Mixed Emotions: Statute of Limitations

  1. An associate of mine was the victim of a crime. This associate expressed what the trauma of that event did to derail the level of emotional wellness. I can relate, as I was a victim of a similar crime many years ago. The biggest emotional hit came when this associate found out that the perpetrator of the crime was caught after the statute of limitations had passed, which means there was no criminal indictment available. A statute of limitations indicates the amount of time in which criminal charges must be filed against a suspect or if charges are filed, they could be subject to a defense claim that the limit has lapsed. Since that time had passed for the crime, the case was consequently closed.

When I was victimized, I didn’t report it. But, if I had, I would be depleted if the person they determined to have committed the attack on me couldn’t be touched because of a statute of limitations.

I have mixed emotions about it, and I understand both sides of it. On the one hand, as a victim, its empowering and liberating to see the person who committed the crime against you face their penalty. But on the other hand, a statute of limitations has a legitimate purpose.

Criminal laws are designed to protect the innocent as much as they protect suspects of crimes. Statute of Limitations were created to further this objective. The statute of limitations has a long history in criminal law. Such statutes exist for several reasons: (1) to help ensure that when people go to court as a defendant they receive a fair trial; (2) to make sure witnesses’ memories are fresh (the closer it is to an event, the more reliable one’s recollection tends to be); (3); to pressure the government to investigate cases and file charges in a timely manner, in accordance with the Sixth Amendment; and (4) so that accused citizens need not live their life in fear of the oftentimes overzealous government pursing them after a long and avoidable delay.

Nonetheless, a victim doesn’t want to hear that. It’s a further violation to learn that the government can’t touch the perpetrator. I advised my associate to seek the advice of an attorney, because even if the matter won’t make it to criminal court, a victim might still be able to sue for civil damages, to include actual damages (i.e., costs associated with the lost of property; any lost income resulting from the victimization; medical expenses for sustained injuries; etc.) as well as for punitive damages.

Civil court gets financial justice for the victim. Most likely, the perpetrator of a street crime has limited finances and may not be able to pay the judgment. That tends to be the case in many instances. But securing a civil judgment against someone can be sweet justice. It can give victims big leverage to get some measure of justice, even if a few years go by until the perpetrator acquires assets. This could ultimately be a form of restitution for the victim and allow for wage or bank account garnishments as well as placing a lien on the perpetrator’s home. There are also time limits involved in civil proceedings too (sometimes called a prescriptive period), so seeking the advice of an attorney is wise.

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When I Was White

In spite of how great your life turns out, it must be emotionally painful to learn that your identity isn’t at all what you thought it was. That’s the story of Sarah Valentine, chronicled in her memoir, When I Was White. She was raised as a Caucasian, but she eventually found out she was mixed (a black father and a white mother).  She noticed her skin complexion was a darker hue than her fellow classmates, siblings, and neighbors, and that was her first clue that her background could be different than what she believed it to be. She additionally questioned her identity when the other kids would tease her and call her Slash, referring to the Guns N’ Roses guitarist Saul Hudson who is of a mixed race.

Some of the things each of us endures pale in comparison to what others face. It’s one thing to choose to live as a white person when you know that you’re not; but it is entirely another when you have no idea of your background. Valentine grew up in a middle-class community – mostly white – in the nearby suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her mom was an Irish and Italian who was married to a white man; Valentine lived life as a white teen, hanging out with her white friends. She explains, “I didn’t know much about race, but I knew it existed; I thought some people were black, but most people were normal.”  She was raised to believe that people who weren’t white were not normal, and her family called them “other” suggesting they are not on the same level. Valentine didn’t know her background until at the age of 27, she pushed her mother for details. It was then she discovered her biological father was an unknown African American man who raped her mother in college.

Sarah Valentine, author of “When I Was White. (Marcello Rostagni photo)

Finding out that her background wasn’t what she thought it was and that she was the product of a rape was distressing. Additionally, her mother and the man who she thought was her father freely espoused racist views, and dissecting herself from those sentiments was very difficult as she grew up and began to question her false and embrace her true identities.

This book touches on a variety of issues surrounding race and identity. It helps raises awareness of these issues for persons of all backgrounds. It’s quite a fascinating read.

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It Still Takes a Village to Raise Up Children

If there are any children in your life, whether it be your own kids, nieces and nephews, cousins, or just kids who look up to you, talk to them about the consequences of their actions. It really does take a village to raise up a child. Kids tend to roll their eyes when you try and counsel them and give them advice. Many of them think they know everything already. But you can’t counsel them enough. Things don’t just go away because you age and mature, particularly in the digital age. Kids need to hear this message over and over and over again.

