It has been quite a while since I have written. My heart has not been silent. I confess, however, that it has been disappointed one time too many. Though I searched for words and inspiring messages, there were none to be found. I was empty after the injustice we experienced from 11th District last year. That disappointment was bad enough. The follow-up was the decline of the Supreme Court to hear the case. Perhaps worst of all was the knowledge that the same appellate court overturned another appellee's sentence in which he cited the case we presented to the court.
I will not lie. It is not easy to read in black and white the injustice, to experience disappointment, and disillusionment in our judicial system. It is difficult. Remaining hopeful, not losing faith that justice will prevail - it is excruciatingly painful ... and confusing.
It is now a nearly decade-long assault on our family. There have been mountains of gratitude and valleys of anger and despair. Despite the soul-numbing disappointments, the blessings were apparent throughout the challenges. To preserve the faith that has brought me this far, I needed to immerse my soul in the word until I allowed the Holy Spirit to revive me.
I refused to allow this far-too-long and unnecessary journey to rob me of my faith and can only pray that Larry never loses the faith he is embracing. But I desperately needed God's guidance and strength.
Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21 is the lesson God is teaching me (among others) at this time.
All our plans, my legal research, and the legitimate arguments submitted in our appeals may indeed be sensible human plans. Our "plan" for Larry's sentence to be lawfully corrected quickly may not be the plan that will achieve the Lord's purpose.
And it is His purpose that prevails.
God may or may not choose to reveal His purpose, His manor in achieving it, or how long it will take. He does promise that His plans are always for our good and that we can trust Him.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
For now, I believe He wants me to write for Him again. He has reignited my desire to do so and trust He will use the words He gives me for His purpose and glory.
So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” Galatians 3:11 (NLT)
As I look out my office window at the beautiful sunny Fourth of July, I sit here an "independent." Big deal. I was sentenced to this independence on May 19th for the next - too many years to consider without bursting into tears.
As a woman who loves America and the freedom and liberty, and "the best justice system in the world" (supposedly), I feel there is little for me to celebrate. The prosecutors and court called me a liar and insinuated that I am not intelligent enough to determine what actually happened to me. I know exactly what happened. I know it was not intentional. I know it still required punishment and I know it was not only over prosecuted, but it was also clearly two punishments for the same crime.
Because of a manipulative detective, a self-righteous and arrogant county prosecutor, and an accommodating court - all corrupt and power hungry, I am not free to live my life the way I choose. I, the "victim" for which everyone "seeks justice," am the one who suffers the punishment of loneliness and a future destroyed.
Terms like "to protect the public" and "demean the seriousness," were used to justify two identical sentences for the same crime. Two months have passed, and there is still no reconciling the sentence handed down. I've read the judicial statutes. I've read the appellate cases that reveal what I already know to be true. I've read the Constitution, and each one leaves no question that the sentence was not lawful. It was political and may have been applauded by agenda driven man-haters. But it certainly was not lawful.
I have little faith that the higher courts will rule against one of their own. I have little faith because it is like a super exclusive club. One in which they play each other and worst of all they play the defendants. It's just one big judicial game and as the saying goes - the house always wins.
When someone violates the law, they must pay for the crime. There are statutes, laws written by the state that the court must follow. When they don't, they become criminals when they persecute the innocent or over-prosecute the guilty. I keep hearing about the overpopulated prison system. "We need judicial reform," is the mantra. The state needs to look at the over-indictments by local prosecutors, the coercion to accept plea "deals" (or suffer the consequences), and the unlawful sentences handed down that multiplies the burden on the state.
...in addition to multiplying the everyday burdens by forcing me to face them alone.
There are honorable public servants, and this is not directed at them. They know who they are, how they lied, and they believe they will get away with it. Unfortunately, they cast doubt on the entire system.
As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous — not even one. Romans 3:10 (NLT)
I thank God for my freedom is in Christ because it certainly cannot be found here.
But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:22 (NLT)
I'm still incredulous at what happened. One week ago she declared, with a surprising degree of animosity, "You coulda killed her! - Almost did... inches...seconds. Only by the grace of God is she here." Her exercise in authoritarian admonishment was strictly for show. It could never make him any more sorry for what he did than he already is.
In fact, it was only by the grace of God that did I refrain from standing and telling her what I really think of her remarks.
I still get angry at the realization that they have usurped my experience - my tragedy, to satisfy a personal or political agenda. Rather than listening to the "victim" and making an evaluation based on actual evidence, the judge relied upon the more "creative" version of the story.
At this time last week, I was doing the re-writes on my impact statement. Surely, the judge would see that my words are my own, not coerced, controlled or influenced in any way except by my desire for the truth to be heard, known, and believed.
