonder.  So, when you are a baby, your parents take tons of embarrassing pictures and display them everywhere--doesn't matter, they are all cute.  But then you get older, and you have to pick one picture out of 20 terrible ones, and then you have to pay for it so that it is immortalized forever.  YAY.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Comedy Time and Laughs

I have seen some cats do some funny things in my time.  But this is one of the funniest!!!!  I needed a laugh today, and this gave it to me.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Welfare Queen

I am taking a class called Race and Racism.  I have found this class to be very interesting because it exposes the roots of racism in our country.  Little things that we don't think about, stereotypes we have been spoonfed without even realizing.  To pass this class I have to write a paper.  I chose my topic.  While I was in undergrad I wrote a thesis called The Paradox.  I took a sharp look the 1996 Welfare Reform Act as it applied to victims of Domestic Violence.

For my topic in this class, I am looking at the same act, but how the work first attitude affects the single mother and how the title that Regan coined the Welfare Queen actually is a stereotype spoonfed to us, that has led to a perpetuating the cycle of poverty, especially in African-American single mothers.  The truth is that Welfare Reform needed to be done, but our country has gone about it the wrong way.  Everyone knows that education is the key to overcoming and surviving poverty.  But instead, our country pushes women with low skills and little education into low paying jobs.  These jobs cannot support their children, or their needs.  And what is alarming is that most single mothers that are African American do not ever receive any child support.  The cycle continues.  Wouldn't it be better to build strong families through education?  Giving the mothers skills to survive and thrive and in the process, passing down the message to their children that education is important so stay in school and do well?  But no, instead we say, you are able bodied, so go out an work that minimum wage job---forget if you have to pay 1000 dollars in childcare, rent, food, and living expenses.  Too bad if you become homeless.   Too bad if you max out on welfare and your kids can't eat tonight.  Too bad, you made the choice to have them, you got to live with it.  Seems sanctimonious to me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What to do?

When you start law school, all the administrators and professors say to you, "If you think you know what kind of law you want to practice, you are wrong.  You will change your mind."

I came to law school to be a prosecutor.  My desire to do so has not diminished at all.  What has happened, is that I have realized that you have to leave your options open.  That dream job may not be open for you when you graduate.  So, you have to decide what you would be comfortable practicing.  For me, I know business law would stifle me and kill me with boredom. 

Working where I do has taught me that I want to prosecute, but I could easily do defense too.  This is, what I believe, a good attorney can do.  S/he will be comfortable on either side of the table, willing to deal, willing to enforce the constitution.

I say this to everyone so that you know, that yes, you could change your mind.  But you might end up being like me and knowing that criminal law is what I want to do and it has not gone away, it has just broadened to a new understanding.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Introducing Dear Daughters Blog

Look to the right and you will find a link to my dear daughter's blog.  She is going to be writing about what it is like to be a child of a law school student!  I expect there will be other things that she will put on there that is on her mind.  Enjoy!

Can't Believe My Eyes

This was one lucky baby, and one lucky Baby's Mother.  I can't believe that the mother would not make sure the tires were locked.

Friday, October 16, 2009

H1N1 Paranoia

The law school Dean sent a message out:  while attendance will still be taken, sanctions will not apply.  Willamette has an attendance policy--you must attend 75% of your classes, or you do not get to sit for the exam, which means you do not pass the class.  But because of the H1N1 scare, the school is actively encouraging students to stay at home at the first sign of any sickness---and you will still be able to sit for exams.

At work, the state office has passed out a box of Kleenex and antibacterial Purrell for every office.  Then came the email that said to use the hand sanitizer frequently as to avoid the spread illness.

I have never seen anything like this in all my years.  Do you think it is warranted?

What's on your mind?

I want to be able to answer my readers questions.  I know you are out there, I hear from you!  So, please, if there are any suggestions you have, any questions, anything you want to know about making this journey we call law school----ask me. 

I feel so blessed to be on this road and I want to pay it forward.  The most valuable tool you have, is the wisdom of those who have walked the path before you.......

TIP: Public Assistance

Before starting law school, I use to scorn public assistance.  But let's be frank, law school is an expensive endeavor.  No financial aid office is going to tell you this, and neither will admissions, but as a single parent, you will qualify for food stamps, and possibly other assistance. 

When the compute how much in food stamps you get, they will ask for income.  The thing is that they cannot count student loans in with your income.  Nor scholarships, only Pell Grants.  And if you have done any research on financial aid, you will know that there are no Pell Grants for graduate degrees.

So, if you are like me you balk at food stamps and pride may get in the way.  But, remember that you have paid into the system, and once you are an attorney you WILL pay into the system big time.  So, use it now, when it could really make a difference.  For my budget, it really did make a HUGE difference.  Plus, if you receive food stamps, your child is eligible for free lunches at school once you apply.

Don't let your pride get you.  Get the help you need so that you can get through school.  

