Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 

Addressing the Blnd Spot

Our culture currently has a very large blind spot when it comes to addiction, and that's one of the things I'm trying to combat here. Now that the KPD have moved against the folks involved in Henry's overdose and death, this is becoming Katie's primary goal as well. Far too many believe that addiction is a choice, and that if we believe in personal accountability, then we must hold addicts solely responsible for the consequences of their addiction. This short sighted and logically flawed approach lies at the heart of the problems Katie had with getting anybody to investigate Henry's death by overdose.

That's why I'm promoting Michelle's comment from this post. Her comment illustrates that blind spot perfectly. I'm going to fisk the comment, not to make Michelle look bad, or to run her down in any way, but to try and expose that blind spot, shine some light into that darkness, and by doing so, dispel it.

What happened to Henry is sad. It could happen to any body's child--mine, yours, anybody's. But my problem with Ms. Granju is she refuses to accept the reality that Henry made choices in his life and those choices led to his death.

This is categorically untrue. Katie's actions prior to Henry's death shows that she held him accountable for his actions. Through the years, she tried everything to get Henry off of drugs, going so far as to forbid him from being in the family home while he was using. She showed him that there were going to be consequences for his choices. When Henry and his girlfriend were arrested, she didn't bail him out, hoping that the stay in jail would lead to rehab, drug counseling, or other forms of intervention. And again, she was allowing him to deal with the consequences of his choices. Far from refusing to accept the reality of Henry's choices, dealing with the consequences of those choices was the defining factor in the Granju family household for the last couple of years of Henry's life.
In blaming the drug dealer, she absolves Henry of the choices he made as an adult.

This is a logical fallacy. Apportioning responsibility is not a zero sum or binary game. To say that other people bear responsibility for Henry's death does not in any way absolve Henry of his responsibility. Conversely, holding Henry accountable for his choices does not absolve the people who took advantage of him from their responsibility for their actions.

Let's look at this another way. Take the case of a young girl who ran away from home. She was being abused at home, and made a desperate choice to run away to escape the abuse. Young and impressionable, instead of going to a woman's shelter or church home or other resource, she lights out on her own, deciding she'll be a star in the big city. She gets off the bus and realizes she has no place to go, no freinds, and no money. She's alone and scared.

What happens next is so predictable, it's almost a cliche. A predator has the bus station staked out, looking for vulnerable girls like her. She's been warned her whole life about men like him, but she's alone, frightened, and still a little rebellious. She chooses to go with him, accepting his offer of food and shelter. She believes she can stay there just for the night, and then move on, without getting trapped.

But he's older, smarter, and well practiced. He takes care of her for the might, leaves her alone, lulls her into a sense of security. She stays another night. There's a party and she chooses to stay and party with her new friends. They tell her it's okay to try a line of this or a snort of that. She's in the big city now; everybody does it. Desperate to fit in, she goes along. Within a few days, she's trapped. Bad things begin to happen to her, and she is told that after what she's done, there's nobody that would want her, certainly not her parents. Only her new family wants her, accepts her.

So, she made every choice. She was never forced, never faced with violence, never actively coerced.

Does she bear the full responsibility of her choices? Does the fact that she ran away absolve the abuser at home of their responsibility? Does the fact that she chose to go with the pimp absolve him of knowingly preying on her vulnerability? Does her choice to use drugs absolve the people around her from manipulating her into a situation where the only realistic choice was to go along?

Obviously not.

Just because she made bad choices does not absolve the people who manipulated her into making those choices, who took advantage of her vulnerability from their responsibility. By the same token, Henry may have chosen to take drugs, but that does not give anybody else the right to manipulate him, to assault him, to drug him, and ultimately, to kill him. His status as a drug user/dealer did not make it open season on him. He still had the full protection of the law.

And that is what Katie and I, and so many others, are fighting for.


