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Conviction vs. voluntary compliance. - tent moot crash

Nov. 7th, 2011 03:53 pm Conviction vs. voluntary compliance.

Hi, gang. I need to eat a little crow here (not a lot, but a little).

I'm going to start out by saying that I've gotten accustomed, in my historic dealings with Bit of Earth people (in particular, Amy, Abbey, and Cherie) to a rather vehement denial of the facts. I hope anyone who has followed this story, here or in the book, can recognize that Amy Player told a lot of lies, and when she got caught in them, she backpedaled with tremendous effort. Even to the point of writing up fake legal documents (and sending them to the entire cast of the LOTR films) in which she not only denied the truth, she made up additional lies in an effort to deflect blame onto me.

Given that I was dealing with someone who would compose arguments made of frank lies, there were times, quite a few, even, when I took verbal shortcuts. Not in order to be deceptive, but because the full legally qualified 100% correct statement was too long and cumbersome. I've learned a lot of things about the justice system, and one of them is that there are a surprising number of nuances around the concept of guilt and innocence. Way more than you'd think, by watching TV.

Now those shortcuts are coming to bite me on the butt, because even though they were essentially correct, they weren't absolutely correct. So, on to the crow eating:

In the past, even so recently as on Abbey's blog, I've stated that she and Amy were convicted of operating a fraudulent charity. That was shorthand, and in the strictest legal sense it wasn't correct.

Abbey and Amy were issued a document by the Oregon Dept. of Justice. This document was called an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance. In the document, the DOJ listed things that were done by and for the "charity," Bit of Earth, things which were illegal. The document further required them to pay a fine AND to agree, in writing, never to solicit funds for any charity ever again in the State of Oregon.

Finally the document gave Abbey and Amy two choices:

1) They could sign this document, pay the fine, and walk away.
2) They could claim to be innocent of the deeds listed in the document, at which time the DOJ would take them to court and let a judge rule on whether they were guilty or not.

Amy and Abbey signed the document and paid the fine.

Were they convicted of a crime? No. To be convicted, you have to go to court and a judge and jury look at the evidence and decide whether you're guilty. Abbey and Amy chose to avoid the courtroom by voluntarily accepting the conditions set by the DOJ.

Were they innocent? No. Again, the matter of guilt and innocence, in the legal sense, has to be determined in a courtroom. Because the courtroom was avoided, they were neither convicted nor exonerated of committing crimes.

Were they busted? Fuck yeah! The DOJ gave them a chance to either explain themselves or accept punishment, and they accepted punishment. If that's not busted, I don't know what is.

To put another way: if you've ever had a speeding ticket, you probably noticed how the ticket itself says that you can plead guilty (and pay the fine and be done), innocent (and go to court to contest the ticket), or nolo contendre (in which you also pay the fine and be done BUT you are not admitting guilt). I think the Assurance was issued with the same sort of spirit as a Nolo Contendre option. It avoids the time and expense of a trial, and the "black mark" of a guilty verdict--but you're still busted for speeding.

On Abbey's blog, I left a post about her "conviction" by the DOJ. Because both Abbey and Amy have denied any wrongdoing in the past, I expected more of the same, so I felt justified in taking shortcuts. If there was going to be denial, it might as well be denial of the Abridged Version. I mean, come on, if I'd said, "you were issued an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance from the DOJ, which you signed," well, first of all most people would have no earthly idea what that meant, and 2nd of all, I'm not even sure which verb to put the "Didn't" in front of, to turn that statement into a denial!

Not to mention that, "You were convicted, In Yer FACE!" just plain sounds better than "You were issued an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance from the DOJ, which you signed, In Yer FACE!"
Given that I expected to hear "I never did anything wrong, you evil persecuting meanie," it was more efficient all around to just sum it up with "convicted."

However, Abbey surprised me--and pleasantly so--by not denying anything. She 'fessed up to receiving that document from the DOJ. Furthermore, Abbey correctly pointed out that they were never convicted.

So, I want to apologize for using the wrong language in describing the outcome from the Dept. of Justice. Busted, but not convicted. Thanks for understanding.

10 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry


Date:November 8th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
I have to say that I'm very proud of you both. Abbey, because I know it could not have been easy to confront this. When you're seeking forgiveness, it can be risky to correct the person whose grace you desire. Turi, because is can not have been easy to admit this. I like what I see.

