The beginning of the year is a time to reflect and start anew. First, I would like to thank all of the readers of Legalspeaks—whether you read often or infrequently, you are a part of the success of LegalSpeaks. I have enjoyed connecting with you over the years. For a final look back over 2014, I would like to review what I considered to be the best of LegalSpeaks. You may have others that you consider to be the best. Please feel free to comment. And again thanks for a great 2014. 2015 is going to be even better. Best wishes for a thought provoking and solution oriented 2015 with a renewed commitment for justice for all.
Happy New Year to One and All!!
1. Domestic Violence Month and the NFL
As we started Domestic Violence Month, I made a plea for one of the 32 NFL teams to make domestic violence prevention a priority for their team and to go above and beyond what the NFL outlines for their behavior and policy. The NFL’s new policy on domestic violence allows for a team to add additional training to domestic violence as long as it does not usurp the NFL policy in its place. Since then, no team has stepped up to do anything but play football. And in late December, Darren Sanders, the Baltimore Ravens’ Director of Security has been charged with a 4th degree sex offense.
2. Ferguson is Everywhere
Before the Grand Jury returned its bill of no indictment, I expressed that the fear of many African Americans in America was Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted. And since the St. Louis, Grand Jury failed to indict the office who shot and killed Michael Brown, the same result has happened in New York City with the death of Eric Garner. There are two America’s when it comes to criminal justice. And for African Americans, they are apparent everywhere.
3. Michael Dunn Sentencing
Justice is often denied for African Americans but sometimes, it is only delayed. It took over two years and two trials to bring justice to the case of Jordan Davis. In the case of Michael Dunn for the shooting death of Jordan Davis who was sitting in a car with his teenaged friends when he was gunned down for playing his music too loud, he received the maximum sentence for 3 attempted murders and the murder of Jordan Davis—effectively causing him to spend the rest of his life in jail. Judge Healey addressed the case, saying the Dunn case shows how society has lost its way and its “moral compass”.
4. Renisha McBride was a Woman, Black and Also Human
The case of Renisha McBride was not as well covered in the media as the cases of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. Justice prevailed for McBride as her killer, Ted Wafer received the maximum sentence for taking the life of a young woman who only appeared at his doorsteps to ask for help. For some white Americans, African Americans are never viewed as needing help but causing trouble. That is how Wafer saw McBride. The jury saw him as the killer.
5. Why are Women Paid Less than Men in 2014
The sad statistics still show that women earn significantly less than men for the same job—even women with college and advanced degrees like law. I account my own personal story which was covered in the April, Essence Magazine on the disparities of pay for women in the legal profession.
Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor who addresses issues of race and gender in the law.