He was not an innocent child, playing in the sandbox when a drug dealer forced him to take illegal drugs. He was a hard core addict who had spent a significant time in rehab and CHOSE to go back to using drugs. Henry had a multitude of options if he wanted to stop using drugs. He had a family that would have done anything to help, which many addicts do not have. He CHOSE not to avail himself of those options and elected to continue to use.

This section shows absolutely zero understanding about addiction. The addict doesn't chose to continue using; the addict is compelled to continue using or else suffer debilitating physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, followed by a lifetime of abstinence maintained through rigorous self control.

A daunting prospect to say the least.

I say this as the son of an alcoholic father. I know that Dad would have stopped drinking if he could; in the end, the bottle's grip was stronger than his grip on life. He may have chosen to take the first drink; after that, his ability to chose was impaired by his addiction.

This impairment is even more profound in the drug addict, particularly so when opiates are involved. Addiction creates a self reinforcing cycle, a sort of positive feedback loop that traps the addict in a downward spiral. There's a reason why most addicts relapse, and so very few ever get clean and stay clean. You take a young man, whose brain has not yet fully developed the ability to make reasoned choices. He makes a bad choice. For many kids, no big deal; they learn from the mistake, and go on with the rest of their lives. But in some case, there's a predisposition to addiction. There is a genetic component to addiction, and that's the major reason why I've never drank. For those with that predisposition, that first drink, the first joint, the first line of coke sets into motion a sequence of events every bit as destructive and unstoppable as a single rock fall that triggers a landslide.

Even when an addict has gone through rehab, an opiate addict's brain chemistry is still off kilter for years. Their pain receptors are screwed up; their emotions are volatile, and their ability to reason remains impaired, sometimes permanently. While these are consequences of the original choice, should we still hold them fully accountable for decisions made when they are impaired?

Of course not. To do so flies in the face of both logic and compassion.
This isn't about fear that my child will use drugs. It is about the fact that so many in society refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. There is no personal accountability.

Dying from an overdose is not accountability, unless you think that taking drugs is a capital offense. Had Henry been arrested for using or dealing; he would have served prison time, demonstrating that the system and his parents held him accountable for his actions. His death came through the illegal actions of others, as well as his own. You want to hold him accountable for his actions, but let the others off scott free for theirs.

Henry killed Henry. He chose to take drugs. He knew the risks. In fact, he googled whether 80mgs of methadone was a high dose before he took it and discovered it was. Despite this knowledge, he took it. Chose to take it, not forced to take it.

Already addressed in the comments. Your timeline is incorrect.

I think that many of the comments by the community reflect this sentiment--that Ms. Granju does not want to face the fact that Henry made the choices he did, and those choices led to his death. I am sorry for Ms. Granju's loss, but this does not change the facts.


As I have shown, your grasp of the facts is incomplete. You address only one side of the equation, and prefer to ignore the other. I choose to believe that you are not purposely being hateful, but your inability to accept the truth and your constant desire to refute the idea that those who took advantage of Henry have some responsibility for his death are hurtful. You insist that Katie is denying Henry's responsibility when she has specifically stated the opposite several times. You call her to account for a position she does not hold, showing that you have not read her posts, or that you have read them, and believe she is lying. That is what is hurtful.

Again, I didn't single out Michelle to embarrass or hurt her, but to point out a series of very common misunderstandings about Henry's case in specific, and the nature of addiction in general. My hope is that by reading through this post, some folks may gain a better understanding of the battles fought by addicts, both against their addictions, and the people who prey on their vulnerability.

