Friday, December 02, 2005

Talking entry

This'll be a talking entry.

We'll start with something mentioned earlier today, the e-mail that came in on Beatty Chadwick. A few e-mails came in slamming the man, a few came in saying it was outlandish (that he's imprisoned for ten years). Most wanted to know my opinion.

And it seems to be on order of: ex-husband or ex-wife, who do you sympathize with?

I don't know enough about the case to "take sides." I'd honestly never heard of it until the e-mail came in. I called a few friends (including two at ABC news which is how we ended up with that link) asking, "Is this legit?" because I honestly thought it might be a joke e-mail.

I was told that it was indeed a real case and given background on it. I know neither party and haven't followed the story. So I wouldn't "take sides" on this.

My impression based upon details by five reporters is that Beatty (we'll refer to both by the first names) didn't want to part with money. Greed. Bobbie (the former wife) has details of difficulties (his cheapness, etc.) and hardships she suffered in their marriage. I could see Tuesday Weld playing the part in a TV movie.

But in a Weld movie, "Bobbie" would find a way to track him down and freeze his assets.

I don't know that we put people behind jail for something like this. This is a community property issue. But he's been imprisoned for contempt of court. I don't think Susan McDougal should have been imprisoned for that. (Especially after reading her book.)

If Beatty were a child and the court was a parent, we'd characterize this as a power struggle that's escalated out of control.

Is he going to die behind bars? (I believe he's now at least seventy.) (I didn't read the ABC story, by the way. If you did, you have read more than I have -- I only read the e-mail and then depended upon friends to walk me through it.)

What's being served here, what principle?

To me, this isn't about Bobbie or Beatty at this point, it's about a court engaged in a power struggle over something that I'm not sure they should have jurisidiction over.

He's in contempt of court not for holding back information that would help solve a crime (such as a murder or kidnapping). This is about money.

It's an ugly dispute between two parties and one refused to satisfy the court so he's been kept behind bars for ten years.

I'm not really sure that's the court's role.

That Alito is sure of it bothers me in light of legislation such as the new bankruptcy laws.

Beatty probably has socked the dough away (all five reporters I spoke to believed he had) but there's been no legal finding on that in a criminal court. He's not been charged (or tried) for anything criminal. The court feels he's not been forthcoming (and probably that he's mocked the court with his refusals) so he's been put behind bars for ten years.

That really strikes me as something that goes to an out of control judge. He could be charged with and convicted of crimes and already be out on parole. He's not been judged as a threat to anyone (other than a judge's hurt feelings and ego) and he's served ten years behind bars.

That bothers me.

If Household Credit sues you for lack of payment and you say you don't have the money, what happens if Alito's on the Supreme Court?

Again, there's no criminal charge that Beatty's facing. Bobbie feels he has the money (and she's probably correct) but this isn't anything to do with her (his being behind bars). This is a judge deciding that someone's not cooperating so the person is held in contempt.

At what point has enough time been served?

Let's use everyone's favorite pinata, Judith Miller. Had she not come forward, could this have been her? Reporters are sometimes held in contempt of court for refusing to name a source. Usually what happens there is that after a certain limit, public opinion begins to go towards the reporter and the judge releases the reporter (or refuses to extend the initial contempt sentence).

Alito agrees with these findings (of contempt) so I think it's worth asking exactly how long should someone be held in contempt? I have no idea what the "proper" number of days should be. But I can tell you ten years seems excessive (putting it mildly) to me.

It's a power struggle. It has nothing to do with justice, it has a lot to do with ego. "You will do as a I say." Obviously, he won't. So he's going to die behind bars because some judge's ego is too great to be an adult and find a way to de-escalate this situation?

I'd love to know where in the Constitution Alito feels the case has validity since he's not of the belief that we live under a living constitution. Some might see this as an example of a case where judges have legislated from the bench. (Contrary to the myth, the right wing does do that.)

But I personally see it as a power struggle between a person and the court. That Alito's unable to work out some resolution on this issue adds another question of whether he's fit for the Court or not.

On another topic, we didn't have a large number of highlights in that entry this morning. The reason for that was I was trying to track down whether or not the e-mail was accurate. (And away from a computer for most of the morning so dependent on the phone.) As that was winding down, I was finally at the computer and working on that entry. But Skip wondered if the visitors were getting preference over members? That's a question worth asking and one I asked myself as I e-mailed the post.

Everyone will have to decide for themselves (or refer the issue to Beth). We had Susan and Ken's highlights. We had the three headlines from Democracy Now! selected by members. I wanted the Human Rights Watch list included because as I was reading Ian Fisher's article (in the Times), I thought, "Why didn't they list the names?"

It's easy to say "twenty-six" and for people to see it as a number. These ghost detainees are people. I felt Human Rights Watch brought that home. I felt it was important and since I didn't see the names (or a story on it) in two other papers I'd read that morning, I made the decision to lead with that.

On Alito, as on Roberts before, we address him via the gina & krista round-robin. That's Gina and Krista's commentaries, their roundtables, the thing I write for them each week and, when the hearings begin, Judge will provide commentary. But this was an issue that I was unaware of (and judging from the e-mails, members were unaware of as well). I thought it was worth noting.

So there was that from a visitor and then there was the radio program. With that, the topic was of interest to at least one member and it's an indy radio show. If it had arrived before the Indymedia posts went up last night, I would've included it in then. It served at least one member and that's why it was included.

There are also some e-mails asking where is Rebecca? She didn't post tonight. That was her decision to attempt to post this weekend because there are issues about "all the sites go dark on the weekend." Rebecca's rearranged her schedule and is going to attempt it this week and next and then decide whether to return to posting on Fridays or to do one on the weekend. She'll base it on what's comfortable to her.

A few e-mails wondered if I agreed with Cedric and that's why I didn't post on race last night?
I think Cedric wrote a wonderful entry on that topic (I think everyone who contributed did a wonderful job) but I'd stated that morning that it was Thursday and we had our Indymedia focus. There were a huge amount of e-mails highlighting Indymedia. (Which is why I pushed the five excerpts that members had requested. And also why I passed one on to Gina and Krista for their round-robin.) For those entries, I go to the member's e-mail account and read through the e-mails and then select what I hope are the highlights the membership will be most interested in (and if something's on a topic that we haven't covered but should have, it will always get included). If there's an explanation of why something should be included, I read that. Otherwise I scan the excerpts quickly. Even so, those entries take three hours to compose. (I use three screens, one for the e-mails, and two to post on as I come across things.)
On another day, I would've come up with something on that topic. Thursdays doesn't really allow for playing by ear. We're locked in to the morning entries, the Democracy Now! entry and then the Indymedia entries at night.

I'd noted that morning that unless members e-mailed saying to drop the Indymedia posts on Thursday (no e-mails came in suggesting that), it was unlikely that I'd have time to address it.
There are plans to do that again, to try to get as many people online to address the topic, hopefully, we'll be able to have something up here then. (And any member could then and can in the future weigh in on that topic and it will be posted here.)

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