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Great Time Tonight

One thing I would encourage any law student to do is to take advantage of free memberships that your Career Services department might sponsor.  I wrote awhile back that I was being sponsored through my school for the American Inn of Courts.  I had another meeting tonight and I would say that this networking opportunity is invaluable.  You will meet lawyers, professors, and judges.  Tonight, I sat next to a Circuit Court Judge that someday I will appear before.  Over the next year, I will have lots of opportunities for face time with people who I will work with in the years to come.  I had a great time getting to know the people I will work with in the future.

Funny enough, I had emailed an attorney for work today.  Tonight, our school introduced each of us.  After dinner, this attorney I had emailed came over and introduced himself.  Was very interesting to meet opposing counsel outside of the adversary situation across a courtroom from each other.

My point being.....take advantage of all memberships that will give you networking opportunities, especially if you plan on practicing in the area.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Big Day

Today felt like another huge step in my journey to become an attorney.  I turned in my first application for a position as an attorney.  Obviously, any job I was offered would be contingent on passing the bar, but this was the first step in what I think will be many.

As part of the process, I had to get two written recommendations from lawyers I work with.  The nice things that were said about me, had me wanting to blush or cry, I am not sure which.  One described me as professional and fearless in court.  WOW, not bad for a law student.  The other said that I conducted myself in court with a composure that he has not seen in many attorney's who have been practicing for years.  I consider these things to be the best part of all of law school, to have people I admire think such nice things.

Beyond that, it brings the end of school to be that much closer---and scarier.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tell Me What You Think

I have messed with the template and format of the blog. I wanted to jazz things up a bit and am having fun bringing a bit of splash to the page.  If you saw the bubble gum pink I had before---then take a second and let me know what you think of this new template.

OMG! Time has flown

Seemed a simple thing today....I went and checked my mailbox at work. Inside that box was the 2010-2011 calendars. As I sat and looked at it, I realized something that nearly gave me a panic attack. I AM SEVEN MONTHS AWAY FROM GRADUATION. Where did the time go exactly? Somehow it seems to have gone fast, but slow....and now it is going faster. Does this make any sense.

The goal is in sight. The sacrifices are starting to feel a bit on the severe side, but worth it. My daughter and I are on our way to security--assuming I find a job:) Which brings me to the next part--looking for a job in my new career is right around the corner.

I did not start my undergraduate experience until I was in my late 20's. I thought then it would take forever to get here today. And strangely enough, here I am a short few months away. People said it would fly. And last year, I kept hearing, "Your third year flies by so fast." Both were true although I kept thinking that these people were just trying to give me a ray of hope. But it was really a piece of the truth.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Obama Promise Tracker

Much is being made about the promises that Obama made while campaigning and whether he has kept these promises. I find this a very interesting discussion. This last campaign season seemed to be so full of promises from both sides--some fantastic promises that I knew would not be kept.

Like, closing Guantanamo. I knew that one would not happen, primarily because what would we do with these people? Now the stakes are heating up again. Obama winning a Noble Peace prize has made many wonder what has he done---other than to make promises? Then we hear that he won because of the promise that he brings to the world? Huh? Really?

I am still sitting back observing. Mainly because I think that 10 months into a new administration is too early to judge. But, to me, nothing looks to promising. Right now the democrats have the power, 60 Senate seats, control of the house, and the Presidency, but nothing is happening. This seems weird to me.

Some promises are promises I cannot believe a former law school professor made. Obama KNOWS about the three branches of government. He knows that he cannot make law, he can only sign a bill into law. So how could he promise a rescinding of DOMA, that's for the congress to do. How can he promise the gay and lesbian community laws that would give them status as a suspect class? That is what Congress must do! How can he promise health care? Again, that's what Congress does. How could he promise the rescinding of Don't Ask, Don't Tell--oh wait, he could but he has not!

I remember being promised hope and CHANGE. So far I see no change. I see a bunch of blowhards doing nothing but fighting about semantics while the rest of the real country suffers. So, I am still waiting, watching, and hoping, but to be truthful, each day that passes dims the hope.

If you want to check out what promises Obama has kept, broken, or done nothing about, here you go: Politifact

Friday, October 9, 2009

Movie Review: The Boys are Back

Last night, I had the opportunity to go to a screening of the film, The Boys Are Back [it's a Miramax film]. Clive Owen plays Joe Warr, a grieving widow who is struggling to raise his young son Artie. Joe institutes this "Just Say Yes" philosophy of single parenting, I think to ease his young sons grief at losing his mother. To add to the mix, Harry, a teenage son Joe left behind 8 years before in England, decides that he wants to spend time with his father. What follows is a poignant journey of a family trying to find their way through the grief that each of them is suffering for life's losses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I cried, I laughed hysterically at times, and I identified completely with Joe on several occasions as I watched his attempts at being a single parent. In the end, Joe finds that while single parenthood is an inadequate parental unit for raising kids, that he likes it. That he is happy and fulfilled. That sometimes he is lonely, but that life is really good.