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rich, you are a loyal and good friend to katie, and she is lucky to have you as one. I appreciate the overall tone of this post, as opposed to one yesterday where the person commenting started out with the line "man, you can't fix stupid". words like that add nothing to the conversation, and are actually an example of the type of mean spiritedness you were writing about.

i agree with what you say, that addiction does rewire the brain, there is a genetic component involved, noone chooses to be an addict or alcoholic. but there is much we do not know, and the truth remains that many many addicts and alcoholics do remain clean and sober. that is the part that is baffling to me, it absolutely can be done, so we can't absolve the person with the addiction from this fact either (and I am not saying that you or katie have done that). if it totally rewired the brain, if the addict or alcoholic had no choice whatsoever, there wouldn't be those who can, and have, stopped. so although they don't choose to be an addict, and yes, have a compulsion to drink or drug, and have a pleasure/reward system that is messed up, my question has always been, then why can some quit? From what I have heard from many addicts and alcoholics (and it has been over 10 years and hundreds, if not thousands of hours of listening to them), is they have to hold themselves accountable for making the decision to do the "next right thing". It is hard and painful and difficult, but so many of them do that.

i think in both Henry and my son's case, their age was a negative for them. they became addicted when they were very young, and that is, from what I have read and heard, the hardest subset to help. I was sharing at a meeting on saturday that I will never understand why some people get 1,000 chances to recover, and finally do, and some people, like my son, run out of time before they get a chance to really understand what is going on. Yet, there are many many young people in our community who are very active in their recovery, who quit at 17, at 20, at 22. So there must be something inside each individual that plays a big part in this. It is indeed, cunning, powerful and baffling.
Posted by geri a  on  10/05  at  07:30 AM

When someone keeps saying something that is factually incorrect, and is given the correct information, and then keeps on saying the same thing ... that's stupid. I call a spade a spade. Can you dig it?

So, if they are stuck on saying the same incorrect thing, despite being corrected ... they are stuck on stupid. Any conversation was halted when they refused to concede to the truth.
Posted by LissaKay  on  10/05  at  12:44 PM

You are expressing really inaccurate information about addiction, which, even if true would apply to the dealers. I too wonder about why all the "spin."
If an addict is not responsible, then an addicted dealer is not.

Here is some information about addiction. You should get in touch with these people: http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=12132

And read before adding to the misinformation. Or interview recovered addicts to see how your "addicts cannot make choices" talk flies. I'd take recovered addicts to be absolute experts on this matter.

I just don't get why you are going down this clearly false (deliberately?) route. The case at hand aside.
Posted by Addiction  on  10/05  at  12:51 PM

<blockquote>... see how your "addicts cannot make choices" talk flies.</blockquote>

Where did Rich say this? I cannot find the quoted statement in any of his posts. I believe what he said is that the addicts' and alcoholics' ability to choose is IMPAIRED.
Posted by LissaKay  on  10/05  at  01:09 PM

@Lissakay-well since you want to talk about facts, and only facts, do you, without doubt, know for a fact that henry didn't google methadone and then take it? were you there? did you witness this? no, you weren't. you are taking, as fact, what his friends said. friends who may or may not have their own interests and hides to protect. I cannot say, for a fact, what came first here. i am writing this as an example of how we come to consider something as fact that we have not witnessed. We believe one person, or another, based on a variety of things, personal relationship, past history of truth telling, etc. I, personally, do believe henry's friends, but I can't say for a fact that is what happened.

@addiction-I understand what you are saying. and yes, the ones who will have the most answers on this are indeed, recovered addicts. not the families of, or the friends of, but the recovered addicts and alcoholics themselves. not active or still using, but those with some recovery under their belts, those are the people I listen to when I try to understand, which is, quite often, a pretty incomprehensible illness.
Posted by geri a  on  10/05  at  01:26 PM

Geri ... Michelle made a statement of fact, that I know to be incorrect - that Katie "refuses to accept the reality that Henry made choices in his life and those choices led to his death."

I corrected her on that. Katie does indeed very much accept what Henry did. Michelle repeated it again, despite the corrections. I call that stupid. I also call it abusive. It happens again, and Michelle will not post comments here anymore.

She is also saying that because Henry's behavior and actions were wrong, he alone bears the responsibility for his death, and no one else should be held accountable, no matter their own criminal activity. Yeah ... sorry, that's pretty darn stupid.

