Case Closed? Or a Rush to Judgment? Only time will tell.


"Case Closed"? Or a "Rush to Judgment"?

Only Time will Tell.

For the last 15 years as a Social Science teacher for LAUSD--I have annually spent three weeks per year in my U.S. History classes discussing the JFK assassination.  There is a plethora of documentation to review, including several books written on the subject--and after three weeks my students realize that we have only 'scratched the surface' because there is so much information surrounding the case.  Their 10 page Cornell Notes research project goes above and beyond the required length.  It is a subject that requires extensive research, in order to get the full picture, and one cannot draw immediate conclusions without knowing the facts.

In 1994, Warren Commission apologist Gerald Posner wrote a bestselling book called "Case Closed"--where he goes out of his way to ignore the evidence and convince readers that the assassination of JFK in 1963 was committed by a lone gunman--Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO).  He juxtaposes Oswald's motives with statements such as "Oswald was driven by his own twisted and impenetrable furies", as if to imply that he alone had access to Oswald's motives and thought process.  This book was to "put to bed" all of the conspiracy theories swirling around the assassination and the fallout from farce of the Warren Commission; and ultimately quiet the 30 year ground swell of public outcry that had come to dominate the historical landscape; it was essentially written to quiet the masses.

Mark Lane on the other hand, in his book "Rush to Judgment" (published in 1966) takes a different position; he poses the difficult questions that the American people and government were afraid to ask about the assassination; "What if it wasn't Oswald?  What if there were more than one person involved? Was there a conspiracy?  Was there a 'Rush to Judgment' by the Warren Commission and subsequently by the American public?"   He points out that with no trial, and Oswald conveniently murdered by Jack Ruby--it may take years for all the facts surrounding the case to become public.  But in the minds of the American people in 1963, it was an open and shut case.  The "Case was Closed" and there was a "Rush to Judgment".

On Friday July 25th, my 'case was closed'.  I was strong armed into a plea of 'No Contest' to charge 242/243 (e) (1)--"Offensive Touching of a Domestic Partner":   This after months of legal haggling and attempting to go trial to prove my innocence.  But that opportunity would never come to pass--I had already been painted as a criminal.  There was a 'Rush to Judgment on behalf of the D.A.'s office, and with no trial there would be no research or pursuit of the truth. 

The turmoil that sparked all this goes back a few years.  Unfortunately, I had made the mistake of calling the police on my 'then wife' back in spring of 2011, because she was getting violent with me.  The police took me to jail, even though I apologized for forgetting I was black and calling the police in the first place--and in spite of the fact that I had sustained visible injuries.  I came home the next day to find out that she had filed a temporary restraining order against me, and I was re-arrested.  I plead guilty to 'Criminal Trespass', and yet they gave me all of the penalties of a Domestic Violence case (there were no D.V. charges filed). I was given three years of probation, 52 Anger Management classes, 5 days of Caltrans and a $500 fine.  I was now officially vilified, with a probation tag that was scheduled to drop off August 1st 2014.  The had attached a three year C.P.O. (Criminal Protective Order) to the case, an order my ex-wife originally refused in court--but who later conveniently used the same order for her favor in family court while claiming she was afraid of me. 

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Move out day
September- 2013
My then wife and I attempted to reconcile shortly afterward, but that attempt was futile.  She filed for divorce one year later, but remained in my house for over a year--due to her inability to fiscally handle moving out.  I, meanwhile struggled and scraped to pull our home out of foreclosure status.   I had to choose between that battle, or the battle of responding to her divorce decree.  I chose the former, and it would come back to haunt me.  However I felt at the time that keeping a roof over our heads was a priority, after all she was fiscally unable to do so--and if I failed we would all be on the street.

Since my divorce finalized in September of 2013, I only have legal visitation of my 3 sons (Chad--12, Matthew--11, and Ross--10) on weekends.  My lack of response had cost me the opportunity to seek joint custody.  Furthermore, she had told two boldface lies that went uncontested: she had claimed that she was destitute and that I had abandoned my family.  Unfortunately, my wages were now being garnished to the tune of $2652 per month--roughly 48% of my 'take home pay' as a teacher.   Two subsequent 'Responsive Declaration Motions'--to revisit the issue--were subsequently denied by the Judge Cunningham in Family Law Court; and it was becoming clear that my rights had become a non-issue and I was 'persona non-grata'.

