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Monthly Archives: March 2013

A MILESTONE FOR THE CADEFLAW INITIATIVE

Cadeflaw MilestoneCadeflaw stands for California Anti-Defamation Legacy Law. Its purpose is to make a change in the California law that would allow for a course of action for family members who are harmed by the defamation of their deceased loved one. The law is not without precedent; five states have such a law on their books. Idaho, Georgia, Nevada, Colorado, and Louisiana have laws protecting the reputation of the deceased. The goal of Cadeflaw is to add California to the list of those states that protect the reputations and legacies of those who have passed on.

Cadeflaw’s initiative does not intend to thwart freedom of speech. We believe everyone has a right to say whatever they wish; we do however, believe that each person should be held accountable for their words. Words can leave lasting and deep wounds, and sometimes it’s the truth that is painful. When something is said or written that is true and is reported for a purpose it is one thing. However, using words to intentionally defame or hurt someone is not socially or morally responsible. That is our belief and it is why this effort was started and why Cadeflaw will continue to work until the change in the law comes to fruition.

Cadeflaw started when Michael Jackson passed away. As mourning people struggled to understand the depth of emotion and grief they were feeling, they sought others who shared their feelings.  One cause of their continued sorrow was the ongoing media degradation of Michael. The reporting of rumor, speculation, and the rehashing of old lies began to take a toll on those who loved Michael. Caring and concerned people came together and developed ways to honor Michael and share “the other side of the story”.

One group of people became especially close and as they shared their thoughts and feelings, an idea came forward to urge the State of California to put a law into place that would allow an avenue of relief for family members when a deceased loved one is the object of defamation. This idea took off under the leadership of Mary Brookins, Administrative Director of CADEFLAW. The supporters of CADEFLAW will no longer passively accept the disrespectful and cruel assassination of Michael or anyone else that is not here to defend themselves.

The inspiration behind this initiative is Michael Jackson; however, the law is not intended to cover only Michael. The proposed law will give every citizen, regardless of social standing or status, the right to respect and dignity after they have passed on. It will give every family a chance to stop the pain, suffering, and possible financial loss caused by the defamation of a deceased loved one.

Since its inception in early 2010, Cadeflaw has had many opportunities to get our message and goal out in front of people. Very early on, Karen Kmiecik, Cadeflaw Finance Director, had the opportunity to travel to California. While there she was able to meet with Mr. Thomas Mesereau, Michael Jackson’s attorney during his 2005 trial. Mr. Mesereau read our petition and wished us well in our endeavor. One of the earliest exposures we had was an interview by Billy Johnson from Yahoo! Music. Valmai Owens, Director of Publications MJTP interviewed us for her blog. Firpo Carr has interviewed us and we have twice appeared in his Los Angeles Sentinel column. Cadeflaw has a regular column in the Jam Café Magazine, the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait online magazine, where each month we strive to share information on our progress and continue to enlighten people about our effort and its importance. Several times each month, Cadeflaw hosts blog talk radio shows where various topics pertaining to the group’s objectives are discussed.

Cadeflaw organized its first official event in August, 2012. It was held in California and was organized to coincide with Michael Jackson’s 54th birthday. This was an exciting way to present Cadeflaw’s mission and the group worked diligently to make it a success. The event was held at the J Spot Comedy Club in Los Angeles, and Cadeflaw Fundraising Director, Christina Tozer was present to facilitate. The event was hosted by Mr. Broderick Rice. Several notable speakers were present, among them Geraldine Hughes, author of “Redemption”; Larry Nimmer, Emmy-award nominated filmmaker and creator of the documentary “The Untold Story of Neverland”;   April Sutton, BET Television host and reporter; and William Wagener, Producer at OnSecondThought.tv. Mary Brookins, Cadeflaw Administrative Director, gave an introductory message. The event was a success in getting people aware of Cadeflaw and the importance of protecting the reputations and legacies of the deceased.