As for the sequence of events, Michelle is plainly stating as fact something that no one stated, nor is in evidence from any source. None of Henry's friends EVER said he took the methadone after he researched it. The two friends with whom Henry was staying that day have no reason to lie, and there is no other source - aside from Harper and Houser - that could give contrary information. So she is either making it up, to try to show how irresponsible Henry was and further her claim that he and only he caused his death and no one else, no matter how complicit, should be held criminally liable Or she has access to a source of information she has not shared with us.
Posted by LissaKay  on  10/05  at  01:48 PM

@lissakay-okay, i can see a little better where you are coming from, but i still don't agree with calling people stupid or other names because they don't agree with me. but as you said, it is your blog, and you can do what you want on it. take good care. and i am very very sorry about your brother. if i may ask, was the person who killed him caught and convicted?
Posted by geri a  on  10/05  at  02:20 PM

I doubt whether recovered addicts should be considered either (1) a representative sampling of the larger population of people with addictions; or (2) a group endowed with topical expertise by virtue of their positive outcomes.

Please understand that I mean no disrespect to recovered addicts; there are several in my own family and I know they have struggled. But when someone points out the success of recovered addicts as an excuse for holding drug users "personally accountable" for their inability to quit... I want to explain to them the logical error of "survivorship bias."

Closer examination is warranted.
Posted by Luke  on  10/05  at  05:06 PM

I just wanted you to know that I am neither embarrassed nor upset that you chose to respond to my comments. I continue to stand by my statement that, if you do drugs after you spend 9 months in rehab, you have assumed the risk of bad things happening to you, up to and including death.

Additionally, I do believe that I had already corrected myself regarding the timeline in which Henry googled the dose of Methadone. My second comment specifically stated that regardless of whether he googled it before or after taking it, he still became aware that it was a lethal dose and did not do anything to get himself help.

And, LissaKay, the fact that you continue to call me stupid for engaging in a discussion wherein I do not agree with you says more about you than it does about me. If that is the best you can do, maybe you should consider another profession besides writing.
Posted by Michelle  on  10/10  at  05:18 PM

First of all, Michelle.... it is what you said - which was FACTUALLY INCORRECT and HURTFUL to a mother who has lost her child, repeating that, even after being informed that it is wrong, insisting even, that your statement was correct - is to what I was referring. Sorry that your sensibilities are so delicate that you took such great offense to being corrected.

Secondly, as my husband has pointed out, it is not a case of Henry's fault versus Harper and Houser's fault. It is both. Henry paid the ultimate price for his part. There still can be and should be consequences for Harper and Houser as well for their criminal activity.

Last, writing is not my profession. I have a real job.
Posted by LissaKay  on  10/10  at  07:14 PM

LissaKay, I am not the one shouting in ALL CAPS. I specifically said that I was not upset, so I have no idea what "delicate sensibilities" to which you are referring. I have not engaged in name calling, been angry or offensive, or responded to your statements with anything less than respect. Which is more than you can say.

And I am sure writers around the world are thrilled to know that you consider their profession not a "real job." But that does explain a few things about your responses.

Anyway, I am sorry for the Granju family. I have nothing but sympathy for his mother. And I still stand by my beliefs.
Posted by Michelle  on  10/11  at  01:46 PM

OK, Michelle, then prove your point ... quote Katie where she has said anything that would indicate that she holds Henry to be blameless in the events leading up to his death. Back up your opinion with facts.

Oh, and BTW, using upper case for a word or two is EMPHASIS, it's not shouting. This is something the newbiest of internet newbies knows.

So, again, to reiterate my point ... what you said about Katie is not only WRONG, it is HURTFUL. Get it? It's also unnecessary to this discussion. She might allow such attacks upon herself and her son at her place, but I do not allow it here. Stay on topic or hit the road.
Posted by LissaKay  on  10/11  at  02:08 PM

I have been staying on topic. You have been the one calling names. As for the capitalization, I fail to see how it is necessary to make your point. Speaking like a normal, adult person generally gets better results. However, in response to your questions, I offer the following:

It is very simple. When you are an adult, either you are responsible for your actions, or you are not. It's black and white. By attempting to hold other people responsible for the intentional acts of one individual, you are absolving that individual of responsibility.

