The Artist and her “Portrait Seen ‘Round the World” Courtesy Jane Rosenberg (not for duplication)
A word about courtroom artists, please.
In the wake of “Deflategate” or “Sketchgate” or whatever they’re calling the controversy surrounding New England quarterback Tom Brady these days, I think it’s time to speak up for court artists everywhere.
Disclosure: Jane Rosenberg, the artist at the center of the recent storm over her less-than-perfect depiction of the handsome quarterback, is a pal of mine. I have worked alongside her as the reporter covering a court proceeding, she the assigned artist. Rosenberg is a 35-year veteran and widely considered to be one of the best in her field. [click to continue…]
Terminally Ill and Planning His Own Death
While many are debating whether more states should pass “Right to Die” laws Robert Mitton is methodically planning his own death. Death on his terms, as he slips through the cracks of the current conversation about who qualifies for help in ending a life of unbearable pain.
Mitton, 59, has suffered from acute heart disease most of his life, the result of a near fatal childhood bout with rheumatic fever. Fifteen years ago, on November 17, 1999, Robert finally agreed to allow surgeons to swap out his damaged aortic heart valve with a bovine replacement. He was told the cow valve had a shelf life of ten to 15 years. Next week marks the expiration date for the lifesaving foreign body that lives in his chest. [click to continue…]
Lee Boyd Malvo Self-Portrait
Lee Boyd Malvo, inmate No. 330873, incarcerated at the super-maximum Red Onion State Prison in Pound, Va., has a business plan to make himself some money. He either doesn’t know it is against the law or he doesn’t care.
You won’t learn about this story anywhere else. I was only able to piece it together after speaking to sources, correction officials in Virginia, exchanging emails with a woman in a foreign country and putting two and two together.
You may remember Malvo was half of a two-man killing squad that terrorized, robbed and killed people in about a dozen states back in 2002. When the pair were at the peak of their killing spree, the media incorrectly dubbed the then 17-year old Malvo and his 41-year-old accomplice, John Muhammad, “The Beltway Snipers” and the “D.C. Snipers.” [click to continue…]
The Commander-in-Chief Losing Respect
The President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief over all branches of the Military. It is a given that no military member goes public to speak negatively about their ultimate Commander.
However, these days, with the Veteran’s Hospital scandal in full bloom, after the administration’s smokescreen about what triggered the deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy at Benghazi and after the president’s tepidly received speech at West Point announcing diplomacy will replace military responses henceforth, the time for silence is over.
Now, career military personnel are speaking out through gritted teeth, insisting they speak for active duty personnel who cannot talk without being punished. They are speaking about injustice, ineptitude and impeachment. [click to continue…]
PACT – A Commitment to Positive Change
Ten minutes on the phone with David Lockett and you realize this is a man of high integrity, compassion and vision. After a lengthy conversation with him I came away believing if there was ever a man we should follow in the fight against crime it is David Lockett.
Lockett’s business background is in the trucking industry. He also developed and has run a program for nearly 20 years which embraces society’s toughest, hard-core juvenile criminals and gives them the tools to turn their lives around. It’s called the PACT LifePlan and Coaching Program and its guiding principle is the idea that if we help young people avoid a lifetime of crime everybody wins. Spend a little time giving a kid some skills and a plan for his or her future and the country gets a law-abiding, contributing taxpayer in return.
In the long run, it’s a lot cheaper than paying for their trip (or trips) through the U.S. justice system. [click to continue…]
Tops on the List : Tolerance
Tops on my Crime and Justice Wish List this year is the sincere hope that America finds a way to become a better functioning and more tolerant country.
I wish for the lethargy of the electorate and the deterioration of trust and respect – in our government and in each other – to magically evaporate.
It is a tall order, I know. We live in an ugly era of perpetual backbiting that serves no real purpose but to distract us from finding solutions to very real problems.
Democrats routinely ridicule Republicans and vice versa. Various ethnic groups point to those who are different and declare their problems are the other groups fault; both heterosexuals and homosexuals complain their lifestyle is under attack; the unemployed and under-employed label business people and corporations as greedy devils without acknowledging they are the very entities providing the most jobs. Our children grow up hearing our viciousness toward one another and are likely to continue the corrosive tradition of intolerance. [click to continue…]
Mr. and Mrs. Gavin Arvizo
I went to a wedding this past week-end and while you may not immediately recognize the name of the groom I’ll bet you know of him.
Despite a lifetime of obstacles, Gavin Arvizo — once at the center of a sensational child sex abuse scandal — has worked his way through to a triumphant life. At 13, Gavin accused Michael Jackson of molesting him and the superstar was arrested.
It seemed life was stacked against this kid from the very beginning.
As a youngster he lived in a one room apartment in East Los Angeles with two siblings and his parents. Poverty and domestic abuse was a way of life. [click to continue…]
MSgt Foster on Left, Sgt Ralph Stanton on Right
For this Band of Brothers the Vietnam War never ended. Forty years after the fighting stopped they continue their struggle to be recognized as part of the unenviable group poisoned by the deadly herbicide Agent Orange.
These men who dedicated years to the U.S. military were stationed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. In the mid-60’s it was an important stop-over on the way to warzones in Southeast Asia. B-52 bombing missions targeting the Viet Cong – with names like Operation Arc Light and Operation Linebacker II — were launched from Andersen. Two years after the conflict the base became a way-stop for more than 100-thousand Vietnamese refugees seeking a new life in America.
Andersen AFB was a well-oiled machine thanks to the dedicated soldiers stationed there. Two of those men – Master Sargent LeRoy Foster and Sargent Ralph Stanton – found each other late in life and began to compare their multitude of similar health problems. [click to continue…]
Family Courts Are an Overburdened Mess
We, in America, like to say that what happens behind closed doors is nobody else’s business. But what if what happens between consenting adults results in the rest of us having to pay out billions of dollars when things go wrong?
It is happening year after year. Taxpayers are footing the bill for countless ugly divorces, separations and couples who have babies out of wedlock.
Experts who keep track of this call it, “Family Fragmentation” and estimate that we, collectively, pay more than $112 billion annually in an oftentimes vain effort to fix the problems of troubled couples.
The Institute for American Values, a conservative group with a mission to “study and strengthen civil society,” added up the public’s cost of supporting divorcing and unmarried households. Using figures from 2008, they looked at the justice system’s cost of dissolving a typical marriage, the average amount of a custodial parent’s reliance on government programs like food stamps, Medicaid, Head Start, housing assistance and cash payments. Over the course of the previous decade, the Institute concluded, taxpayers shelled out more than $1 trillion. [click to continue…]