We needed twenty-five California registered voters to sign our petition in order to present our plea to the California Legislative Counsel. During the spring of 2012 we gathered 91 signatures and we submitted a letter requesting the Legislative Counsel to consider our request for a minor change in California law.

The Cadeflaw law is simple; it only changes California Civil Code §§ 44-48 by changing the definition of who can be defamed to include “a natural person whether living or dead”. Standing rules follow the California Probate Code §§ 6400 – 6414.

Cadeflaw’s proposal was submitted to the California Legislative Counsel in May, 2012. In July we received this communication from the Legislative Counsel: “Pursuit to your request, we have prepared, in appropriate form, your initiative measure to be submitted to the electors, relating to the extending the cause of action for defamation of a deceased person to the person’s relatives.”

Now that the proposed initiative has been written, we must submit the draft to the California Attorney General with a written request that a circulating title and summary of the chief purpose and points of the initiative measure be prepared (Elections Code § 9001(a)). At the time of submission we must pay a fee of $200. The $200 fee is to be placed in a trust fund in the Office of the State Treasurer and is refunded if the initiative measure qualified for the ballot within two years after the summary has been issued to our organization. If the initiative measure fails to qualify within that period, the fee is put into the General Fund of the State (Elections Code § 9001 (c )). At the time of request for title and summary we must also execute and submit a signed statement prepared by the Office of the Attorney General in reference to the collection of signatures. Our plan is to initiate a petition signing campaign before submitting the draft of the bill to the Attorney General. We must find dedicated people in the state of California

Cadeflaw is ready for the next step in bringing our mission to completion. We have come a long way from that little group of women who wanted to “make that change” as Michael Jackson sang. We want to make a difference, and take a stand against irresponsible journalism ……………….

Cadeflaw is also involved in other ways of trying to “make that change” in people’s lives. During the early part of 2012 Cadeflaw Research Director, Vanessa Little, shared a burden she had on her heart for the children of Gary, Indiana. Gary is the birthplace of Michael Jackson, and it is a town that has been overlooked in many ways. Cadeflaw sought a public school that could use some extra help and the Frankie Woods McCullough Girls’ Academy responded to our inquiry. The girls who attend the Academy are known as the Butterflies. Cadeflaw has adopted the Academy, and supporting the Butterflies has become very important to Cadeflaw. You can learn all about all about Cadeflaw’s Butterfly Project here Cadeflaw Gary, IN Butterfly Project

(See Media – Cadeflaw Articles)

B. Owens, Cadeflaw Secretary/Journalists

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Advocacy

 

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The Need for Death Photos: Newsworthy or Exploitation?

What Makes a Story Newsworthy?

News can be defined as “Newsworthy information about recent events or happenings, especially as reported by news media”. But what makes news newsworthy?

According to MediaCollege.com there are five factors which are considered when deciding if a story is newsworthy. The values are listed as: Timing, Significance, Proximity, Prominence and Human Interest. List of Factors

In view of the fact that I’m not a journalist I can not dispute the main factors, professionally, in determining whether a story is newsworthy; so I won’t put up a protest about several of the factors. I can understand timing, proximity and prominence. However, I fail to understand why the deaths of a dozen people are less significant than the death of hundreds of people. Perhaps the criterion alludes to the more bodies to count the higher the interest. Where did we go wrong?

EXPLOITATIONNo doubt stories about celebrities and many well-known people meet the criteria for being newsworthy but I don’t see any criteria for posting their death photos. Is there a criterion for that? Or can this one possibly fall under Human Interest? The article states human interest stories appeal to emotion and aim to evoke responses such as amusement or sadness. What about shock value?

Tom Szaroleta, a journalist for The Florida Times Union had this to say: “Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Billy Mays were newsworthy, but not front-page newsworthy. Michael Jackson, on the other hand, was tear-up-the-page newsworthy.”  Source of Story

I wonder if Michael would think his deathbed and morgue photos were tear-up-the-page newsworthy?

