Archive for the A.A. in Court Category


Albert Birmingham is accused of getting liquored up and killing Aloha Adams with his car in a McDonald-s drive-thru Nanakuli, Hawaii:

Driver indicted in Nānākuli death

Witnesses told police that Birmingham was honking his SUV’s horn at the vehicle carrying Adams and others, which was in front of Birmingham in the drive-through lane at McDonald’s.

Adams and a 15-year-old girl got out of their car after Adams’ boyfriend became involved in a confrontation with Birmingham, police said.

Birmingham’s car allegedly accelerated and struck Adams and the girl, according to police reports.

Adams was run over by the front and rear tires of the SUV, according to Kapp.

This week, he got arrested for impaired driving and driving without a license. Of course, there is no need to worry, because Albert B. is a member of AA. His lawyer used the “I’m in Alcoholics Anonymous” card to try and spring his client from the joint. You know…because it’s worked so well for him up to now:

Grieving mom sounds off on killer’s new DUI arrest
“The defense argued that Birmingham was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and was no longer driving.”

The judge, who is apparently ignorant of how rigorous honesty™ is supposed to work*, denied this assclown bail (yea, judge!).


*It’s the truth if you really want it to be the truth, and if it is convenient at the time.

Why Addiction Recovery Should Be A Feminist Issue

There are so many different angles from which to criticize the current state of addiction recovery. Not only is it a culture, a permanent lifestyle, and a religious institution, but it’s an enormously profitable industry that thrives on its own failure (relapse is big bucks). But it seems that people who are participating in the progressive conversation on the big stage aren’t aware that addiction recovery is a parallel universe that influences popular culture. It’s imperative that progressive voices genuinely begin to challenge it, and I’m going to try to appeal to different arenas of the activist sphere and make a case for why addiction should be part of the conversation. Right now, I am hoping to put recovery culture on the feminist radar by offering a condensed version of this twisted world and the culture it has generated. I don’t have much of a feminist pedigree, but I hope I can make a good case for its relevance to feminist activism.

I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog throwing tantrums about the fact that addiction gets no play among the skeptic and new atheist writers out there – people who actively combat quackery and religious influence in public policy. How does it escape these people that a whole branch of public health has already been handed over to the faith healers?

I have a few theories about that. But my favorite is that, despite their skepticism, they’re still a little superstitious about the topic: Addiction is such a complicated and elusive condition. Who wants to touch that with a ten foot pole? The reason addiction is such a mystery, though, is that our conventional understanding of addiction has its roots in religious philosophy – not science, psychology, or medicine – and it has not evolved at all in 75 years. Neither has the way we treat it. The vast majority of addiction facilities in this country employ the 12 Step program for spiritual enlightenment as the basis for their treatment. Things we take for granted about addiction, for instance that it’s a “progressive, fatal disease,” are completely unfounded, but they put the sharpest critical thinkers in a bind. Doesn’t everyone know at least one person who believes that their life was saved by accepting their powerlessness? How do you start challenging that if you think that someone could die of it?

“I’d be dead without AA” is one among many thought-stopping cliches that keep criticism of addiction mythology at bay. Add to this AA’s own persistent misinformation campaign, its unimpeached reputation as a benevolent organization, their noble insistence on anonymity, the public’s general ignorance, and the amount of time and effort it would take for someone on the outside to piece together a big picture. This mess has allowed a fringe religious culture to spring up around addiction and quietly influence the landscape in ways that I think would be of enormous interest to feminists. At least I hope I can make a case for it: Continue reading Why Addiction Recovery Should Be A Feminist Issue

Drug Court Isn’t Helping

Here are a couple of interesting new reports for you, both on the effectiveness of Drug Courts.

1. The Justice Policy Institute:

Addicted to Courts: How a Growing Dependence on Drug Courts Impacts People and Communities

America’s growing reliance on drug courts is an ineffective allocation of scarce state resources. Drug courts can needlessly widen the net of criminal justice involvement, and cannot replace the need for improved treatment services in the community. Of the nearly 8 million people in the U.S. reporting needing treatment for drug use, less than one fourth of people classified with substance abuse or a dependence on drugs and/or alcohol receives treatment, and for those who do receive treatment, over 37 percent are referred by the criminal justice system.

While drug courts may be a better justice system option than incarceration, they are still a justice system approach to a public health issue. Drug courts also are not the most effective way to help people who are struggling with addiction, and in many ways, only serve to “widen the net” of U.S. criminal justice control, which now stands at about 7 million people either incarcerated or on probation or parole.


2. The Drug Policy Alliance:

Drug Courts Are Not the Answer

Drug Courts Are Not the Answer: Toward a Health-Centered Approach to Drug Use. Drug Policy Alliance; March 2011.
Report released on March 22, 2011.