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Matthew, Ross and Chad
Santa Monica Stairs- Fall 2013
My new relationship with my sons would now hinge on a 48 hour whirlwind of activity from Friday night at 7pm, to Sunday at the same time.  I tried to keep some things normal, and signed my boys up for flag football teams at Balboa Park last fall: and I would coach them just as I always had.  The only glitch; I had no control over getting them to weekday practices or games. Subsequently, we moved our practice times to Friday at 7pm--in order to allow my sons to at least get one practice in before Saturday games (as she would not bring them to games or practices during weeknights).  Sadly, their mom even sabotaged that.  She brought them late to the park for 7 consecutive weeks, and even convinced my oldest son Chad that he should not play or participate (he ended up playing in the championship game, leading the team in tackles for loss and tackles).  It was as if he had bottled up a season's worth of energy into one game.  Yet his mom's actions were continuing to undermine my authority as both his dad and his coach.

Since I am not a 'weekend dad', and had played a prominent role in the my children's academic lives and progress since their birth--I attempted to make up the time lost by visiting my boys afterschool (a minimum of three days a week) at their respective elementary and middle schools; for both homework and interaction.  It was hit and miss most days; sometimes I would get to visit them--and other days I would not.  It all depended on what kind of cooperation and mood my ex-wife was in.  Interactions and exchanges of the children still occurred at my residence at this point, sometimes with her disdain for me being palpable; other times the interactions were peaceful.  I did my best to ignore her vindictive behavior. My main concern was easing the transition for my sons, and continuing to play an active role in their personal and academic development.  As an 18 year veteran educator I figured, it was the least I can do for my own kids.

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My son Ross and I during an afterschool visit. 
Fall 2013

But all of that began to unravel on January 13th of this year, when my ex-wife randomly and un-expectedly showed up at my front door at 10pm.  I was entertaining a female guest, when she rang the doorbell and began demanding entry to pick up her mail and jackets belonging to my sons.  After several minutes of awkward hesitation, I reluctantly opened the door and put her mail and keys right outside the screen door.  In that instant she tried to force her way in, and I slammed the door in her face.  She proceeded to stand on my porch for an additional 45 minutes, and it was only at the behest of our family therapist (thank you Dr. Sherbin) via cell phone--that she finally relented and left.

On January 15th (two days later) I encountered her while leaving my son's elementary school.  It was there that one of the parents (Jesse Mathis) witnessed my ex-wife assaulting me: she had demanded that I talk to her and blocked my path when I tried to leave the school.  It was only because of one my patented 'pass rush spin moves', that I was able to escape and get around her.  Problem was (like any offensive linemen who gets beat), she decided to grab and hold me; first my shirt and then my face.  She then proceeded to follow me to my van, while verbally challenging me and berating me.  Mr. Mathis would later become one of my key witnesses, in a trial that would never come to pass.

Two weeks later, my ex-wife brought my kids to visit me at my classroom during night school (I teach at Thoreau Continuation H.S.), and proceeded to stay for over an hour while I helped my son Matthew with a school project.  I thought that I had weathered the storm of her scorned feelings, but I that calm would be short lived.  A few days later her sister came to visit her from Holland, and that would prove to be the beginning of the end in terms of visitation compliance and cooperation.

On February 21st --with her sister waiting in the car, she dropped off my two youngest boys while telling me that my oldest son Chad was refusing to get out of the car.  He allegedly wanted to spend the weekend with his aunt, and while I was suspicious of his behavior at first--I let it slide because of the presence of an out of town guest.  But the following weekend things escalated, as she boldly marched into my living room and announced: "I will be keeping the boys next weekend so that they can visit with my sister!"  I told her I would consent, only if she gave me some weekdays in exchange--an idea that she pompously scoffed at as the custodial parent.  She told me, "I will give you a few days in April during spring break."  I disagreed and told her that we had no deal, but my rebuttal mattered not.  The following weekend she was a 'no call, no show'.  I was crushed, as it was the first time that I had missed my weekend visit.  This missed weekend may not seem like a lot to the average reader, but when you suddenly have your children ripped from your environment, days without seeing them can seem like weeks--it is sheer emotional torture.  I took one for the team, with an eye on the following weekend.

