Good for Shanesha Taylor for standing up to Co. Atty. Bill Montgomery trying to seize her donations There is no evidence, no signed financial agreement with the County Attorney, no receipts (only a budget with no verification), yet Veteran and Mom with AA degree who made a desperate choice resulting in no injuries has been defamed internationally
They’ve got law and order in Arizona. Just look at the case of Shanesha Taylor who is now being hung in the media of one of the worst states in America when it comes to the support of single moms. The articles and newscasts sound as if they are parroting press releases issued by the elected Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. Most are full of outright lies and distortions that need clarification which is my intent with writing this op-ed.
This demand by County Attorney Bill Montgomery to “put your money in a trust fund or else we prosecute you for already cleared charges” is one of the most revolting displays of government abuse and over-reach that I have ever witnessed.
Arizona is known for over-zealous prosecution of people of all races, particularly minorities. Clearly Montgomery is just “Jonesing” to send Shenesha Taylor to prison,regardless of the approximately $900,000 that it will cost for the trial, imprisonment and costs of having someone else rear her three children. Montgomery and his right wing prosecution team cares nothing about the human toll and the devastating, life-long damage that prosecution on felony charges of which she has already been cleared will cause to her and every member of her family. Conservatives in charge of the criminal “justice” system there have demonized and stereotyped Shanesha as one of the “undeserving poor.”
Also at risk in this case is discouragement of the new practice of crowd funding as a way to help others to get on their feet and muster a legal defense. This was the intent of the donors with no conditions of how the money would be used expressed or implied by anyone. If one gives a person a cash birthday gift, it does not come with the expectation of terms and conditions upon what they will buy with with the money. This was a gift and no one can legally or morally misconstrue it any other way. Why does the prosecution team think they have a right to control or freeze this gift?
Joyce Vogt, probably the largest single donor to the campaign, a woman who rallied her church to put up the bail and make donations for Taylor, said “I have no regrets in donating to Shanesha Taylor. I did this as a gift to her, to get her back on her feet. I don’t expect to get anything out of this because this wasn’t about me, it was about helping someone who was struggling and desperate. So often people give gifts and donations with strings attached. There were no strings…no expectations…no conditions. I question the tactics the State is using, insisting that she trade the financial freedom that donors around the world gifted to her for freedom from prosecution for these charges. It seems like a pretty unfair trade that places her back in the financial position that she was in when all this started. It doesn’t seem right to me to do that.”
Common sense dictates that the best way to protect children is to give single mothers back-up and support, but in Arizona hateful attitudes as displayed in the comments sections at the various media sites are more the rule than the exception, particularly among the McCain-worshiping controlling elite. One woman commented that she is “praying” that Shenesha Taylor be sent to prison and have her kids taken away from her because of her refusal to allow the prosecutors to take away her donations. What kind of religious deity is she praying to who would want an outcome like that other than Beelzebub? Praying for the family to be destroyed? Outrageous mindsets are too abundant in Arizona.
Montgomery wants to make an example of Shanesha and his shame-and-blame campaign goes beyond the pale of what should be done to discourage people from ever leaving their offspring unattended in a car. Even it was only March, on a cloudy day with the temperature outside 71 degrees, Shanesha is truly sorry for this error in judgment.
