Logic Puzzle in Whatever Will Be Will Be

  • March 5, 2024, 8:32 a.m.
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  • Public

(This is going in a very different direction than my previous entries. I do still intend to answer notes or respond; but this is more where my brain is right now as I am preparing for work.)
Last night as I was driving Nala home from the groomer, there was a car that was swerving a little and driving excessively below the speed limit. I tend to think “Operating While Impaired” when I see that (maybe because of the job). Now, remember my windows were rolled down because I have my dog in the car. As I passed the vehicle, however, I was quite sincerely slammed in the face with the overwhelming smell of marijuana. In the lobby at the Courthouse, we sometimes have the overwhelming smell due to how many people hotbox before their drug court hearing. This was somehow stronger! PASSING THE VEHICLE. Though, of course that is stronger as it is the difference between someone actively smoking while driving and people who have been smoking before coming into a room. But… fuck that was heavy. Which of course- DON’T DRIVE HIGH AND DON’T DRIVE WHILE SMOKING POT as general rules of course. ESPECIALLY DON’T DO THAT IN A STATE WHERE POT IS STILL HIGHLY ILLEGAL!

Of course, a response to my “Holy shit! Don’t be so stupid as to drive under this condition!” was “Legalize all drugs!” It should surprise no one that my response to that is No. At which point I am usually called a fascist and I no longer wish to engage in discourse when a person’s response is name calling. But ultimately, truthfully- “legalize all drugs” is far too generic, generalized, and over broad.

My well-known hatred for Methamphetamine aside, there are more logical questions that attack that sentiment. Should there be age restrictions on some substances? If so, then that substance would be illegal for certain individuals. Should there be Prescription Requirements for some drugs? If so, then that substance would be illegal for certain individuals. Should there be regulation to make certain drugs were not being cut with dangerous chemicals? If so, then a version of that substance would be illegal. Should there be purchase limitations to prevent possible over doses? If so, then that substance would be illegal under certain circumstances. And if the answer to all of those qualifying questions is: Fuck you, legalize with no additional rules....... then your premise is foolish and dangerous and I don’t think you are a serious person. Forgive me if I think there should be laws prohibiting a 9 year old from cocaine… if I think fentanyl should be regulated… if I think hallucinogens should have some safety guard rails… if I object to the idea of a 12 year old buying all the methamphetamine they can afford!

The concept of “Legalize all drugs” feels akin to “Defund the Police”. A bumper sticker slogan about a nuanced and complicated policy shift that should be looked into; but by whittling it down to a Bumper Sticker Slogan and removing the conversation- it just acts to divide. Do I think American Drug Policy should undergo a massive shift? Fuck yes. Do I think Iowa needs to seriously reconsider a number of its drug laws? Fuck yes. Is harm reduction and medicinal benefit of hallucinogenics and every law surrounding cannabis something we need to spend serious time discussing and potentially reconsidering? Fuck yes. But “Seriously reconsider drug policy and make important incremental change” isn’t as Hashtag Net Friendly. And that really is one of the biggest things hurting current American Discourse. When we speak in slogans, hashtags, and ‘net language… we polarize and continue to debate from places of bad faith, low information, and poor nuance. It’s why Trump succeeds because he is nothing but “branding”. It wasn’t and isn’t “His complicated and nuanced approach to multiple policy considerations really shows a mix of intelligence and sensitivity to the current political climate.” It was “Trump the Bitch!” and “Let’s Go Brandon!” The conversation wasn’t and isn’t, “Immigration is a complicated topic that causes political shift every time it comes up. We’re in the middle of a global immigration crisis and no country really has a great response but that doesn’t mean we can’t have productive and important conversations and policies responding to it.” It was “Build the Wall!” and “Stop the Invaders” and… now… “They’re poisoning the blood of our country!” If you haven’t been paying attention- it is the very reason why so many, even in the Republican party, that were part of the Old “Compromise and Policy Debate” approach are retiring, quitting, getting the fuck out. I’m not suggesting it was a utopia; but we went from Policy Debates to… whatever it is Margorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Chip Roy, and Scott Perry, et al. want to focus camera attention on.
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Something people who don’t deal with drugs can sometimes balk at is… if you are a long time Meth User, it is something that can be identified on sight. Facial scabs and scarring, dental health, and involuntary body movements - particularly of the head and neck are pretty dead give aways. I have an individual who ticks all of those checkboxes. She wants to try to explain why she shouldn’t be convicted of a theft that she (1) absolutely did; (2) is caught on camera doing; (3) and admitted to police. Because the person who drove her to the store told her that he would hurt her if she didn’t steal for him. The person that drove her to the store never entered the store. “Hurt her” given her condition is very likely “would not give her drugs”. But the bigger issue? The State can prove theft. The State can prove all elements of theft. Even reviewing the Defendant’s cell phone records, we cannot find a single scrap of evidence that supports the “under coercion” claim. We can prove the driver texted “Can you get me these things?” We can prove that the Defendant was inside the store for 9 minutes, completely outside of the view of the driver. Meaning, she had time and opportunity to alert someone if she felt she was in danger. And lastly- the punishment is a fine. Not jail, not prison, not impinging upon her liberty.