Since August of 2009 I’ve discovered a multitude of tabloid trash published with reference to Michael Jackson and other deceased persons, much of which has come under harsh attack by people who declared these articles to be offensive and certainly not newsworthy. What happened to the “Voices for those who no longer have one?” Somewhere along the way, during the Murray trial, the voices got misplaced with the rhetoric of prosecutors Walgren and Brazil. Yes, they were very persuasive and did a remarkable job of entertaining their audience, but I received it as a specialized display which lacked, to a great extent, sincerity. A VERY PROUD DAVID WALGREN AND DEBORAH BRAZIL

Contrary to popular belief it is NOT the truth which sets us free; it is the truth that we KNOW which gives us that freedom. District Attorneys Walgren and Brazil did the world no great favor, they did their job; a job they were compensated for, but with the execution of that job they displayed the worst case of defamation of the deceased I’ve ever seen. To win a case they made a gross and most disrespectful decision to display the death bed and morgue table photos of Michael Jackson. One online tabloid titles it “The final indignity for Jacko”, the UK Daily Mail (September 28, 2011- Use caution visiting this article/defaming photo) UK Daily Mail Article  Photo of the “Proud Prosecutors”

What’s even more appalling, to me, is these prosecuting attorneys used this form of defamation, against Michael Jackson, with the permission of the well-respected Superior Court Judge, Michael Pastor.

The UK Daily Mail isn’t the only media source to plaster Michael’s deathbed photos across the globe but there are countless others. What did they do? They gave the community of haters a seedbed to continue their hate crusade. Yet, we’ve rolled out the red carpet and have given these people high honors. Did we forget to give the prosecutors of the O. J. Simpson trial their awards, too?

I think lead prosecutor, Marsha Clark and her assistant, Chris Darden, did an incredible job but they lost. However, I have no bouquet of roses to give to them and would never think of sending them any.The prosecutors executed their professional duties very well and so did lead prosecutors Walgren and Brazil, but that is as far as it should have gone. How did they merit the rise to the sky-scraping chorus of so much praise and worship? 

Jackson fans applauded the prosecutor when he walked down the courthouse halls, and his performance sparked Facebook fan pages, including “David Walgren Is Hot.” Prosecutor in Conrad Murray case is appointed a judge. Really!!

One last shot at exploiting Michael was the unjust and cruel display of those photos. Yes, I agree with the UK Daily Mail, they took away the final dignity Michael had by displaying, to the world, his death photos. They cared nothing about the family of Michael Jackson and anyone else. Their focus was to WIN, at any cost, and gain a position of notoriety from this landmark case. They were prosecuting the man charged with involuntary manslaughter of the “King of Pop”, Michael Jackson. In their prosecution of the doctor they maliciously published, globally, a photo of Michael Jackson on his hospital death bed and another one of him nude on a cold steel morgue table. It makes no difference that the lower portion of his body was covered with a towel; the man was naked and because the doctor was found guilty the prosecutors will be celebrated forever. The world knew Murray was guilty before the trial ever began. Nothing new about that, what was there to celebrate?

STOP TRAMPLING ON GRAVE OF DECEASEDCadeflaw’s mission has NOT changed. The deceased are not here to defend themselves. We have become their voice. We will continue to call for a law that will hold people like David Walgren, Deborah Brazil and Michael Pastor accountable for their appalling actions toward the deceased. If their mission was one of “shock” they succeeded, but what would Michael’s decision have been to display his death bed photos. I think he would have been devastated. He was not here to engage in the decision. A very small group of people made that decision for him and gave no thought to the embarrassment it caused for this man’s children, family, friends and yes, his fans. I was terribly shocked and embarrassed and still am.

The displaying of the photos was NOT something the world was entitled to see; perhaps the jury needed to see them but not the world. The song and dance I’ve heard about this being a murder trial and the photos had to be shown is nonsense. I’d like for someone to name another deceased person whose deathbed photo has been displayed on national television and the internet. Now these photos are everywhere on the internet; and some unbalanced people even use them for their profile pictures. Nevertheless, we celebrate the people who made the decision to display these photos. I think NOT.