Unless the drug dealer administers the drug to the user by injecting them or drugging them without their consent, the person who placed the drug in their mouth or injected or smoked the drug is responsible for consuming the drug.

In the scenario above outlined by your husband (?), a young girl gets off a bus and is preyed upon by a pimp. She begins prostituting herself and using drugs. Is she responsible at any time? The answer is that it depends on the age of the girl. If she is 12, no. If she is 18, yes.

Let's not forget, Henry was a long-standing drug user. He didn't just wander in from a farm in Kansas where he never saw drugs before. He was an active drug user for years before he died. He went to rehab where I am sure he was educated as to the risks. And he certainly wasn't a teenager abused by his parents and forced into the streets. He could have chosen to go home at any time.

The following are examples of responsibility:

A legal adult gets drunk and drives into a tree, killing himself. Is he responsible? Of course.

Assume that a bar served him alcohol knowing he is intoxicated and he drives into a tree, killing himself. Is he responsible? Yes. In my state, the bar would be statutorily immune from criminal and civil liability.

In fact, if the drunk driver who had been served at the bar killed other people, the bar would still be statutorily immune from both criminal and civil liability. We do not have dram shop cases in California.

As for "diminished capacity," i.e., the Twinkie defense--my criminal law professor's explanation of this was "Stupid defense. Not permitted in civilized jurisdictions." In California, there is no diminished capacity defense in criminal court. You can be incompetent to stand trial, but you can be forcibly medicated until you are competent. Even being insane and being unable to understand the difference between right and wrong does not absolve you of responsibility.

In civil lawsuits, there is comparative negligence. In other words, if I am crossing against the light in the dark, but the person who runs me over is drunk, a jury could easily apportion fault on my part as 100% because I assumed the risk in that I engaged in a dangerous activity--crossing against the light in the dark. The other driver may be arrested for drunk driving, but in my experience, there is no liability for the death of the person who was killed.

If an armed robber goes into a store and pulls a gun, and the owner shoots the robber in the head, is the store owner at fault? No, the armed robber is for engaging in an illegal activity that is inherently dangerous.

Attempting to hold other individuals responsible (either morally or criminally), for the death of Henry, in my opinion and obviously the opinion of many others in the Knoxville area, is excusing the choices that Henry made to continue to use drugs.

Finally, I still don't see what part of what I am saying is "hurtful" or "hateful." Hateful would be saying something like "the only good junkie is a dead junkie." That is not what I said, or even implied. The fact that you inferred that my disagreement with your opinion was somehow cheering Henry's death is your issue, not mine. The loss of his life is clearly a tragedy for his family. But that doesn't make it anybody's fault besides Henry's

I am sure that Ms. Granju did everything possible to help Henry get off drugs. His death is not her fault, and she is not responsible. We all wish we can save the self-destructive people in our lives. Sometimes we can't. But, at the end of the day, people make their own choices. They may be stupid, criminal, fucked up choices. But they are their choices.

And although I am in California, my brother lives close to the Knoxville area. Because I read his newspaper, this is how I came across this story. Unfortunately, you probably don't want to know his opinion on the subject as it would be hurtful to Ms. Granju and her family.
Posted by Michelle  on  10/12  at  01:46 AM

<blockquote>In the scenario above outlined by your husband (?), a young girl gets off a bus and is preyed upon by a pimp. She begins prostituting herself and using drugs. Is she responsible at any time? The answer is that it depends on the age of the girl. If she is 12, no. If she is 18, yes. </blockquote>

Why do we hold her to a different level of accountability based on her age? Is it because the law, even in California, recognizes that immature brains are not mature enough to recognize the full consequences of their decisions? Is it also because we recognize the power differential between a fully matured adult, and an immature child? If so, then California criminal law certainly does recognize that accountability is dependent on the mental state of the perpetrator.

