POSTED ON JANUARY 4, 2012:
Love Letters/Hate Mail
This investigative reporting is appreciated ("Let's Pave Paradise", UTW Dec. 8-14)!
I don't think many Tulsans have been aware of Lafarge's intent to burn hazardous waste and of the deterioration that means for our air quality.
All the public relations gimmicks in the world won't clean up Lafarge's emissions nor make Tulsa's air safer.
Ironic that Lafarge has sponsored an Ozone Alert program -- when Lafarge itself exposes its workers to so much ozone!
I wanted to say what a pleasure it has been to meet Jim Bridenstine and learn more about him. He is truly a very poised and eloquent man ("Conservative vs. Conservative," UTW Dec. 22-28). Well educated. I have more faith in him regarding fiscal matters than I do of John Sullivan because of the Rice/Cornell education. I am really dissatisfied with John Sullivan to the point that I no longer trust him, so learning more about Jim Bridenstine is very important to me. Bridenstine is very clarifying to me. His positions fill the gaps that have been in Sullivan's marketing rhetoric for years now. I wish Bridenstine had run earlier.
You're Asking Us?
Why is the Oklahoma Court system and the legal community willing to allow the local District Attorney, Public Defender and (District) Mental Health Court to deny civil and due process rights to defendants in that Court? What else can you call it when the local Mental Health Court assumes that its Judge "may" dispense with a "right" that the defendant "shall have" according to law, and the Public Pretender neither objects nor informs the defendant of the right? What else can you call it when the DA's proxy lies in Court, stating that the standard of evidence against the defendant need only be a majority or "preponderance", instead of the "clear and convincing evidence" demanded eight times in the Mental Health Code, and neither the Judge nor the Public Pretender object, nor do they inform the defendant? Does it go too far to suspect some kind of public malfeasance, or malign prejudice against people who have been singled out by the Legislature and State Courts for heightened scrutiny and second-class treatment?
The Oklahoma Mental Health Code, Title 43A, states in section 43A-5-411.A, Rights of an individual alleged to require treatment, "An individual alleged to be a person requiring treatment shall have the following rights:". They include in A.6 "The right to present and to cross-examine witnesses. The petitioner and witnesses identified in the petition shall offer testimony under oath at the hearing on the petition. ..." As I understand it, the legal meaning of "shall" is mandatory. This is the way that it must be done to be legal. So when the petitioner and alleged "witnesses" don't show up, and the Judge even cuts off the defendant when the defendant tries to explain what happened, the Judge has violated the defendant's rights under law, denying to that defendant the due process of law.
And when the Public Pretender doesn't even bother to object to this state of affairs, the defendant effectively has no counsel, as mandated in 43A-5-411.A.2. The would be the same Public Pretender who in 43A-5-411.D.1 "shall immediately, upon meeting with the person alleged to be a person requiring treatment, present to such person a statement of the (person's) rights, including all rights afforded to persons alleged to be a person requiring treatment by the Oklahoma and the United States Constitutions." (That didn't happen.) This provision is repeated in 43A-5-401.D.1, which the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has falsely listed on its web site as "REPEALED" since at least 2003.
The only fig leaf the Mental Health Court might point to appears in 43A-5-401.J, -5-415.C.2 and -5-511.D.1, where the law states that "If a jury trial is not demanded, the court may take as evidence and act upon" the evaluations, affidavits and reports presented the mental health examiners. Only in 5-401.J, which the ODMHSAS would have "REPEALED", does it say "without further evidence being presented". In legal terms, one would think that "may" is merely permissive and incapable of dispensing with due process rights for the personal, political or prejudicial convenience of a Judge. The clause does not say that the defendant may not or shall not be allowed to present testimony, evidence and witnesses.
So when a Judge overrides a defendant's protests of innocence and attempts to tell the true story, and allows the mental facility, which will receive the benefit of another warm body to justify its existence, to be the sole source of evidence and evaluation, one is justified in calling this a kangaroo court. And when, after the damage is already done, one must discover for one's self the nature and extent of violations of due process and civil liberties, without any help from the local or state legal community, one may reasonably suspect that legal community of being a nest of bigots.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A45488