But my lack of exercising my rights (as poultry as they are) only emboldened her, and she attempted to pull the same stunt on March 7th.  This time I went to the Van Nuys police station and forced the desk officer to file a report (they were reluctant at first, insisting this was a civil matter), but I reminded them that their duties were to not only prevent crime--but to make arrest when they suspect a crime has been committed.  My ex-wife's violation of a court order was in fact a crime.  The police called her on Saturday evening March 8th, and at 10pm that evening she finally showed up with my children--infuriated that she had been compelled by the police to follow the order.

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At my house, after pickup from Van Nuys LAPD.
March 8th, 2014
My two youngest sons were happy to see me that night, however my oldest son was angry and distraught over the propaganda and rhetoric that his mother had been feeding him.  Lies such as "your father wanted me to abort you" and "he had several girlfriends while we were married" had punctured my hero's veil.  The honor that comes with consistent fatherhood was now being ripped to shreds.   Chad is on the mild spectrum of autism, and he is a very emotional child. That night Chad cursed and disrespected me all the way to my van, and once inside when I got in his face and told him enough--he attempted to assault me.  Once he finally calmed down, we had a heart to heart talk in my garage--and began the slow process of rebuilding our relationship.  My ex-wife would later use the incident the following week--to file a false DCFS claim of child abuse; her third such un-founded and baseless accusation in a year--and a claim that would go nowhere with Children's Services.

Thus was the backdrop, leading up to the event in question on March 12th  (for which I would subsequently be charged for).  Back on this day I was visiting my son Chad after school at Hesby Oaks Middle School here in the valley in Los Angeles.  At exactly 3pm, I proceeded to walk in through the entrance to the school driveway--a long stretch of road that runs for about 400 yards pass the school.  As I approached the front, I could see my ex-wife come rumbling around the corner with Chad's backpack on wheels.   As she walked at a brisk pace, I followed her into the parking lot and up to her van.   I asked Nile and Marquis (2 of my former students and workers) to stand of to the side about 20 yards away and observe, at which point Nile handed me the water and snacks that I had asked him to carry.  She had just opened the back hatch up--and her and Chad were standing there putting his backpack into the back of her mini-van, when she turned and saw me approaching the car.  She immediately (and in a very paranoid and scripted manner) moved to the driver's side door and jumped in the car; feigning that she was afraid of me  (I found this awkward, considering that she had just been at my house two days prior picking up more of her items that were stored in my house during afterschool hours).  Chad however froze, and turned towards me--clearly hesitant to follow his mother's disturbing lead.  After all, we had been down this road before.  I was however, determined that my intentions be played out in the universe; so I said enthusiastically, "Hey chief, how you doing buddy?  Give me a hug!" 

As soon as he took a step towards me, his mother barked out from an half opened door; "Chad!  Don't talk to him, get in the car now and let's go."  Chad paused for a second, clearly conflicted. Then he followed her marching orders.  As he got into the side door, and began to slide the door closed--I put my hand in the door jamb catching it, and re-opened the door.   The treasures of my life lay inside.

I leaned into Chad who was sitting in the seat immediately in front of me.  I grabbed his head and kissed his forehead, and told him I loved him.  Then my youngest son Ross jumped up and kissed me, and finally Matthew who sitting the farthest away in the corner did the same; openly defying his mother's orders not to get up or talk to me.  "Alright guys, I will see you later. I love you".  During this 1 minute period, Tracey proceeded to jump out of her seat and try to use her hips to move me out of the doorway (to no avail).  This amounted to her second assault on me in the past two months.  The whole time she is yelling, "I'm gonna call the police! You are a bully!"  I simply turned and walked away, with a grin on my face a mile wide.  I was at peace and in a state of bliss-- knowing that my children had experienced their father's love today.  I was so proud of myself for not having any kind of emotional reaction to her rhetoric, and I have to admit it having Deepak Chopra playing in my ear definitely helped block out the sting of her rhetoric.

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Ross and Matthew on DVD Circa 2006
However, I had no idea what sinister plan she had in store for me.  Two days later when I went to the Van Nuys police station for the visitation exchange, she didn't show up. After one hour I asked the officer to call her (he was reluctant to do so at first, giving me a sermon on how this was a civil matter and not a criminal one: and again I reminded him that a court order violation is a criminal matter). He gets her one the phone, and she tells him that she has filed a restraining order (at the moment I still have not been formally served) against me and that she is afraid of me (Here we go with the "I'm the victim" game in full effect). The officer got off the phone and told me that she does not have to bring them, and that I can't see my boys until after the hearing on April 3rd.  He also rudely told me "consider yourself served now".  I was crushed, and I haven't felt that kind of pain since my mother passed away. I went to my van, and had a watershed moment for ten minutes, before pulling myself together through prayer and a meditation. I came home that night to a empty house, and the silence was deafening.