Drug Courts are Not the Answer finds that drug courts are an ineffective and inappropriate response to drug law violations. Many, all the way up to the Obama administration, consider the continued proliferation of drug courts to be a viable solution to the problem of mass arrests and incarceration of people who use drugs. Yet this report finds that drug courts do not reduce incarceration, do not improve public safety, and do not save money when compared to the wholly punitive model they seek to replace. The report calls for reducing the role of the criminal justice system in responding to drug use by expanding demonstrated health approaches, including harm reduction and drug treatment, and by working toward the removal of criminal penalties for drug use.


Sirhan Sirhan Denied Parole…

Convicted RFK Assassin Denied Parole

Dressed in a prison denim jacket and blue shirt, Sirhan appeared nervous as he entered the hearing room, and he told the panel his breathing was labored because he’s been fighting valley fever.

His hair now graying and balding after 43 years in prison, a clean-shaven Sirhan spoke for much of the four-hour hearing, answering questions from the parole board about the crime and what he has done to improve himself.

“It’s a horrible nightmare not just for me but for you and the whole country,” Sirhan said of the Kennedy assassination and his other convictions for wounding five persons.

On occasion, Sirhan flashed a gap-toothed smile, but as Prizmich announced the parole denial, Sirhan bit his tongue.

Prizmich said that Sirhan needed to reflect more deeply on the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, which he attended in prison from the mid 1980s to early 1990s. Sirhan said he drank four Tom Collins highballs prior to the Kennedy shooting.

Prizmich also told Sirhan to read books and demonstrate improvement.

AA and The Treatment Industry

I’ve been seeing reviews of The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations around lately, because the Tea Party is using this book, and specifically, the Starfish model, as its organizing principle. The quote that keeps popping up is this:

The title is based on the contrasting biology of spiders, which die when their heads are chopped off, and starfish, which can multiply when any given part is severed — a trait the book’s authors posit is shared by decentralized entities ranging from Alcoholics Anonymous to Al Qaeda to Wikipedia. — Politico


It’s always fascinated me how easy it is to find analogies in nature, for just about any phenomenon. The rhizome and the taproot work well here, too. And I’ve always likened Alcoholics Anonymous to a multi-level marketing outfit, which seem to me to spread like rhizomes. Also, I can definitely see Brendan Koerner’s analogy to an open source program, though it might be more accurate to compare it to a computer virus. I don’t think he could have actually said that, though. AA has it built into its structure to develop both symbiotic and parasitic relationships with outside entities, insinuating itself into every facet of public life in such a way as to maintain its integrity (and by “integrity,” I’m talking mechanics, not character). See, for instance, Bill Wilson’s own vision. Here, he is discussing the reason why AA needs to be receptive to outside agencies, and it is mostly because “most of the work and the money will have to come from elsewhere.”

More than anything, the answer to the problem of alcoholism seems to be in education – education in schoolrooms, in medical colleges, among clergymen and employers, in families, and in the public at large. From cradle to grave, the drunk and the potential alcoholic will have to be completely surrounded by a true and deep understanding and by a continuous barrage of information: the facts about his illness, its symptoms, its grim seriousness.


Now who is going to do all this education? Obviously, it is both a community job and a job for specialists. Individually, we A.A.’s can help, but A.A. as such cannot, and should not, get directly into this field. Therefore, we must rely on other agencies, on outside friends and their willingness to supply great amounts of money and effort – money and effort which will steer the alcoholic toward treatment as never before. – Bill W. “Let’s Be Friendly with Our Friends: Friends on the Alcoholism FrontContinue reading AA and The Treatment Industry

Keep Coming Back! Hallelujah!

A Hanover County woman convicted two years ago of felony child neglect and drunken driving will be spending more time behind bars for probation violations stemming from new convictions and drug use.

Robin Renee Barron faced up to three years and eight months in prison, but this week a Henrico County judge sentenced her to 15 days.

Two years ago, Barron appeared in front of a different Henrico judge and tearfully pleaded for leniency, after she left four of her children in her car while she drank inside a bar. She pleaded no contest to four counts of felony child neglect; driving under the influence; and refusing to take a breath test at the scene.

A judge sentenced Barron to four months in jail and probation. She told the court she was changing her life and would stay out of trouble.

But this week Barron, now 39, was back in Henrico Circuit Court.

Well, I just don’t see how this is possible.

Assistant Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney David A. Stock told Henrico Circuit Judge Daniel T. Balfour that Barron had tested positive for cocaine use in June 2009. And in Hanover, she had run up another series of driving-related arrests including another DUI conviction, Stock said.

Barron, on the stand in tears Thursday, employed the same plea for mercy that had marked her appearance two years earlier.

She told Balfour that she has discovered she is an alcoholic, is attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and has held down a waitressing job for almost a year. She also promised she is a devoted mother.

Her AA sponsor testified on Barron’s behalf, saying Barron has accepted that she is an alcoholic. Barron’s lawyer, Steve Marks, compared Barron’s conversion to the biblical parable of Paul accepting Jesus on the road to Damascus.

