Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sax Summer Hours!

Even though crime doesn’t stop for the summer, it seems that everyone else does or at least slows down. Congress isn’t in session in July and August; Oprah and other syndicated shows go on “hiatus” for several weeks; and of course, schools that operate on the traditional calendar are off too!  So people, I am adopting Sax Summer Hours!
Yup, you read right! I am kicking off the high heels, tossing the suit to the curb, and going to spend some much needed quality time with my family and friends. (Hi, remember me?) 

That is not to say that you won’t see my smiley mug on TV or read my words on your favorite blogs --  it means I have remembered that summer is the traditional time of year when we rest a little and should be more family/friend oriented. So I am going to tote flipflops and not run around like a chicken with my head cut off. I know you're thinking "yah right" but this is serious! Serious Summer business, that is.

Normally I give you my outspoken viewpoints on cases but today I am sharing a tidbit to take care of you. I realize that relaxing or resting sometimes seems like a huge luxury that we cannot afford, either for financial or personal reasons. But most of the time the only thing keeping us from having a more relaxed and calm mindset is ourselves. You know you can take a few hours on the weekends for beach or pool time ... You know you can head to the movies one summer night (see my Finds below for info on The Grove movies in The Park!) .... You know you can make these things happen ... so do it!

We all need some time. Time to think, reflect, meditate, connect, disconnect, decompress, and simply chill.  I know do it’s easier said than done (trust me!).  But do it anyway.  Use the time for you and your friends and family, take the time to pick up a new hobby (or not), read the book that you always wanted to (the trashy one is fine too!!!). Or enjoy any of these out-of-state Wacky Summer activities from MSNBC:

Summer Redneck GamesJuly 10, Dublin, Ga.?Barnesville (my favorite!)
Potato DaysAugust 27/28, Barnesville, Minn.
Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab ChallengeJuly 10, Virginia Beach, Va.
The Wayne Chicken ShowJuly 9/11, Wayne, Neb.
Roswell UFO Festival July 1/4, Roswell, N.M.
Weird Contest WeekAugust 16/20, Ocean City, N.J.
Wisconsin State Cow Chip ThrowSeptember 3/4, Prairie du Sac, Wis.
Hemingway Days FestivalJuly 20/25, Key West, Fla.
World Championship Cardboard Boat RacesJuly 31, Heber Springs, Ark.
National Tom Sawyer DaysJuly 1/4, Hannibal, Mo. 

Whether you go big for a Summer trip or just go out for a Summer night, DO something to signify it's Summer! Adopt Sax Summer Hours and let's spread the word!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

No fault divorce in NY!

New York is one of my favorite places. It makes me feel alive and connected to the world. I love that it is place that sets the trends, fashions, and finances for the rest of the country. But how is that it JUST now is finally becoming a "no fault" divorce state! For those of you who are not up on the legal implications, here is a brief description: "No fault" divorce basically describes any divorce where the spouse asking for a divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse did something wrong - i.e. "where the dissolution of a marriage does not require a showing of legal wrong-doing by either party".

Laws providing for no fault divorce allow a family court to grant a divorce (in response to a petition by either party). The person bringing the petition doesn't have to show a breach of the marital contract (e.g. infidelity or other kinds of wrongdoing). Laws providing for no fault divorce limit the potential legal defenses of a person who would prefer to remain married. Put simply, it doesn't matter if you cheated, if you lied, or if you are a piece-of-work, it means you are getting divorced and no one cares why or who is to blame.

A fault divorce: required grounds are present and at least one spouse asks that the divorce be granted on the grounds of "fault". Only some states still allow fault divorces. The traditional fault grounds are cruelty (inflicting unnecessary emotional or physical pain) -- this is the most frequently used ground for divorce.  Other grounds are things like adultery, desertion for a specified length of time, confinement in prison for a set number of years, physical inability to engage in sexual intercourse (if it was not disclosed before marriage).

A critical difference between fault and no fault is that one spouse cannot stop a no fault divorce (objecting to the other spouse's request for divorce is itself an irreconcilable difference that would justify the divorce); whereas a spouse can prevent a fault divorce by convincing the court that he or she is not at fault. California was the first no fault divorce State (as of January 1, 1970). By 1977 nine states had adopted no-fault divorce laws. By late 1983, every state but South Dakota and New York had adopted some form of no-fault divorce. South Dakota then adopted no fault divorce in 1985. New York was basically the last hold-out.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) sent out a Press Release last week asserting that this law will give judges permission to ignore "cruel and inhuman treatment" as grounds for divorce. Consequently, they say, moneyed spouse (usually the husband) would have freedom to shelter the marital assets, hire an attorney, and start divorce proceedings before his wife ever suspects what is happening. NOW has asserted that judges routinely ignore domestic violence in NY and that this law would rubber stamp the practice.

Currently 95% of all divorces are settled out of court in NY. So perhaps the support no fault is  supported by the NYS Bar Association and the NYS Women's Bar Association is because their members will gain monetarily from the move, which will drive more cases into the courts? So why choose a fault divorce option when you have a "no fault" option? Some people don't want to wait out the period of separation required by their state's law for a no fault divorce. And, in some states, a spouse who proves the other's fault may receive a greater share of the marital property or more alimony.

But what about this... Without having fault and blame, there may be little need to work hard on the marriage. A person who wants to call it quits can -- quite simply and easily, too. As a matter of fact, it is probably harder to fire someone at work than it is to get divorced. At least in the office, employers create paper trails, look for reasons to dismiss, have conversations and meetings about whether all avenues have been exhausted before firing is a necessity, and even use probationary periods to try to determine how unworkable a person or a situation before simply canning the person.

Are we letting people off the hook to easily? Is NO FAULT the best way? What do you think?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Karr & van der Sloot, again!