In California civil law, a minor cannot enter into a binding contract for the same reason, unless he or she has first been adjudicated as independent. Also, California law recognizes the mentally infirm as incapable of making sound decisions and appoints legal guardians to make those decisions for them. And once guardianship is appointed, the person is not allowed to enter into contracts, nor are they held bound by any contracts they make while they are in a guardianship status.

In short, both civil and criminal law in California recognizes that accountability is affected by the mental status of the individual.

If you are quoting your criminal law professor accurately, then I have to wonder a few things. If a man breaks into my home and I beat him to death with a baseball bat, whether he is armed or not, am I innocent of his death since he was in my home illegally?

I'm betting the answer is no, even in California.

If I take a girl out on a date, purposely get her drunk, and take advantage of her, am I guilty of rape? According to your statements, I wouldn't be because she freely engaged in the activity that removed her ability to consent.

If I sideswipe a car parked illegally, do I owe damages to the owner? According to your theory, I do not, because by parking illegally, he made the choice that resulted in his car being damaged.

In each of these cases, despite the fact that the other person involved acted illegally, I am still accountable for my actions if I break the law in response.
<blockquote>Attempting to hold other individuals responsible (either morally or criminally), for the death of Henry, in my opinion and obviously the opinion of many others in the Knoxville area, is excusing the choices that Henry made to continue to use drugs. </blockquote>
This is a false statement, ethically and legally. Henry chose to use drugs. As a result of that choice, he could have been arrested, faced jail time, wrecked his health, and possibly died. Those are the risks associated with his behavior. On the other hand, just as in your analogy, where you admit the drunk driver is still guilty of drunk driving (and manslaughter pretty much everywhere except California, if you are citing the law properly) the people who assaulted Henry and robbed him are still guilty of assault. The people who gave him the drugs are still guilty of trafficking. And if it can be proven that the drugs given to Henry by Harper and Houser caused his overdose and subsequent death, then under Tennessee Law, they are guilty of second degree murder.

These crimes are all independent of whether Henry was a drug user, addict or dealer. They are the the results of independent actions taken by adults. If Henry is to be held accountable for his actions, <i>and there is nobody saying he shouldn't have been</i>, then surely these folks should be held accountable as well.

That's the point that Katie is fighting for, and it is clear under the law that she is right. Unfortunately, our current culture doesn't place a high value on enforcing the law when the victim is a drug user and our judicial system reflects that.

Tell me Michelle, do the police have the authority to pick and choose which laws they enforce, and which ones they let slide? If so, what does this do to equal treatment under the law?

As for your hurtful comments, your position is that Henry is solely responsible for his death, and that Katie is trying to deny that reality by blaming others. That is a gross mischaracterization of her position, as has been pointed out to you many times before. Katie is not trying to lessen Henry's culpability; she's trying to make sure that predators are held accountable for their own actions. This is born out by her stance since Harper and Houser have been arrested. While she still would like for charges related to Henry's death to be filed, she's mostly content with the fact that they are off the streets, in jail, and facing fairly heavy drug trafficking charges. Her primary focus has shifted from prosecution of these specific predators to raising funds for the charity she founded in Henry's name, to provide money to send other teens to rehab.
Posted by Rich Hailey  on  10/12  at  10:37 PM

Michelle, one last question. If California law ays that accoutability rests solely with the person who acted, then how is it that Michael Jackson's docor is being prosecuted for manslaughter? Not a civil charge of malpractice, but a criminal charge of manslaughter.

