Monday, December 26, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life!

I must say that this is the first Christmas I've felt alive since the birth of our daughter in 2004. This isn't to say that negative things have not happened this year. GroupO in Illinois declared me ineligible for hire a few months ago because I have a felony conviction in my past. STG, Inc.--a large government contractor--withdrew a six figure offer two days before I was to begin work after I disclosed a felony in my background. And, the federal government had me fired from a job in March (as a practical matter) by disallowing my base access Computer Access Card (CAC) after a six-month investigation told them what I had told them day one. Of course, I've sent out hundreds of resumes with no luck too. And, last of the hopeless news is that one more attorney confirmed that my felony can never be set-aside because Andy Thomas' office policy was to use a law that can never be set-aside, irrespective of his corruption and misconduct. It is just the way that the Arizona Legislature wrote it I'm told.

So, why am I so happy? One might think that it is because Andrew Thomas will be disbarred this coming year. After working for several years to end his political career and starting a movement that eventually led to his Arizona Bar trial, that would be a natural conclusion. But, for once, my emotional state has nothing to do with Andrew Thomas or Maricopa County, Arizona. It has to do with my life. Yes, my life! And a wonderful one it is too.

I have a wife that has loved me through all of these trials. An 11-year-old daughter who believes I am the best thing in her world. And her younger sister--who just turned 7 this month--that agrees with her older sister. I have a church pastor that has known me for only a couple of months and has declared me a "good man". Neighborhood friends of my daughters who look to my wife and I for guidance when their parents don't provide it. A dog that is too old to be alive, but refuses to give up his good life with our family. And, our family has recently had the miracle of two identical feline twins. Pepper and Ginger are a welcome addition to the family. Both were brought home by my wife--a devout cat hater--after she fell in love with them. If those are not great reasons to be me, then I don't know what could be better!

I watched Jimmy Stewart's "It's A Wonderful Life" with new eyes this year. My wife--her name is Becky by the way--has taken her first job since our oldest child's birth. It's a part-time Christmas job, but it has nonetheless had a wonderful impact on her mood. For the first time since 2005, I have entered a perspective where I don't care that my thirty-year career and twenty years of college seems to have been thoroughly trashed. I don't care that I have a tattoo on my resume that says "Untouchable" on it to most employers. And, above all, I don't care that I'll never work for another rich SOB with multiple personality disorders. What I do care about is that I am a person who loves other people. I have worked hard in my life to do acts of kindness that show my love. And I have been granted the wonderful Grace to have ample opportunity to show it every day. I care that my friends and family confirm my attempts at goodness by loving me so openly and affectionately. I care that I have my freedom to raise my children and hug my wife. I care that I am alive and I can play flag football with my little girls and my wife.

Bad things happen to good people every day. A bad thing happened to me when a corrupt politician named Andrew Thomas used me for political gain. But, I've chosen to move on and now my challenge is to get Becky to move on as well. That's my resolution for this New Year--to help Becky stop looking at what she lost and look at what she has right in front of her. I'm a happy man, a lucky man, and I must say--It's A Wonderful Life!

Blessings to all who read this! May your new year be filled with wonder and goodness!


  1. True. It's a matter of choice where you are heading.

  2. I am taking a week in Sedona to beat the heat in the Valley.
    I bought Accidental Felons at the Well Red Coyote, and just finished reading it.
    It reminded me of the time I was called on jury duty for a DUI case in Pinal county.
    What I saw in the selection room and discovered later changed my thinking about DUI charges forever.
    Most Arizonans have no idea what the expressions "Alcohol related", or "alcohol may have been a contributing factor" to motor vehicle accidents really means, and worse, neither do the talking heads on TV news.
    I will send more after I get home to my computer.

  3. I was out of the country when Andrew P. Thomas was elected and took office.
    I returned to Arizona to Pinal County, and in 2007 I was called to jury duty in Florence.
    The Judge told the pool that the case was a DUI, and asked if anyone had objections to serving on a DUI jury.
    I was amazed when about two thirds of the potential jurors raised their hands. The way they spoke, it was clear that they, or a family member had been charged with a DUI.
    When polled one at a time they all pretty much claimed that the Arizona DUI laws and their enforcement were deeply flawed.

    I was excused that day, but I wondered how so many people could be in denial about the laws, so I asked a few lawyers.
    They told me the problem was the laws were draconian, and not enforced consistently, and punished the persons involved in any type of motor vehicle accident if they had been drinking shortly before the accident occurred.

    The prosecutors blamed the drinkers, and went after them with a vengeance, frequently charging them with felony DUI.
    The average cost of defense for Aggravated Felony DUI was $10,000 to $25,000. It could cost up to $150,000, (and an 80% surcharge). This was because the charge was a felony, and carried mandatory fines and jail time.
    What the potential jurors complained of was that the prosecutions took no account of whether or not the drinker was impaired, whether or not the drinker caused the accident, or was in any way responsible for the accident, or if anyone was injured.
    The prosecutor had witnesses to, or admission of, drinking. They had a BAC test result, and they had a police report of a motor vehicle accident. That was all they needed.
    In Arizona, a defendant could plead guilty or fight the case in court. The penalties for losing in court could be decades in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
    The laws were supported by voters (and jurors) because they assumed the harsh penalties would clear the roads of the truly dangerous drunks, but, even though some alcoholic drivers did spend time in prison and lose their licenses, the laws were more often used to charge huge fines to people that were not really a danger to themselves or others.
    The catch phrases “alcohol related” and “alcohol was a contributing factor” are tossed about willy-nilly by police and prosecutors, and are repeated without comprehension or fact-checking by reporters and TV talking heads.

    All “alcohol-related” means is that a driver or pedestrian involved in an accident had been drinking.
    If a drunk staggers into your car while you are stopped at a crosswalk, this constitutes an “alcohol-related” motor vehicle accident.
    If there is an accident and a police officer spots an empty liquor bottle or been can in the vehicle, he can report it as “alcohol-related”, even if it was a passenger that was drinking.
    Thus, a police officer could in good faith, and truthfully under oath, testify that the accident was “caused” by alcohol when in fact it was not. A jury could then convict an innocent person to 30 years in prison.

  4. In the case of “alcohol as a contributing factor”, the driver that to all appearances “caused” the accident had measurable levels of alcohol in his blood. This evidence is provided by a blood test.
    NOTE: Other impairment causing drugs, even cough syrup, can be considered intoxicants.
    In this scenario, the presumption is that without the contributing factor, the accident would not have occurred at all.
    Of course, if the other driver fell asleep, or swerved to avoid hitting an animal, or had poor night vision, or was speeding, or it was raining; what was the true “contributing factor”?
    The drinker is the one that will be prosecuted, because he is easy to blame, he can be an easily convicted, or he can be terrified into pleading guilty. The state collects the most amount of money for the least amount of work, and another menace to public safety is put away.
    It’s what the prosecutor calls an “open and shut case”. There is no real investigation (unless there is a fatality), because the cops and prosecutors have everything they need to pin the blame and the liability.
    So, I learned why so many persons prosecuted on a DUI charge thought the system was flawed. The system is flawed, and most citizens have no understanding of how badly flawed it is.
    If I ever get selected as a juror on a DUI charge, I will do my best to see that the defendant gets at least a crack at “reasonable doubt”.