OK, enough sunshine. Must select dark icon.
Date:November 8th, 2011 05:01 am (UTC)
Interesting. Hey, can you comment on the difference between guilty and nolo contendre? I've always wondered about that. I get that it means "no contest," but A) how is that different from "guilty," and B) why do they even bother with the option?
Date:November 8th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
Very interesting! Wow, so essentially you can be "convicted" without being "guilty as charged." I can see why that makes a difference if you have both criminal and civil charges against you. Makes sense. However, in terms of the layman's understanding of the justice system... woof, it sure isn't black-and-white. Thanks for 'splainin!
Date:November 8th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
I learned a little more about this with the recent release of the three young men known as the West Memphis 3. They had served 18 years for murder; one of them was on death row awaiting the last hearing on his case when the state of Arkansas agreed to release them in exchange for an Alford plea. In this case, it prevents them from any action against the state and local law enforcement for the mishandling of their case. It also allows the state to hold conditions and restrictions over their heads, at least for awhile. Very not-black-and-white.
Date:November 8th, 2011 02:08 am (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying. We were absolutely "busted," and as I said on one of my posts (one of the Questions from a DAYDian posts...in the comments, I think?) that I wish that someone had properly convicted Andrew. I would rather have had a black mark on my record and gotten out (I hope) than have continued to chug his Kool-aid. And Cherie would have gotten out at that point, as she's pointed out herself.

BTW and FWIW, I understand exactly what you mean by "verbal shortcuts." I have used them many times myself. Which is why my blog and entries have been so fecking long; I can't risk any misunderstandings when I'm trying to clarify such a pack of lies...
Date:November 8th, 2011 02:09 am (UTC)
And I totally forgot to mention the fine on my blog. I actually just forgot it happened!
Date:November 8th, 2011 04:15 am (UTC)
Well done for writing this!
Date:November 9th, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC)
This is so beautiful to watch unfold! <3
Date:November 11th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
Hi Turi,

I get here via Fandom_Wank, where I understand you have kind of a bad name, which makes me sad. I've been reading your blog for years now, since I think 2008? and I've commented a couple of times before though I don't expect you to remember that :D Given the scope of Andy's actions, I think the people who accuse you of hanging onto a personal grudge don't really get it.

Anyway, I read through Abbey's blog and her entries and having reached "Operation Catch and Release" I'm glad to see that you two are more or less reconciled. I wanted to say, I can understand why neither of you were able to fall weeping into one another's arms. It only makes sense. There is some kind of public misconception that if you are mad at someone, and they publically say "Mea culpa, I effed up", even if they only address the tip of the iceberg, you are supposed to let go of EVERYTHING and have it all be smiles.

I am guilty of assuming that with someone I had wronged on a MUCH smaller scale, years ago. I wrote to her and apologized, and she accepted, and we continued to talk things out - and it turned very, VERY ugly. She still had (many, good) reasons to be angry with me that I had not addressed. I was insulted that she was still angry, and refused to accept responsibility for those. We parted badly and haven't really spoken since (other than impersonal communications), despite my very good intentions - I wasn't as mature and humbled as I believed myself to be. Because of how badly it went I haven't had the courage to contact her again with a more sincere apology, even though it's been 12-13 years now. But I understand now why she reacted that way and how selfish I was being.

Abbey is, thankfully, more mature than I was. And I don't blame you for being skeptical of her at first, and suspecting that her story might have been self-serving - after all, if it had been Andrew, that would've been the case. And although Abbey's story and apology had much more sincerity than anything Andrew is capable of writing, I think it's natural that you would miss that at first. You're human with emotions, expectations, and a history. So is Abbey. I think it's far more telling that you both spoke privately as adults and have continued to come to a place of increased understanding.

Sorry if I'm making untrue assumptions about where you were coming from. All I mean is, it makes sense to me, and I am just glad to see people move on from the past (and glad to see that people *can* move on. Except Andy, which is its own story).
Date:November 11th, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC)
Hi, Zebeckras. Thanks for speaking up--those were some nice things to hear. I wouldn't say Abbey and I are BFFs at this point, but it is very nice to see the person I met (and liked and trusted) coming back to the surface.

Dunno what to tell you about your former friend... it does seem like it'd be a lot harder to try a 2nd apology after the first one went down in flames. That may be a relationship where you have to agree to disagree, so to speak. If you want to try, just make sure this time you absolutely put on your A-game, be painfully honest, and include the whole shootin' match. Even if you don't actually send the letter or make the call, writing it all out might help you feel better.

*giggle* You could comfort yourself as you do it with the mantra, "Hey, at least I'm not as bad as Amy Player." >-P