The Cadeflaw Advocates do NOT and will NOT celebrate such a mockery. We continue to call for an anti-defamation legacy law. While we continue to work hard to protect and preserve the legacies of the deceased, I have an enormous difficulty with celebrating people who continue to create arenas designed to blacken the memories of the deceased.

The actions of the California prosecution team made the members of the Westboro Baptist Church look like saints. They make no apologies for the character assassination of the deceased, but the prosecution team hid behind the disguise of prosecuting the doctor to mock Mr. Jackson. I offer no apology for not celebrating Judge Pastor, Walgren and Deputy DA Deborah Brazil. I didn’t see an apology they gave for mocking Michael Jackson, though they did celebrate and Mr. Walgren was rewarded handsomely with an appointment to an office of judgeship. Walgren’s Rise to Stardom Doesn’t he look so proud?

We all know why the media would post these photos, but what is the excuse given by the California officers of the court? They didn’t give one. They didn’t have to because they were celebrated. They didn’t need one. One more nibble out of the flesh of Michael Jackson.

We continue to ask those who believe this is wrong to support Cadeflaw. Let’s do everything within our power to stop or curtail this kind of mockery by calling for a posthumous law that will hold these offenders accountable for their dishonorable actions. Let’s not allow them to hide behind the first amendment or utilize the superficial show of righteousness’ to place a stain on the memory of the deceased. Let’s protect and preserve the memory of the deceased. Those left behind can be hurt.

Photos were NOT newsworthy. They were used to make mockery of Michael Jackson; to evoke reactions of shock, anger and disgust from Michael’s fan-base, family and friends; and to guarantee the prosecutor a rise to STARDOM. Mr. Walgren, you delivered. Congratulations.

I won’t post the photos but I will promise to make sure that every CA legislator receives a copy of each one. They shouldn’t be too shocked since the entire world viewed them on television and the internet is crawling with them. Final Indignity

“By means of the Mummy, mankind, it is said, attests to the gods its respect for the dead. We plunder his tomb, be he sinner or saint, Distil him for physic and grind him for paint, Exhibit for money his poor, shrunken frame, And with levity flock to the scene of the shame. O, tell me, ye gods, for the use of my rhyme: For respecting the dead what’s the limit of time?”  ~Scopas Brune~

MJ Brookins, CAD

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2013 in Advocacy

 

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HONORING INNOVATION

Photo of Pearl Prince Holding Society of Innovators Award (400x281)Pearl Prince, Principal
Frankie Woods McCullough Girls Academy

Gary Fellow

When Pearl Prince, an educator for more than 40 years with Gary Community Schools, learned she had been chosen a Fellow, her first reaction was shock.

“When I read about the accomplishments of the other people in the group, I told my husband, ‘What am I doing with these people?’” Her determination to do whatever it takes to create new learning models is why she was selected.

“This is just what I do. I just work to do my best to represent Gary Community Schools the best I can,” says Prince. “This is beyond anything I ever thought of. I never thought I was an innovator.”

Her approach to get parents–in many instances, single parents–involved in the learning process, is why the Frankie Woods McCullough Girls Academy has increased test scores for students. Raised by a single parent herself, Prince says that when single parents tell her they’re single and aren’t able to take part in school activities, Prince tells them about her upbringing.

“That breaks the ice,” she says. “Let me be clear. Everything we do here is about student achievement. I tell the teachers we are a team and we need to work together.” With the state placing more emphasis on test results, Prince works to come up with new ideas to teach children beyond the test. Her approach is working. English and language arts scores are up from 74 percent to 84 percent in the last two years.

“We celebrate the success of all our students,” says Prince of the kindergarten through seventh-grade school that has more than 450 students. “Our job is to make sure children have the basic needs, that they’re taught competently, that they’re taught competitively and that they be young ladies. I tell them it’s not important where you start in life; it’s where you end up.”

Article

 

Hawaii Senate passes Steven Tyler Act that seeks to protect celebrities’ privacy

Twenty-three of Hawaii’s 25 Senate members voted in favor of the bill, which now goes to the House for consideration.

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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Advocacy