But here’s the thing. Her story, while it has ZERO evidence, could be true. Honestly. Targeting a person with a drug habit is more common than you may think because the person targeting the addict knows people are not generally going to believe them. So, this is one of those times in the life of a prosecutor where you have to consider… Do you accept someone at their word or do you rely on what can be proved through evidence? And after doing this job in various forms for the last 9 years- “taking someone at their word” is dangerous, stupid, and often results in more serious harm. We have to rely on what the evidence can prove because people lie to protect themselves constantly. And, in truth, there is no legal defense of “someone put me up to it.”

BUT QUITE SINCERELY, THIS IS WHY I WANT TO GET THE TRANSFER TO JUVENILE LAW this summer. An adult does this and tells me what they did- my choices are to dismiss the charge or prosecute seeking a fine or jail time. Those are my only options. I can’t address the drug problem. I can’t address the relationship issue. I can address the crime and the crime only. BUT IN JUVENILE COURT I can! If this same thing happened in Juvenile Court? We could require drug treatment, individual therapy, and restitution with a promise that, if they complete those requirements, they would not be found guilty of a crime. Obviously, I know Juvenile Court has a lot of its own issues… not least of which being a profound lack of resources… but consider it. There was a kid at my last job… on probation for robbery with a dangerous weapon. He violated his probation four times. In adult court, I would have revoked his probation and sent him to prison. Because that would be my only response. But as this was a kid? His first violation was because his dad pulled a gun on him. He fled the home and refused to return which… as a juvenile on probation, you are required to be at your listed address at a certain time each night. His second violation was because he moved in with his mom… in a different county… without prior authorization… or ever updating his address with Probation. His third violation (simultaneous to his 4th) was because his mom kicked him out of the house for smoking pot. SO… his violations are “His dad is a violent, gun toting person which created a housing situation” do you think that kind of perpetual influence has something to do with the underlying charge? Do you think that treatment explains all of his other violations? Is this then maybe a housing and therapy need as opposed to a Criminal violating Probation? I want to go back to that world where maybe, maybe, long shot… but maybe I could help turn some people around. I got into the law to be a Victim’s Rights kind of Prosecutor. I realized that a lot of times, victims fight the prosecutor more than anyone else. Because too often victims will fight tooth and nail to hold onto the relationship even if they are the frequent victims of violent abuse. But maybe Juvenile Law really is more for me… more why I’m in this position. Or maybe I’ll discover it is just as stressful and just as upsetting. But I really really really hope I get the chance.
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Plus… maybe I wouldn’t have to have the same phone call over and over and over again. Because yes- truancy bullshit. Every time someone gets a letter, they call to demand an explanation.
Did you read the letter? YES, it says that the school has included the County Attorney’s Office regarding my student’s attendance. EXPLAIN! “The school has included the County Attorney’s Office regarding your student’s attendance. The law in Iowa requires a student to attend school or be officially listed as home schooled. If the student receives enough unexcused absences, the parent may be prosecuted for the child’s truancy. We don’t want to do that, so we send letters to alert you of the problem. If the problem persists, criminal prosecution may occur.” BUT MY KID is special and doesn’t need to go to school every day for the following reasons: x, y, z. “Ultimately, it is the school that determines excused versus unexcused. You’ll have to take up all of that with the school itself.” So what are you going to do for me?! “There’s nothing I can do for you. The school sends us the information and the requests. We proceed from there. The school is who you need to communicate with.” But I don’t LIKE communicating with the school. They keep telling me that me signing a letter saying my child has anxiety and will only come to school on Thursdays is not enough to meet their attendance requirements. “SIGH, that is a matter you’ll have to take up with the school. The law requires that if they count the absence as unexcused, should the student wrack up enough unexcused absences, the State will initiate Truancy Proceedings.” SO you’re just going to be a little asshole that doesn’t care about kids, too, huh? Well, fuck you very much!
And I get to have that conversation FIVE TIMES today!
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I know it is the immature and juvenile expectation that Adults Can Do Whatever They Want. Any individual who has lived in the modern era knows that there are VERY few (if any) that can actually do whatever they want. And I’ll be honest… I do have a lot of times where… if you asked me? I wouldn’t have any idea. I wouldn’t have any idea of what I would want to do if given the “Whatever You Want” ability. Partly because I’m always so filled with a sense of obligation to this, that, or the other thing. So to even approach the question I have to have caveats.
For instance:
I would have to start with an exorbitant amount of money because “whatever I want” could only come after the house was finished. So, all those things that need repairing including the flooding pipe, the flue, the garage door, the snow blower. Then all those boxes that need unpacking and places for everything. Then, if I was still working my job, I’d have to make sure the same was done for my office. Cleaned and functional. THEN doing whatever I want?
Wouldn’t be all that exciting! I’d travel a little. Finally see New York, New Orleans, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Would hunt down some favorite bands or comedians and make sure to see them perform live. I’d spend more time in the water for both relaxing and working out. I’d see if we could get Nala trained for Senior Agility competitions. I’d take voice lessons. I’d make more of an effort to see family and friends.

And due to work obligations and expenses.... it’s more accurate to say that I don’t know if any of that is ever going to happen. So… “whatever we want” is often in direct competition with “what we can reasonably do.”

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