I remember my anxiety and blood pressure rising at the thought of giving my statement. Confirming the turtleneck shirt is a definite necessity today. I received a text, asking how I was doing. Sharing that I was having trouble deciding what to include and omit, she advised, "Ask the Holy Spirit to help you." I had been doing that for the past month but still found myself struggling even at this late hour. Even so, her words and the knowledge of all the prayers on our behalf brought me encouragement and comfort.
I listened to the prosecution dramatically tell his version of my story; anger replaced my anxiety and apprehension. "Oh no, you don't get to do that!" I thought to myself. The concerns about the re-writes and my speech-giving abilities evaporated. God used my anger as a motivator for me. - Oh boy, did God motivate me after listening to the prosecutor's tale of fiction!
No longer did I feel anxious. Instead, I felt challenged. - Challenged to expose the lies. I felt challenged to renounce their assumptions and make it known that I am not some mindless follower deceived by my own wishful thinking. One must wonder. How is it possible for me to successfully make my case to everyone else who chooses to truly listen and who wants to know the truth, - but not to the ones who have gone all in on their agenda?
Justice may be elusive for the time being. The illogical judgment may bring a sense of victory in the office that continues to pursue their own agenda. It will not go unchallenged. The shady practices will not be kept hidden. The state and the judge who imposed the sentence disregarded the statute stating the overriding purposes of felony sentencing. Sanctions are to be imposed using the minimum sentence to achieve the goal of punishment and/or rehabilitation with the least burden to the state. To do so would bring into question all the tactics and legal maneuvers that led to the first ridiculous coerced plea agreement.
"Bleeding-heart liberal,"and my name could never be used in the same sentence. Now, however, I question every criminal report and every imposed sentence I hear that gets my attention. How it disappointing to have my naive vision of a fair and impartial justice system crushed.
The appeals process will begin. Hopefully, the appellate courts will view the tactics of the judicial system in my county as egregious as I and those who are experiencing it with me have. I pray my faith in this system can be restored. Perhaps, that is why we must endure this injustice and separation longer than the law requires.
Tomorrow, I will list all the laws that were abused by those who are supposed to uphold it - from the beginning - or at least all the ones I can remember. The list is a long one.
What a shame that we can't find today, more of the integrity and unconventional as that of Solomon.
1 Kings 3:16-28
Another day down. I've now left work early for the second day. Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on one's perspective), work has slowed down a bit, and I'm able to leave without creating a hardship for those with whom I work. I can't say with any degree of certainty when it is that I will be 'me' again. I don't know if that will happen any time soon.
The memories of May 19th consume my thoughts. They invade every hour of every day. The normal things that fill our lives: family, friends, responsibilities, they are now random distractions from the thoughts that fill my mind.
They are angry thoughts - very angry thoughts.
Ephesians 4:26-27 When you are angry, don’t let it carry you into sin. Don’t let the sun set with anger in your heart or 27 give the devil room to work.
I would like to tell the world that I have lived up to Jesus' example. - I cannot. Sure, I may not have acted against someone sinfully. I am guilty of a multitude of ungodly thoughts and attitudes. Destroying my Christian witness is and remains my greatest fear. The degree of my anger, may not be evident. My actions may not bring shame upon Christ's name. But God knows what's in my heart. 1 John 3:19-20
Betrayal, it is an offense one must make the effort to get over. You may think, "Your husband shot you. That is a bit more than betrayal." I am well aware of what he did. I have not suppressed the memory. And contrary to the state's declaration, I have not "minimized" what happened seven years ago. I remember it as it actually happened. It was serious not slippery. It was bizarre not betrayal.
I needed time to heal both physically and emotionally. God in His infinite mercy healed my body in just a couple months. He restored my strength within a year. Emotional healing was instantaneous the moment I surrendered and accepted what I already knew to be true. My husband did, in fact, love and care about Austin and me. This truth became apparent when I ceased choking down the Kool-Aide that the authorities were serving me. I never drink the stuff again, neither metaphorical or otherwise.
Larry was broken, but he did not betray me. He is not a heartless murderer with no remorse and no concern for his family. Larry was spiritually broken and in grave danger of spiritual death. - As we all are, apart from Christ Jesus. He was deceived, and he was in bondage. He was blind to it, but I was not. I prayed for victory over the threat. I prayed for victory against an enemy hoping to destroy him and to destroy my faith that God had not forsaken us.
The fight has not been easy. The spiritual battle was won on May 4th. It was a fierce spiritual showdown in this physical world. It was not 'Larry' who wanted to end my life that day. It was the enemy who wanted me out of the way. His actions were not done knowingly nor purposefully. It was an unreasonable action from a meticulously reasoned person. I said then. I said it in court, and I've said it consistently as soon as the pain medications left were out of my system and my brain no longer in a fog.