For the next 21 days I would suffer in sort of a parental purgatory; not allowed so much as a 'hello' to my own children.  I wrote extensively about this in my forthcoming book: "The Fall of 2013" in a chapter called "Stolen Moments" (some segments were posted on Facebook)--in which I give a day to day account of my emotional suffering and the myriad of ways that I found to cope with this ordeal.  An ordeal that would last for three weeks; and it is hands down the longest I have ever gone without seeing my children.  The suffering and anguish were in-describable.  I sought peace in meditation, the gym as an outlet for my anger and frustration, visits to the beach to keep perspective on all of this,  building and home improvement projects to keep my creativity alive, weekly sessions with my therapist and watching DVD recordings of my children when they were much younger.  The recordings served as reminders of the father that I once was--and the father that I would surely become again. I kept prompting myself that this suffering was 'only temporary' and that 'this too shall pass'.  It was the only way I was able to remain functional.  

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Reflecting at the Beach-
2 weeks of no visitation or contact
March 2014

I also had to find ways to express my love to them, in spite of the court order.  I delivered messages through kids I had coached in park football, kids who also went to school with my sons.  I left snacks in secret places that I had told them about, simple snacks that said 'I love you' on the rappers.  They would know how much I loved and missed them, bogus restraining order be damned.  I also found a militant advocacy group online called 'The United Dads of Africa'.  They sponsored a large  20' banner, and subversively installed it across the street from the school.  It read:












When my day in court finally came on April 3rd, I had hired a family law attorney to represent me and fight her request for a permanent restraining order.  My ex-wife showed up with representatives from a battered woman's advocacy group, and was allowed by the court to travel down memory lane; and in doing so she had clearly taken the victim role to new heights. She tried in vein to introduce the poster and text messages I had sent to my sons during the 'restrained period', but the judge found no fault in me simply saying "I love you".  It was the sanest thing that would happen in court all day.

Although the proceedings revealed the aforementioned facts of March 12th, Judge Tamara Hall turned it into a kangaroo court and granted my ex-wife a permanent R.O.  Her decision based on the 'sheer theater' that  and one sided historical account that had played out in her court room that day, not an ounce of truth emanating from my ex-wife's lips.  But that wasn't even the kicker, my ex-wife then asked the judge to include my children-- Suggesting that I was a threat to them also.  I was flabbergasted, as my opinion of her disseminated to a new 'all time low'--my heart also followed suit, sinking to a very dark and depressing place.  My ability to parent was now being challenged. 

The judge briefly considered 'monitored visitation', but after I made an impassioned plea to the court (replete with tears and a demand for some form of justice)--my visitation remained intact.   I left the court that day with the bitter taste of injustice, the sour taste of malice, and the spicy taste of systematic biased towards men--all swirling around in my mouth.  Not to mention a bill from my attorney for $2400.

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Re-uniting with my sons at the Topanga LAPD station.
April 4th, 2014

About a month later, I received a letter in the mail from the D.A.'s office--informing me that as a result of the incident of March 12th, Domestic Violence Charges were being filed against me.  I found it appalling that they could file charges on a case where NO INVESTIGATION was done whatsoever.  I was never called, contacted or interviewed by police.  There was in essence "A Rush to Judgment" by law enforcement and the prosecutor.   I was now officially caught in her web of deceit.

After continuing my first hearing (and being told by the judge that a Criminal Protective Order was being issued), I appeared again on May 19th in Division 101 in Van Nuys; I was completely un-aware of the forces that were working against me.  Little did I know, my ex-wife had called the D.A.'s office and told a blatant lie; she said that I had accosted her at the children's school during the previous week--threatening and harassing her.  I had in fact gone to the school (which was my legal right) and randomly encountered her coming out of the front of the school, when I attempted to get as far away as possible--she followed me around the entire school while pretending to be looking for our children.  Then she proceeded to go into the office (where my two younger sons had been told to wait for her) and call the police.   I left that day to avoid any conflict, and I was confident because I had one of my workers with me as a witness.