My investigative research has uncovered a major flaw in America’s court system. It has to do with how overburdened and underfunded courts deal with family disputes over what to do with an elderly Mom or Dad. A growing number of families, nationwide, have learned that once a family member turns to the courts for help their parent could be placed under an odious elder guardianship situation managed by total stranger. Families caught up in this system say it turned their aging parent’s final years into a nightmare. These are my findings about the system in one state.
(This is a five-part Albuquerque Journal series that printed from Nov. 26 - Dec. 1, 2016. Please read the sidebar stories found to the left of the main article under the legend: MORE INFO.)
Check out the cool trailer for my latest book. Just click in the box above.
Thinking Outside The Crime and Justice Box is a compilation of some of my favorite and most thought provoking columns – with updates and new text. The book discusses today’s headline crime cases as well as crime and justice issues readers may not realize even existed. Compelling human stories at the core of crime are often the centerpiece of my columns and reading about stranger’s struggles can help readers better understand the dynamics surrounding crime, law enforcement and justice. Look, there is good and evil in the world and I figure it is my job to point it out.
Welcome to my home base where you’ll find my weekly Creators Syndicate crime and justice newspaper columns re-posted. The paper of my childhood — The Albuquerque Journal — continues to be my column’s showcase spot for as long as they’ll have me.
My writings here are always different. Sometimes I’ll simply tell you a story. Sometimes I’ll share my opinions, praise or criticism. Other times I’ll hold a mirror up to our society and invite you to form your own opinion. I hope the columns will give you something new to think about each time you visit. It’s a complicated world out there, full of situations of good versus evil, right versus wrong. My job is point them out. - Diane
Sherry Johnson gave birth when she was 10 years old. When she turned 11, her parents, members of a conservative Pentecostal church, decided she should marry the 20-year-old man who had raped her. Their reasoning? Marriage would deflect a criminal case and help protect the reputation of the church. Amazingly, a clerk in Pinellas County, Florida, issued a marriage license (which noted Sherry’s birthdate), and the deed was done.
Summertime is upon us, the season when out-of-school kids are frequently left alone in the house. Here’s a question for all parents and grandparents out there: Do you have guns in your home?
According to a new report from the Children’s National Hospital, 20,000 American children — yes, 20,000 — will be rushed to the emergency room this year with a gunshot wound.
As you read this the President of the United States might very well have said or tweeted out more intemperate things. It is pretty clear that Donald J. Trump plays fast and loose with the English language and diplomatic speak is not in his wheelhouse. He shoots from the lip and worries about cleaning up the mess his statements create later – if at all.
That said, a U.S. president cannot be impeached for simply saying imprudent things.
He raped an 8-year-old girl in 1984 and served four years in prison. He has now pleaded guilty to the 2016 rape of a 12-year-old girl. But for some reason the prosecutor agreed to plea bargain with William Dixon this time around agreeing he would go back to prison for only three years. Unconscionable in my book.
But this is the way justice is often meted out these days. Hammer out a plea with the perp’s lawyer and spare taxpayers the cost of a trial – even if the punishment doesn’t match the crime.
This nation has faced some tough law enforcement dilemmas in recent years. An increase in murders and drug and gang violence in several major cities, a breakdown in citizen’s respect for authority, police overreaction to situations – ignited either by a macho officer or by one who, honestly, fears for their safety – and, of course, the growing number of police involved shootings which have left civilians, many of them unarmed, dead.
We should all have a profound respect for our jury system. In a justice system that is obviously not perfect, average citizens put their lives on hold to serve as jurors so defendants get a fair shot at impartiality. Jurors act as a counter balance to attorney’s legal maneuverings as they apply their common sense to the proceedings.
But in a world where defense attorneys use every trick in the book and bend the meaning of “reasonable doubt” beyond all comprehension jurors can sometimes be led off the path to justice. I have sat in many courtrooms and watched this process first hand.
I was raised in the great American Southwest by parents who stressed personal responsibility, integrity, compassion for others and the ability to tell a good story. Growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico I absorbed the moral and ethical values I would carry with me throughout life and use daily as a journalist.
After a humble beginning in Albuquerque radio (covering the cops and courts beat) I moved east. First, radio in Washington, DC where politics was the name of the game and then to New York where I got my first taste of television. It was to be a long draw at the TV trough, from New York to Hollywood and back again. And always my most fulfilling work was done in the crime and justice genre. My long running syndicated column allows me to deep dive into the human stories behind the headlines on a weekly basis. Writing books about crime and how society reacts to it still fascinates me.
Sherry Johnson gave birth when she was 10 years old. When she turned 11, her ...
Summertime is upon us, the season when out-of-school kids are frequently left alone in the ...
As you read this the President of the United States might very well have said ...
He raped an 8-year-old girl in 1984 and served four years in prison. He has ...
This nation has faced some tough law enforcement dilemmas in recent years. An increase in ...