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JHSEsq of Colloquium participates in Four for Friday

Each Friday, four questions are posted and each participant drafts his/her response. Mikal asks thought-provoking and timely questions.

Q1 – Underwear: Pull up your pants or else! That’s the sentiment behind efforts in cities across the U.S. to ban droopy trousers that reveal men’s boxer shorts, and baggy sweats that reveal a women’s thong. In just the last seven days alone, city councils in Shreveport and Alexandria, Louisiana, and Atlanta, Georgia, have taken up measures in favor of banning fanny-flaunting pants. Do you think it’s okay for cities and towns to legislate apparel?

A1: I tend toward civil libertarianism, meaning that I think people should be allowed to live their lives in peace without unnecessary or superfluous interference from any legislative or administrative body. So no, I don’t think cities and towns should be legislating apparel choices. Don’t they have more important things to worry about, anyway?

I see young men wearing jeans that hang so far down on their hips, I can’t figure out how they walk. The inseam is sometimes almost to their knees and their patterned boxer shorts are exposed. I just laugh because they look utterly ridiculous. Probably about as sensible as I looked in bell bottoms and platform shoes in the ’70’s. Or with my frosted hair and shoulder pads in the ’80’s. The only people I see making these ridiculous fashion choices are in their late teens or early 20’s and I just chalk it up to youth. They will grow up and grow out of this fad, I’m sure.

As for thongs . . . I’ve seen women who are significantly older than 25 exposing them under tight, ill-fitting jeans. I wonder if they live alone because whomever resides in their home with them should not let them out in public dressed that way! But again, it is their choice. Hopefully, they will either “wise up” on their own or someone will show them some compassion and tell them kindly, but firmly, how stupid they look.

Q2 – Compensation: Richard Jewell–the contract security guard who was falsely accused of planting a bomb at the 1996 Summer Olympics, and who, despite never being charged with any crime, underwent what was considered by many to be a “trial by media” that took a great toll on his personal and professional life–died earlier this week of what appear to be natural causes. Nearly 10 years after his ordeal, in April of 2005, Jewell was completely exonerated when Eric Rudolph pleaded guilty to carrying out the bombing attack at Centennial Olympic Park, as well as three other attacks across the southeast portion of the United States. Considering Jewell’s situation, do you feel people who have falsely been accused of major crimes should be entitled to compensatory reparations, or is having to deal with such situations simply the cost we must pay in order to live in a society that affords us with so many freedoms?

A2: I have a two word response: Mike Nifong.

The answer to the question is going to vary, depending upon the circumstances. Police and district attorneys carrying out their duties, in good faith to the best of their ability, make mistakes. It’s called being human. Sometimes innocent people are hurt by their unintended negligence. That’s the price of living within the system we have. It is flawed, although it works most of the time.

However, when there is evidence that a public employee such as a police officer or district attorney deliberately and maliciously pursued an individual knowing that he/she was not guilty, either because the public servant was trying to advance his/her own career or simply because there were no other leads and he/she felt pressure to solve the case, that public servant must bear the consequences of his/her own actions. And so must his/her employer. Again, the system has checks and balances built into it and, particularly for lawyers, there is a strict code of ethical conduct under which all practitioners must proceed. When an attorney misleads a court, perjures him/herself or commits other acts of “moral turpitude,” he/she will be held accountable.

And if he/she harmed an innocent person like Richard Jewell, that individual deserves to be compensated.

The sad reality is that nobody could put Richard Jewell’s life back to the state in which it existed before he was wrongly accused. In law, we say that we can’t “unring the bell” and in private practice, I routinely warned my clients that the only thing I could get for them was a “legal spanking” of the defendant, i.e., remuneration, along with public retractions and approximate restoration of the status quo. But by then, it is frequently too late because their lives are irretrievably shattered.

Q3 – Make Room: What particular item of food, regardless of how stuffed you may be, can you always find room for?

A3: A little fresh fruit. Following a big meal, I can always still enjoy a strawberry, a couple slices of honeydew melon, cantaloupe or a peach, or maybe a few grapes.

Q4 – I Insist: Growing up, I had a neighbor who was rumored to wear a brand new dress shirt each and every time he went to work. Never would he wear the same dress shirt twice. What is one thing that you are absolutely particular about?

A4: Driving techniques. This is an ongoing marital battle. I absolutely hate the way BigBob drives. So if we are going somewhere together, he rarely drives, especially if we are likely to encounter any traffic.

He tailgates but insists that he doesn’t. He also gets too close to the vehicle in front of him before hitting the brakes, whereas I have a tendency to back off the accelerator as I approach the car in front of me.

Several times, we have had arguments en route to or from the Bay Area and when we go to Los Angeles, it is understood that if he takes a turn driving, when we get to Castaic — no later — we are stopping and I am taking over.

I think it is partly because he was born and raised in Stockton, and lived there his entire life until he moved to Lodi with me. He has never lived in a highly congested city or had to commute daily in traffic. I lived in the LosAngeles/Orange County area for several years and learned how to survive. Heck, Sacramento has significant traffic, plus I travel a lot for business so I have learned how to drive defensively over the years.

More importantly, I have an admitted hypersensitivity to the issue of tailgating whether the driver of the vehicle in which I am riding is doing it or being subjected to it by someone following. Since I have had one fully detached retina and my remaining functional eye has been lasered numerous times for lattice degeneration and retinal tears, I must avoid any activity that subjects me to being bumped, jarred, jolted or jostled. So one good rear-ender could literally cause me to either go blind or lose the remaining useful vision I have.

For that reason, you will never find me tailgating anyone anywhere at any time and if someone tailgates me (a frequent problem on Interstate 5), I simply move over to the slow lane and let them go around before getting back into the fast lane and resuming my usual and customary speed (which I am not revealing here). 😉


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