He begged the judge not to force her off her road to recovery.

Stock stressed Barron’s same pattern of new convictions after her problems with the law two years ago.

In February 2008, Barron had left her four children in her car and spent the evening drinking at The Playing Field, a sports bar on West Broad Street in Henrico, authorities said. Tests showed her blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit for drivers. Testimony at her sentencing later that year showed that patrons and the manager at the bar tried to stop her from driving off and heard her 8-month-old baby crying inside the vehicle.

Bar patrons called the police and another person followed her as she plowed into a fire hydrant on West End Drive near a fire station. It was 11:30 p.m.

A prosecutor in that case asked for a 10-year sentence, but Circuit Judge George F. Tidey expressed compassion for Barron’s plight and suspended all but four months of a four-year sentence.

“I thought I had it under control, but I know now that it will be with me the rest of my life,” Barron told Tidey at the time, admitting to her alcoholism and noting her attendance at AA meetings. She was in a welfare-to-work program, she said.

[Emphasis mine.]

Alcoholics Anonymous is shameless and unaccountable.

Here’s the whole story.

Keep Coming Back! Predator vs ?

(Hat tip to Speedy.)

Predator Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison

Two contrasting glimpses of a Wisconsin man were presented to a Lake County judge Wednesday.

In one version, James Turuc, 48, was represented as a compassionate man working hard to assist others in Alcoholics Anonymous. In the other version, Turuc was presented as a manipulative predator who took sexual advantage of a troubled teenager.

Judge Fred Foreman sentenced Turuc to 15 years in prison for the criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges of which he was convicted.

“(Turuc) took advantage of a child down on his luck. That child will now be scarred for life,” Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Kleinhubert said.

Four years ago, when the male victim was 14, he was troubled with issues and looking for help. Turuc represented himself as a counselor and took advantage of the young teen to sexually assault him in three separate sex acts in April 2007, Kleinhubert said.

Kleinhubert asked Foreman to impose a 15-year sentence, the maximum possible for the felonies Turuc was convicted of on Dec. 17, 2008.

“The sentence will never give (the victim) his childhood back,” Kleinhubert said.

Assistant Public Defender Kelli Politte asked Foreman to impose the minimum four-year prison sentence. She called seven witnesses, including two family members, to testify to Turuc’s altruistic nature.

“This man is dedicated to helping other people in need. He has led a remarkable life in that capacity,” Politte said.

Read the whole thing.

My name is Cyrus, and I’m… Wait…no.

So, this guy:

On Jan. 12, Shepherd-Oppenheim was arrested and charged with theft, unlawful taking and receiving stolen property after exiting a United Airlines flight from San Francisco.

Police said the University City resident stole a Canon digital camera, a leather makeup case and cash from carry-on bags of fellow passengers.

Was sentenced to 24 AA meetings and to pay $55. His lawyer said: “”Chicken soup – it can’t hurt. I don’t know that it’s needed in this case, but it certainly can’t hurt.”

(Being Cybill Shepherd’s son doesn’t hurt, either.)

Keep Coming Back! It Works!

It really does!

DANVERS — A Beverly woman arrested after a minor fender-bender in downtown Danvers Friday afternoon had a blood-alcohol level of .36 — 41/2 times the legal limit, police said.

Catherine Sullivan, 45, of 12 North Washington St., Beverly, was ordered held on $5,000 cash bail after her arraignment yesterday in Salem District Court on charges of second offense drunken driving and driving after license suspension.


Defense lawyer Patrick Regan said the mother of three had been sober for nine or 10 months and was attending two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a day before the incident Friday.

Keep Coming Back! The Easier, Softer Installment

MOBILE, Ala. — In confessing to murder, Jamie Kellam Letson said she lured 18-year-old Katherine Foster into some woods near the University of South Alabama by asking her to harvest plants for a botany class, according to one man’s testimony Wednesday.

Ricky Charlton, Letson’s friend in Alcoholics Anonymous, said Letson described how she walked into the woods with Foster, pulled out a gun that she’d stolen from her grandmother and shot her fellow college student.

I’d like to interrupt this story to point out that it seems to be a common theme among the criminal element of AA: There’s no spiritual awakening sparkley enough and no amends sincere enough to inspire an actual sense of responsibility and accountability:

The defense has argued that Letson lied and made up the confession as a way to impress Charlton.

Charlton said he met Letson at Alcoholics Anonymous in Pascagoula in 2002 and began helping her through the 12-step recovery process, which includes making amends for past wrongdoing.

“Jamie had told me enough about the murder that I told her to write a letter, and we would take the letter to the graveyard to read the letter over the grave,” Charlton said.

He later went to Pascagoula police to tell investigators what he knew, according to testimony.

The letter, which has been admitted into evidence, begins “Dear Katherine” and includes an apology for taking her life.

Here’s the story.

Here’s a slogan entry for the contest:

A.A. – For When You’re Just Kinda Sorry