Friday, February 19, 2010

Why We Love The Olympics

Some 138 million people have watched the first five days of the Vancouver games -- a 22 percent increase on average of viewership at the same stage of the last Winter Olympics in Torino in 2006. Why is this? Perhaps because everybody needs to be uplifted! Times are tough and watching the Olympics reminds us that there are things besides the recession, crime, war, and parking tickets to bring us down. But watching performances from the likes of Nathan Chen lifts us (ok, he's not a challenger yet - but he will be!).

The Olympics also remind us that mere mortals can be truly great! Olympians have to work for years towards one moment of glory ... They have to train tirelessly and be intensely focused. I admire this kind of determination and hard work in a fellow human being (regardless of country tides). But most importantly, we all admire those who have a dream -- those people among us who are passionate and committed enough to follow their own star and dare to envision being the best in the world.

This is a good time for us all to think about the things in our life that deserve more hard work and more attention. whether is is your child, a project a work, or yourself.... The Winter Olympics only come around every four years. Ask yourself: what do you want to achieve in four years from now? Take time to reflect, and then reward yourself by watching some fabulous sports competition

*See Schedule Here*

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When children ask "what's sexual assault?" -- how do you answer?

My response to a discussion on  Parent Hacks:

Protecting children begins with every parent in every home. Two types of safety education work well for parents and children and can easily be added to their family’s safety plans: pre-planned discussions and spontaneous opportunities to teach. The first focuses on a particular issue and reinforces it over a period of time, say over a couple weeks to a month. For example, an appropriate safety lesson for a family with young children (ages five and younger) is to help them memorize key telephone numbers, such as Mom’s cell, the home phone, and grandparents’ or caregivers’ numbers. Without making it obvious that it’s a safety lesson, teaching a child a telephone number can be made into a song or a game and can be easily practiced. There is no magic age to begin safety discussions.

It's always easier to talk about "other people" or strangers but the numbers show that 92% of all sexual exploitation of children is perpetuated by someone whom the victim knows.  That being said, parents need to give kids the vocabulary by having discussions so they know the words to say should they need to disclose.  I have a gizzilion tips on what words/conversations that parents can have.  But the best ones are the ones that naturally flow in regular day life.  For example, while getting a toddler or youngster dressed in for a swim can be a good opportunity to discuss parts of the body that the bathing suit covers and parts that are not covered and why the parts under a bathing suit are "private."

The key to keeping such talks from being scary is for parents to assume that body/personal safety discussions are not scary. Just because we, as adults, have myriad worries, we needn’t convey our fears to our children. However, there are things kids must know before they dive into the world of independent adults. Just start the discussion. It’s never too early to begin to give children information that can help them stay safe. Treat personal safety like any other parenting lesson—find appropriate times, don’t tackle too much at a time, and consider the child’s personal development and understanding. And above all, do not use fear or scare tactics to educate children. This can often backfire. Empowering, not scaring, children is what allows them to handle the situation, while fear tends to make them freeze and may actually disable them if they need to act in an emergency. The only thing that should scare you is not teaching or talking to your children about personal safety.

As trite and overused as the expression seems knowledge truly is power. I am not suggesting that parents need to tell kids about the gruesome details of every case in the news or drill their kids with statistics. But youngsters need to have a solid understanding of how they can defend themselves in age-appropriate ways. For example, children should know whom to approach if lost in a store (another mommy) or what to scream if someone is trying to abduct them (“You are not my dad! Call 911!)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Conrad Murray: Get Ready to See A Fight

I was outside the courtroom for most of the day on Monday to cover the Conrad Murray "event". I’m sure none of you out there need to be told who Conrad Murray is -- Michael Jackson’s doctor who was charged with involuntary manslaughter!  It was so interesting for me to be reporting on the case, instead of being in the courtroom – as I have actually spent time a lot of time that particular court when I was a prosecutor. It was quite a scene that day!  It looked more like the scene of a pop concert than a court hearing.  

So what is going to happen? I wish I had a crystal ball or was able to read tealeaves. Is this going to be another 'trial of the century'?  It could be.  But besides the frenzy that comes along with anything MJ related - this is fascinating case.  I mean a really interesting case on its own.  It brings up issues of celebrity (but where the victim is the celebrity), issues of  how we deal with drugs and drug addiction, and the issue of doctor accountability.

My inside sources have said to me "get ready to see a fight.” In other words: Dr. Murray loves his job and his license is important to him and he is not going to plead to anything that puts his medical practice in jeopardy.   So, if the good doc is going to fight why aren't we seeing 2nd degree murder charges?  Isn't there enough to show malice (remember malice is not defined as intent to kill)?  Since the ethical basis to charge manslaughter exists, why not let a jury decide when they get mandatorily instructed on the lesser crime?

So, I'm curious people.... What do you think?  What about the charges? Does involuntary manslaughter make sense to you? Should Murray as a doctor have known better then to administer that amount of Propofol to Jackson? I know the Jackson family is upset.  But what would you do if you were on the jury?  Email me, blog, or join the Justice Interrupted chat room where Brian Oxman - Jackson family lawyer - will join us live from ITALY as we dissect, squabble, and analyze this case.

As we head into a Valentines Day weekend, remember to be kind to each other, stay safe, and enjoy your family, friends, and loved ones!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cant We All Just Get Along

In the words made famous by a well known Los Angeles defendant, I'd like to ask: "Cant we all just get along" ...!? But it seems to be the case today in rainy Los Angeles on this Friday, February 5 2010, that we cannot just get along.

As I write to you, I have just finished reading the fifth TMZ update to the Conrad Murray debacle surrounding his surrender - originally scheduled for 1:30pm today (now it looks like charges will be filed on Monday). Many people would like to think that the feuding between the DA's office and LAPD in this case is an aberration. But unfortunately, from my experiences as a prosecutor in LA, feuds surrounding the investigation and following of cases are commonplace. The cops don't want to be told by the attorney how to run a case and the attorney feels they somehow know how to do it better.

Frankly, there is a place for all involved -- this is supposed to be a team effort. There are important roles and point to be taken on both sides. The current frenzy only makes LA as a whole look unprofessional, petty and even egotistical. Of course, the news pundits know that this MJ fever makes for great TV, but it does not allow for justice in the long run.

Perhaps everyone should just take a breath and remember Rodney's words: "Can't we all just get along." LA should make a decision to begin this process now - the world is watching, let's deliver.