Jackson chose to take the drugs given to him by the doctor. He made the choice; he died, It's his fault. By your description of California law, this trial should ot even be happening.
Posted by rich Hailey  on  10/12  at  11:35 PM

Obviously the law recognizes difference between minors and adults. That is why juveniles adjudicated in juvenile court generally have their cases sealed once they turn 21 (the exception being sex crimes, of course). But Henry was not a minor. He was 18. Legally responsible for his own actions.

With regard to any mental incapacity by Henry, there is no evidence that anyone attempted to have themselves appointed as Guardian ad Litum on his behalf. A review of his text messages over the time period before his death shows that he was actively pursuing customers to purchase his drugs, that he was able to actively seek shelter and that he was mentally competent. There is nothing in any of his medical records to demonstrate that he was mentally unable to care for himself. Again, there is a difference between the choice not to obtain employment and obtain food and shelter, and the inability to do so due to mental incapacity. There is no evidence that Henry suffered from any mental deficits that would prohibit him from caring for himself. Unfortunately, courts do not appoint a GAL for legal adults simply because they are addicted to drugs (well, except for Brittney Spears?). But, in the real world, you can only have a GAL appointed if you petition the court and show that the individual is mentally incompetent to care for his or her most basic needs or suffer from a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia. I do not believe Henry suffered from a mental illness.

It is true that minors cannot enter into contracts, but again, Henry was a legal adult.

In response to your analogies, each of them presented are inopposite to the instant case. In Henry's case, there is no evidence that he was forcibly administered drugs. In fact, the evidence shows that he willingly ingested the drugs.

A girl being raped does not actively participate in her rape. A car parked illegally does not actively participate in being sideswiped. However, if the car suddenly leapt out in front of the approaching vehicle, it would be an assumption of the risk.

As for beating a burglar to death, that would probably be illegal unless you could show that you were in fear of your life or the life of someone else. In that scenario, I would suggest shooting them and making sure you shot them in the chest (or head) at close range. You would have an easier time showing that you were in imminent danger, thereby acting in self defense.

With regard to drunk drivers, they would be guilty of vehicular homicide if they killed someone. However, in the examples I gave, it was that a bar that sold alcohol to someone would be immune if the drunk driver. California case law has held that the consumption of alcohol, and not the serving of alcohol, is the proximate cause in the case of an accident. Thus, the sale of alcohol by bars and liquor stores in California is not considered to be the cause of an automobile accident.

This in analogous to Henry's case. Henry voluntarily consumed the drugs that killed him. His actions in consuming the drugs were the proximate cause of his death. I agree that the dealers would be guilty of selling drugs. But they are not guilty of murder as the sale of drugs were not the proximate cause of Henry's death, his consumption of the drugs was.

I wasn't aware we were discussing the battery (which is a more accurate description since assault is the fear of an unwelcome touching and battery is the actual unwelcome touching), since it has been agreed upon that this was not the cause of his death. However, Henry did not report that he had been the victim of the assault to police prior to his death. While the individuals admitted to assaulting Henry, he himself did not report the crime in the 24 hours prior to being admitted to the hospital. Clearly he wasn't interested in pursuing criminal charges against these individuals. I believe his response was to threaten the thieves that stole his drugs with revenge of some sort if they were not returned.

In my office we had a teenager (an actual minor) who was attending a football game and was beaten by 4-5 adult males. He died of a skull fracture and a massive brain bleed. The district attorney declined to prosecute since they could not prove who had dealt the fatal blow. With each person point the finger at the other, they could not win.

I understand that TN has a second degree murder statute for individuals who supply drugs to an individual who later dies of those drugs. The problem with this statute is that there is no evidence as to what drugs Henry consumed, who provided them, when he took them, how many he took, etc. The State has the burden of proof in a criminal case. The defendant only has to show reasonable doubt in order to be found not guilty. In light of Henry's obvious drug activity in the 24 hours before his hospitalization, I don't know how this could possibly be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof on the State is more than 75% sure. In civil cases, it is only "more likely than not"--51%.