This is about the recent arrest of Jerry Harris; he was charged with production of child pornography. The incidents surrounding this case are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager. But being a child doesn’t shield you from culpability. Things never go away, so it’s important to be mindful of your behaviors. They will bite you in the butt, especially if you become famous and notable. Kids need to understand this more than they do.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

From time to time people ask me what musical remakes do I think are better than the original. Most of the remakes are not even close to the level of greatness as the original, even if the remakes present a level of greatness in their own way. Yesterday, I heard the Otis Redding version of the song Respect for the first time — he recorded it first — though most people only know about Aretha Franklin’s version; she recorded it two years after Otis recorded it.

Aretha’s version, in my opinion, is far greater than the original. Have you ever heard Otis sing it? I love his voice and I love the song. But, he can’t touch Aretha’s artistry, from my vantage point. What do you think?

 

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A New Job and Your Elevator Pitch

So, how’s your elevator pitch? I call it my elevator story, and it’s also known as an elevator speech, but it’s just a different name for the same thing. UC-Davis calls it your commercial about yourself and your competencies and recommends it takes you about 30 seconds to deliver and is a maximum of 90 words. It’s essentially a short snippet that should take you no longer to tell someone than it takes to ride an elevator up or down. You need a very short one, in case the person with you is only going one floor or is in a big hurry, and one that’s a little longer that gives more details about your strengths and background.  Either way, you need to always be prepared. The humorous clip up above shows several ill-prepared people and one at the end with a story that was more pointed and sharp.

This is important for people who may be actively seeking new opportunities or for those who may not necessarily be looking but who are open to opportunities that may fall into that laps. I fall into the latter group. I created my elevator pitch a couple of years ago, and I’ve practiced the delivery of it. But I still fumble each time someone asks me that “What do you do?” question. Here my elevator story:

“I’m a Department of Justice employee who manages the publishing, digital communications, and nearly all aspects of disseminating threat reports to external customers. That includes reviewing those reports to ensure they are grammatically correct, objective, and properly sourced as applicable. I also generate metrics of everything the agency produced, disseminated, and the destination of those disseminated reports.”

That’s it. It takes me about 25 seconds to deliver and is comprised of 57 words. This meets the standard. It seems simple, but I get flustered — caught off guard — when someone asks me about my work. Can you say blunder? It all boils down to practice. The more you practice it, the better it gets. I’ve been practicing, and I’m almost an expert at my delivery. Now, the next time someone asks me, I’ll be prepared. Practice yours so you’ll be prepared too.

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Walking With Lions

I have been reading about authentic safaris, an opportunity to commune with wildlife in various venues including Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Serengeti, Mozambique, and other places throughout Africa. I’ve blogged on this topic previously. There are plenty of driving tours, allowing tourists to drive their own vehicles through a safari park or ride along in the vehicle of a tour guide. I’d only do it from the safety of a hot air balloon, which is a popular attraction.

Through my research, I learned of a walking tour that tourists can take. These put you up close and personal with lions, elephants, hippos, zebras, wildebeests, and other dangerous wildlife. This puts a whole new spin on the TV show, Tiger King.

Walking tours are the most dangerous type of safari a tourist can take. Most wildlife there, as conservationists suggest, feel threatened by hunters and poachers, which is why the animals may be quick to attack humans. Wild animals are unpredictable. Even a domestic animal can give you surprises. So, the wild ones certainly can surprise you. But nonetheless, thousands of people visit these African animal parks annually with much exuberance. Look at the people in the clip below walking among the animals like they’re pigeons or other innocuous animals. It doesn’t seem like it would be a smart way to spend your time. But, to each his own. It’s just not for me.

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My Own Words: RBG’s Autobiography

 

Last night, a real judicial icon lost her life due to complications of pancreatic cancer: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). Approximately three weeks ago, I began reading her autobiography, My Own Words. It shed a bright light on her life and her passion for jurisprudence and equality for all, especially the rights of women.

RBG was such a fascinating woman and jurist. Early in her career, she worked for the ACLU as an equal rights attorney, which led to her arguing a landmark case before the Supreme Court, Reed vs. Reed in the 1970s; this case challenged the preference of men over women as administrators in estates.  It was the first time the SCOTUS held that gender bias was unconstitutional, in violation of the equal protection clause. It was an all-male court, and yet she successfully argued in support of overturning a lower court’s decision showing preference to men. That’s truly profound. I think it was profound because it was a  unanimous court ruling.

