Tag: recent

Is Getting Your Own Confession A Good Idea?

jamie x

Originally published on theLaw.tv on January 24, 2014  Getting Your Own Confession

A Los Angeles woman has grabbed headlines this week with her viral YouTube video confrontation. In this video, “Jamie X,” as she is calling herself, confronted her high school teacher, who allegedly molested her many years ago. Jamie says the abuse started when she was 12, going on for several years; she is now 28. One of the reasons that Jamie made the call at this point is because she discovered her alleged abuser is now an assistant principal. The YouTube clip shows Jamie calling the teacher on the phone, and asking why the teacher manipulated her and took advantage of her position. The female teacher responded by admitting to her actions, as well as saying that she “regrets” what she did.

The video is very emotionally charged, as well as tragic. But is the video going to be admissible in court? Should Jamie X have done this controversial act?

In most states, you are not allowed to video or tape record another person without their permission. There is an exception is for law enforcement personnel, who can do so with a warrant from a judge. Of course, getting a warrant is not that easy. The police officers have to set forth their case to the judge, showing probable cause, what crimes they hope to solve, and how the target of the surveillance is connected to those crimes. The reason behind this is to prevent an invasion of your privacy. In California, the law is very clear – you cannot tape a private conversation unless both parties to the conversation give permission.

In spite of the law, was it even a good idea? In all likelihood, the video will not come in as evidence at trial. But the video was helpful for several reasons. As a result, Jamie  had evidence to present to the police to jump start an investigation. There is a very liberal statute of limitations on child abuse cases, since by the very nature of the crime, reporting is often delayed. Children are abused while they are young, and as they reach adulthood, they then realize that what happened to them was wrong. Sometimes molestation victims suppress the memories, which come back to them many years later. Manipulation is a big part of a child molester’s plan. At the point of adulthood, they have the strength to tell; they are better able to break the hold of the guilt and mind games of the abuser that held them hostage. However, with the delay comes a loss of evidence. This video gave police a starting point. Hopefully, if the teacher confesses once, she will confess again.

The other good part about the video is another victim has come forward as a result. While the teacher said on the video that Jamie X was the only victim, another young woman came out today, stating that she had an identical experience with this teacher. The revelation strengthens the case, and can possibly result in multiple charges of child abuse with multiple victims in the same case.

Is it the best idea to get your own confession? No. It is better to speak with local law enforcement and let them do a thorough investigation. You don’t want to taint any potential evidence from your actions, not to mention the possibility putting yourself at risk.

No matter what happens, hopefully Jamie is able to get the closure she so desperately needs.

“Thug Baby” – The Aftermath

school to prison

We we have all heard about (or seen) the now infamous “thug baby” video out of Nebraska. The Omaha Police Association came under fire for posting this video to their website. They say it was a teaching moment…but was it really?

While the toddler was removed from the home, the mother (who is 16), is now in protective custody herself as a result of death threats from the release of the video.

Words, and actions both have consequences. See my article about it on theLaw.tv. Free Speech vs. Responsible Speech

As always, please share your thoughts!

A Hairy Situation: Can You Be Fired For Your Hair?

A Hairy Situation: Can You Be Fired For Your Hair?

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Is my hair distracting?               Image   

This week, stories emerged about a woman who is in danger of losing her job at an insurance company for wearing dreadlocks.  In a related story several months ago, a little girl was sent home from school for wearing dreadlocks.  The common theme in both of these stories? The powers that be deemed the hairstyle to be somehow distracting or unacceptable.

Ashley Davis, from Missouri, was told that due to a change in company policy, she would have to cut her dreadlocks.  She was hired with dreadlocks, but several months after her employment, the company policy changed to say that “dreadlocks, braids, mohawks, mullets and other hairstyles are against company guidelines”.

7 year old Tiana Parker was forced to leave her school due to their ban on dreadlocks.  The school’s policy stated that “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” Her situation is different, since the policy was in place at the time of her enrollment.  Still, this is a reflection of a refusal to accept a hairstyle of a particular culture.

To give some perspective, removing your dreadlocks is not a simple process.  As Ms. Davis stated in her interviews, she had been growing her dreadlocks for over 10 years, and it is a part of her identity.  Additionally, due to the permanent nature of the hairstyle, it would basically require her to shave her head, and regrow her hair.

From a legal perspective, there are several issues in Ms. Davis’ case.  The company hired her, then subsequently changed their policy; in light of this, a grandfather – type clause should have been applied, in which current employees would be exempt.  Can the company’s policy be considered to be racially discriminatory? Yes and no.  Yes, because it is clear that hairstyles that apply to a certain ethnicity (dreadlocks and braids are generally worn by persons of African descent) are targeted by the policy.  However, on the other side, the policy also targets mohawks and mullets.  Interestingly, mullets and mohawks are not usually worn by folks seeking to work in corporate America.  It had its day when the song “Achey Breaky Heart” was popular, but not so anymore.  So to be practical, the wording of this policy directly targets persons of color…but is cleverly worded to avoid discrimination claims. A good lawyer wrote this policy; but a good lawyer may be able to bring the policy down.

On a day to day level, these policies are a result of ignorance, fear, and a tinge of racism.  There is a perception that dreadlocks = drug dealer, hoodlum, or filth.  This is simply not true.  Dreadlocks have a long history, and quite bluntly, is an easier hairstyle to maintain as opposed to putting a myriad of chemicals in your hair on a regular basis (which is the other option to create the look of straight hair).  As an attorney, I choose to wear my hair in dreadlocks.  I try serious cases, including homicide cases.  Depending on the occasion or trial, I wear my hair in a bun, or a tight ponytail.   What style your hair is in should not matter as long as it is clean, maintained, and professionally styled for the environment you work in. 

Can you be fired for your hair? Yes.

Should Ashley Davis sue her employer? Absolutely.  

Will she win? Maybe not. But it is the principle…and a way to open employers’ minds.

Weigh in below and tell me what you think!

Melba Pearson is an attorney, writer, speaker, wife and Resident Legal Diva.