Chris Rozvar has taken the words out of my mouth in his recent New York Magazine post. Is it surprising that both Jon Mark Karr and Joran Van Deer Sloot are back in the news? Not really. The surprising part is that they hit the news in the same week; the not surprising part is that they both are still wreaking havoc on victims and society. Besides being two of the biggest narcissists, they both represent dangerous enigmas. We are dealing with two of the most notoriously unsolved/unprosecuted cases of our time — the Jon Benet Ramsey case (Karr) and the Natalee Holloway case (van der Sloot).
Many of you already know who these creatures are, but just in case - here are summaries: Joran van der Sloot is the Dutch teenager who was arrested but never convicted of being involved in the death of Natalee Holloway. He is now suspected of brutally killing Stephany Flores Ramirez in a hotel room in Lima, Peru almost exactly five years later.  John Mark Karr is the man who confessed to the 1996 death of child beauty queen Jon Benet Ramsey but was released for lack of DNA evidence. He is now being sought out for death threats against a former student.

While many people want to write-off these guys as just “nuts," I am much more concerned. Joran van der Sloot has shown that he will likely continue to kill and will continue to confess. Karr, whether you believe is confessions about Jon Benet or not (he still maintains he is responsible), is equally dangerous, if not more so.  Karr is obsessed with little girls. How do I know? He says so in his writings, he had child pornography on his computer, he is known to associate with “pedo” groups, he scared ABC’s Good Morning America producers in 2006. When he was in touring his old neighborhood via limo he suddenly had the limo stop so could approach a school where he used to teach. According to Jeffrey Schneider, senior vice president of ABC News, "his behavior gave us serious pause, and ABC decided not to proceed with the interview." I have much more evidence, but I think you get the point.

Now we are hearing from brave people like my client, Samantha Spiegel, who is willing to come forward on National television to confirm Karr is dangerous. Samantha admits that she thought about recruiting young children for Karr who requested she do so (note: she never actually did it).  While Samantha has been the only person who has come forward as of late, there are others out there who either have been approached by Karr to help facilitate his desires - to live in a Manson-esque type of family with little children all around servicing him.  As law enforcement gets wind of his alleged sex cult recruitment of little girls he changes the name from "The Immaculates" to the “The Protectors.”

John Mark Karr is no dummy.  He stays very close to the line of the law and works hard to have others do the crime so he can stay hidden and elusive.  While many think that the case is now behind us (because he was served with the restraining order), I am sure his name will continue to bubble in the news.  I am most grateful to San Francisco Police Department who worked diligently with my amazing personal team of investigators for finding him and serving him before he slithered off to unknown places once again.

My big question: how is it that these two men were roaming free to continue to prey on women and children? What is the flaw in our justice system that cannot get these men convicted and put away for their initial crimes? In the case of van der Sloot, why wasn’t he prosecuted for extortion right away?  I mean the crime was committed the second the money was exchanged. Perhaps if he was in prison there would not have been a crime against Stephany Flores.  I hope the Peruvian criminal justice system brings swift and unyielding justice to the family of Stephany Flores Ramirez (and perhaps some peace to the Holloway family). And I dearly hope that our State of California does justice in my client's case again John Mark Karr. I hope the news that we hear of him is NOT that he harmed another woman, child, or person.

But the safety of future victims should not rest on my hopes alone. The justice system should and must work. We should demand it does so that the van der Sloots and Karrs of the world don't reappear in the news in another five years - or sooner. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Did Richard Hirsch's Statement do Bruce Beresford Redman Justice?

You have probably heard the expression "a day late and a dollar short." Never has it been so apropos than in the recent Press Release statement issued by Bruce Beresford Redman (via his lawyer Richard Hirsch) this last week.

You know the Bruce Beresford Redman.  He is the Survivor producer who went on vacation to Cancun with his wife who was found strangled to death adjacent from the Moon Palace Resort.

It was only after Mexican officials had made Beresford Redman aware of a signed arrest warrant on Monday, May 31, 2010 that Beresford Redman all of a sudden had a rush of sympathy and expressed condolences to the Burgos family. In the 57 days preceding that, he never said he was sorry or sad. He never offered explanations or contributed financially or otherwise to the investigation for the real perp.  We haven't seen him desperately trying to get home from Mexico to take care of his young children who must be heartbroken after learning of the death of their mother.  As a matter of fact all we have seen is him being evasive - fleeing, not making himself available to law enforcement for questioning when they so desired approximately two weeks ago. We saw a desire to bar his kids from the ONLY memorial that was set up for their mother Monica, and a plan to “fight” extradition to Mexico.

By the way, this is all in addition to other factors that tend to show that he is guilty .... like - um - the 3 different life insurance policies he took out on his wife's life within 3 months (including than accidental "death and dismemberment policy!"; witnesses that will attest to fighting the night before her mysterious death; a weak (if not lame) excuse that she went shopping but whoops didn’t bring a cell phone and left at 8:30AM (who does that in CANCUN while on vacation!?); scratch marks on his neck; inconsistencies in his accounts and the accounts of witnesses; need I go on?

As much I would like to heed Richard Hirsch’s desire to avoid “rushing to judgment”  -how can we not and why shouldn’t we?  Face it people: we live in a judgmental society. We size people and situations up all the time. We draw conclusions over cocktails, in lunchrooms, and in op-ed pieces (like this one).  Granted, those judgments must be cast aside if we are in AMERICAN court where U.S. law is practiced.  But right now, because of Bruce Beresford Redman’s own actions we are not in a court of law, in the United States or otherwise.

So, as long as this case is being looked into at the court of public opinion (where there is no presumption of innocence) I say Bruce (and Richard) it’s time to think of a new strategy because this one ain’t working!

Read Press Release Quote (posted on TMZ)