Official US Supreme Court Photo, retrieved fromhttps://www.supremecourt.gov/

It was her first of several appearances arguing a case before the SCOTUS, which must have been intimidating. “I knew that I was speaking to men who didn’t think there was any such thing as gender-based discrimination, and my job was to tell them it really exists,” she said. I’m sure she really shined in that room. I would love to have been a fly on the wall that day.

After leaving the ACLU, RBG was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Carter. She was appointed to the SCOTUS in 1993 by President Clinton.  She led a long life for fairness and equality. In 2009, Forbes named her one of the 100 most powerful women, and Glamour presented her with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

All of this and more are highlighted My Own Words. The book presents all of the key accomplishments and her judicial trek during and prior to her tenure on the Supreme Court. If you ever admired her, I encourage you to read it. You’ll be glad you did.

 

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Sol! and His Lovely Day

Lately, I’ve been in a Bill Withers state of mind. I asked Siri to play Lovely Day, thinking of the Bill Withers rendition but instead Siri pulled up the version from Sol! in my music library. I had forgotten Sol! recorded it too. Check out the song up there. I bet you’ll like it.

Sol! performing live (© photo by Michael-Christopher)

I had the pleasure of seeing Sol! live in concert in Washington, DC back in 2017 at the Upfront album release party at The Pitch Tavern, a popular venue for locals.

Troy Edler, known professionally as Sol!, is a very talented native Washingtonian artist who is part soul, part R&B, and just the thing to get you in the right mood. He has worked with various artists, including Gerald Albright, Lalah Hathaway, Mint Condition, and Syleena Johnson, just to name a few.

His music is the life of any party.  I can hardly wait to see Sol! live, in-person again. I think his style is uniquely suited to please anyone’s musical palette. Most of you all know how I love to support local artists, playwrights, dancers, actors, and other creative types.  Sol! is no different. In addition to being talented, he’s also a nice and humble guy too. That makes me more than glad to support his work.

Sol! performing live at Cafe Asia

Look him up on your favorite music streaming services and on social media to keep abreast of what he’s doing. When you do, tell him I sent you. I’m a big fan of his album, Upfront, and I’m sure you’ll like it too. Kudos to Sol! on a job well done.

My favorite song from that album is, That’s The Way That I Feel You. How do you like it?

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La Cage Aux Follies

If you have been following me for any amount of time, you may recall that I’m a big fan of Broadway musicals. I happened upon a clip from an old musical I recall seeing. I saw many shows, beginning as a young teen. Mom introduced me to this art form at a young age. La Cage Aux Follies was the first musical I saw as an adult, featuring Peter Marshall as one of the lead characters.

This show premiered in 1983 and was ahead of its time. It tells the story of a gay couple who are drag performers in a night club and the drama that follows when one of them brings his super-conservative and anti-gay parents into the mix. The plot is still very relevant today. It’s a very funny and colorful musical. I love it for the costumes too. It was revived a few times. I wish it would be revived again. I’d love to see it again.

Prior to its Broadway debut in 1983, the story was told via several movies, the first one being produced in 1978. I may be watching it this weekend. The first one is on Prime Video, in case you’re interested.

Here’s a clip from the Broadway show, with the crew performing the Act One finale, I Am What I Am

 

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Laughter is the Best Medicine

When I was a kid, one of my favorite pastimes was reading the Reader’s Digest, and I focused on the columns dealing with humor, like Laughter is the Best Medicine. It was such a popular column that they eventually extracted it and published a series of Laughter is the Best Medicine books. It was a nice anecdotal journaling of funny things that happened to the writers of the column, submitted by everyday people like you and me. They say life is so much better when you can laugh at yourself. I believe that wholly.

It makes me think of my own funny story from yesterday. By way of background, I get all of my groceries delivered. I’ve only grocery-shopped in person once since March. Yesterday, I went online and placed an order for a few items. When I was taking out the trash, I saw a guy walking up the sidewalk carrying some grocery bags, and I thought it was my delivery. I blurted out, “You’re early.” Then I immediately realized it was my neighbor carrying his own groceries. I felt so embarrassed. I was about to explain myself to him, but then he beat me to the punch with a little chuckle and said, “It’s okay. I’ve made the same mistake too.”

I love it when people don’t make you feel stupid after you’ve made a fool of yourself. He was a good sport about it.

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