Deception, like beverages com in many flavors. The flavor they served my family and me was Larry's betrayal. I choked it down because I thought it was my only choice. Peace returned the second I accepted what I knew to be true. I was no longer tormented when I chose to reject the Kool-Aide of deception and drank in what I know to be true. I trusted those serving their version of the truth. I convinced myself I must trust people I had before never met in my life.
I was not betrayed by the people I knew I could trust. I accepted the deceptive concoction from people and institutions I was taught, and believed, that I could trust. I now gag on the memories of the pretense of integrity, the disingenuous concern, and the self-righteous indignation.
Perspective determines the flavor of 'kool-aide' others choose to serve and that which we may choose to consume. I took a sip, but it tasted foul. I didn't consume enough to poison the truth.
Now, I must be cautious of my anger - that I don't allow it to betray me as well as my faith in The Truth.
"Go ahead, get a new attorney. You can get OJ's dream team, and I will sit in the back of the courtroom and laugh when you're sentenced to 40 years." This is just one of the nightmares in the past seven years.
No, that isn't the intimidation of a county prosecutor. Amazingly, that was the 'advice' of defense counsel. No, it was not a court appointed attorney either. It is intimidation experienced by my husband from the attorney he hired to defend him. Granted, it was a poor and reckless choice. One he wouldn't have made had he been in any state of mind to make such a critical decision. A choice he was prohibited from correcting once he realized the grave error he made. This, the first in a long list of abuses we have experienced.
What was his crime? - My husband shot me.
So now you may be thinking, "He gets what he deserves." You do the crime; you do the time. That is the way the law is supposed to work. But as you read the experiences, challenges, and trials we've faced you may just re-think what you believe about American justice.
Never denying the seriousness of the crime, my husband and I are only seeking an appropriate sentence. Now, with a new attorney seven years later, we have learned that truth has very little to do with justice in the local judicial system.
Hindsight really is 20/20. It was naive for me to assume that when I clarified and corrected the errors and misconceptions about what happened on May 4th, 2010 that the prosecution would see how the evidence did not support the theory they conjured up. Surely, the judge would be interested in making sure that the case would not appear in an appellate court yet again.
My husband had the testimony and support of our son, my family and our friends. I presented my impassioned plea for her to be merciful to us. Annoyed and empowered by the lies I had just heard recited as "fact," my anxiety about public speaking disappeared. I made every effort to fill the room with my voice just as the prosecutor had with his deep, loud voice. Without the advantage of daily practice. Our son had told me I needed to get a backbone, stand up there, and set them straight.
"You know that is not me," I protested. "How am I supposed to do that?"
"Well, you just have to do it," he replied. I succeeded. Later, I got a, "You did a good job," from him. Apparently, it was the only value my statement had.
Looking her in the eye, I detailed only a few of the many specific errors of "fact" on record. I assured her that the fictional, based-on-a-true-story case the prosecution presented, was just that - fiction. While listening, the judge offered a disingenuous nod of understanding. Surely, they all understood now. Right?
One would think so. But that is not the case.
Before sentencing, the state preceded to repeat the very same factual inaccuracies (lies?) that I had just refuted in my statement. Then followed up with the insinuation that I was minimizing the crime and blaming everyone else. - This statement from the person I still, with everything in me, hoped was a person of integrity. Wrong.
It is now undeniable. Those in charge of representing the state locally, are not interested in serving the best interest of the state when adjudicating cases. It is an ongoing tally of wins and losses. A game of power, ego, covering your backside, and making the headlines.
Instead of receiving a reasonable, lawful, and appropriate sentence, the judge used what amounts to an algebraic calculation to achieve the already determined number they were seeking. By torturing the truth and performing judicial gymnastics, they managed to get a sentence of 22 years. Creatively sentencing 12 mandatory years from one weapon, while only sentencing ten years for the actual crime. Increasing his sentence from his previously coerced 20-year plea agreement.
Someone found a way to abuse the integrity and intent of the laws of our state. (Yes, that is a biased opinion.)
Before my personal experience and dealings with the judicial system, I could not imagine this happening. I'm finding that it happens far too often.
I have no doubt many public servants serve with integrity, and use wisdom when administering justice. But those who don't cast doubt on the integrity of those who do, and damage the trust of the public.
If you think the appeals process fixes the problems of the lower courts, think again. Come back for the truth about the time restrictions and "technical" issues that slow down or prevent people getting justice in the higher courts as well.
The judicial system has failed me and is failing others like me. Each post will reveal a different instance of our failing system, of violations of law, and violations liberties. If you or a loved one has experienced similar injustice, or if, unlike me, your local local judicial system has served you well, feel free to share your comments.