Actually, in response to your last question, Michael Jackson's doctor is being prosecuted for actively injecting him with propofol. The defense is claiming that Michael injected himself. Which follows exactly what I have been saying. If Michael Jackson actively injected the propofol himself, then the doctor did not administer the fatal dose and he would be found not guilty. It would, however, be malpractice to administer propofol outside of a hospital setting and I anticipate that he will lose his license as a result, is he hasn't already.

I applaud Ms. Granju's efforts to raise money to allow more drug addicts to obtain drug treatment. But Henry did not have this problem. He attended inpatient rehab for 9 months prior to his death and chose to leave when he was 18. I am quite sure that if he had asked to attend rehab again, his family would have done whatever they could to make that happen. As I have repeatedly said, Henry had so many more options than many addicts--a loving family that would do anything to help him, the financial ability to attend treatment, parents that wanted him to get clean and live at home, other family that was willing to allow him to stay with them despite his active drug use, and all the encouragement of his brothers, sisters, family and friends to get clean. Ask any addict on the street and I can guarantee maybe 25% had the support and options that Henry did.

At this point, I don't see what else there is to do except to agree to disagree. I have had the benefit of 15 years in the legal system and I have yet to meet an addict that didn't admit responsibility for their drug use. They may use excuses like a bad childhood, drug addicted parent, whatever. But when you ask them whether the use of drugs was their choice or whether they were forced to use drugs, I have never had one say that they were coerced in any way.
Posted by Michelle  on  10/13  at  12:45 AM

Michelle. Focus!

You said:
<blockquote>But my problem with Ms. Granju is she refuses to accept the reality that Henry made choices in his life and those choices led to his death. In blaming the drug dealer, she absolves Henry of the choices he made as an adult.</blockquote>

I asked you to show us exactly where Katie made any such statement or indicated that she holds Henry blameless in either his addiction or his death. Thus far, you have not done so. That is the statement to which I, as well as many other, take exception. You can hold that opinion, but when you publicly make that assertion and get called out on it because you have no factual basis for it, either put up or shut up - and apologize to Katie.
Posted by LissaKay  on  10/13  at  08:22 AM

Michelle, I'm going to make this simple. Under Tennessee Law, as you noted, supplying drugs that result in a fatal overdose is second degree murder. If it can be proven that Harper/Houser provided the drugs illegally to Henry, should they be arrested, tried, and if convicted, sentenced to jail time?
Posted by Rich Hailey  on  10/13  at  09:48 AM

LissaKay, again with the rudeness? I was responding to your husband's post. He had taken it off topic into a philosophical discussion rather than a specific one.

Here is my response again (since you seem to appreciate all caps):

IT IS VERY SIMPLE. WHEN YOU ARE AN ADULT, EITHER YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS, OR YOU ARE NOT. IT'S BLACK AND WHITE. BY ATTEMPTING TO HOLD OTHER PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INTENTIONAL ACTS OF ONE INDIVIDUAL, YOU ARE ABSOLVING THAT INDIVIDUAL OF RESPONSIBILITY.

I don't know how much more clear I can make it for you. I have tried to break it down into baby steps for you. I have tried to give you examples. The only explanation for your failure to understand is that you don't want to.

I guess, as you previously said, you can't fix stupid. And this has now devolved into one of the stupidest discussions I have ever had. You all can go back to whatever it is you do, I am moving on.
Posted by Michelle  on  10/13  at  11:35 AM

Evading the question yet again. I figured you'd do that <b>again</b>. (Is that a less offensive method of text emphasis for you?)

So, in the end, what we have here is an attack upon and slander of the mother of a deceased child. When called on it, Michelle evades questions and won't even stand behind her words much less back them up.

So yeah, Michelle ... go on with your little black and white, zero-sum world where only one party in a transgression can carry the criminal liability. Hope that works out for you. Here in the real world and in the legal world, it is quite different.

You say you've been to law school? I'd be asking for a refund of tuition ...
Posted by LissaKay  on  10/13  at  11:46 AM

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