Montgomery says he is doing this smear campaign against her for all kids, but he is the same callous person who had to be sued by the parents of 5-year-old Zander Welton born with epileptic seizures so intense that he went through two brain surgeries as everyone tried to reduce their severity. The one medicine that gives him relief is cannabis oil. Luckily, Montgomery lost and was over-ruled by the judge in the Welton case. Montgomery claims to be an activist for children but there is ample evidence that this is not truly the case. He is only an activist for right wing beliefs from the Bronze Age, such as the continued drug war and has been called out on a number of unethical practices. Take a look at how long he caused this little boy to suffer and threatened his parents with prosecution for bringing him relief. It is sickening. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2483449/Parents-sue-state-5-year-old-sons-right-medicinal-marijuana-oil-stops-having-severe-DAILY-seizures.html
Montgomery’s arrogance in doling out punishments or forgiveness, according to his political philosophy makes him a legend in his own mind. For example, when Brain Doctor Peter Steinmetz was facing two counts of disorderly conduct for bringing his loaded AK47 to Sky Harbor Airport and scaring the bejeepers out of almost everyone, Montgomery dropped the charges against him and imposed a financial demand of but $500 to be donated to a charity. This was Steinmetz’ second offense for bring a loaded gun into the “illegal open carry areas” of the busy airport, so a sentence of taking NRA gun safety classes and paying $500 seems a bit light to me in comparison to the harsh financial restrictions imposed on Shanesha Taylor, who is not a public safety risk. http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2014/11/05/charges-dropped-man-brought-gun-sky-harbor-abrk/18515491/
My qualified observation is that it griped Montgomery and his cast of characters that 58,973 people would even dare to petition him not to prosecute Shanesha Taylor and freely give her money that takes her off government assistance. Montgomery is so power-mad that he is going against the intent of the donors whose only wish was for her financial independence and a cushion through what everyone knew would be an ordeal. Montgomery is likely assaulting Shanesha’s character because she caught on to the unethical and probably illegal stunt that he is pulling which basically locks her out of the needed money for 16 years. After all, if he can divide the donors on the question of whether he should be allowed to tie up their intended funds, then they won’t raise more for a legal defense. Divide and conquer to save himself from a public outcry no doubt. She did not sign an anything that I could find in agreement with locking herself out of funds that she needs for her survival and defense. The media is doing this shaming campaign without any evidence of transcripts, an agreement, receipts, absolutely nothing to prove the allegations. Expect libel and slander out of this media circus in the very near future.
There is much more evidence of Montgomery’s questionable ethics. He has ripped off the Maricopa County taxpayers by using time to give legal advice to politicians and was recently called out to step down. He has very little regard for the law except as it suits his own political ambitions or those of his cronies. This is more detail about how he abused the trust of the Maricopa County taxpayers.
Under the guise of “protecting children” Montgomery has demanded that Shanesha Taylor lock herself out of funds that 4,000 donors wanted to her have access to survive and fight back now, not 16 years from now, and then to be returned to her only if her children go to college. Such shockingly unethical and probably illegal terms, with the crude “trust agreement” written by a recent law school graduate who clearly can’t do basic math. She signed no such agreement regarding finances, although she did agree to the counseling, tests, and parenting classes.
Shanesha Taylor ripped off no one and yet a crazed Montgomery publicly criticized her for being “irresponsible” because she stood up to his unethical financial demands. There was no betrayal of the donors by anyone except Montgomery, who is hell bent to take the funds we all wanted her to have away from her by putting it out of her reach for 16 years? How could she possibly do that? The donors did not donate the funds for it to be put in a savings account. There were no conditions put upon it but it was clear that she needed it to cushion her through the legal struggle.
What I know for certain and why I care about the outcome of this case.
I followed this fundraising effort from day one, brought it to the attention of friends who donated and longtime media colleagues who agreed that it was positive and spread the story of this act of good will. I was not the primary fundraiser and I collected no money for it, just simply spread the word. As the California prison reformer since 1993 who often exposes the torture and murder of inmates by state employees, I have been very supportive of scores of social justice battles and other good works.
For more than 100 wrongful death/torture lawsuits in California, I found lawyers and millions have been paid out in settlements for government abuse that would otherwise go unseen and without accountability. Still today I support the pro bono and private lawyers willing to fight a callous and corrupt criminal justice system, including about a dozen jailhouse lawyers. I have been organizing protests and writing op-eds about injustice in popular media and authoring scholarly articles for four decades.
As is the case any public figure who takes action and exposes the wicked underbelly of greedy politicos and cruel law enforcement, there are sometimes rabid attacks on me by those who want to continue to profit from prisons, jails and taking children from parents, which is California’s largest industry. We’ve won some vicious battles, lost some in which we could not find justice due to our broken system, but my policy has always been to been to fight back on the side of the people even when lies are told. My motto has always been: Above all, truth. There is no effective person who doesn’t get attacked, libeled/slandered and this is particularly true for journalists, activists and people such as Shanesha Taylor who are charged with a crime for any reason.
It is now well known that part of the prosecutorial playbook in order to stop public support of anyone arrested, is to do a massive public shaming campaign. These damaging untruths have been launched full force against her because she is standing up to having no access to her donated funds for 16 years, and then will only get it back if her kids attend college. She signed no agreement to do this, contrary to what the media is blasting. Such a "deal" is painful and harmful to her and the children in many ways, deeply upsetting to her family and friends, and a misuse of tax dollars. The financial requirement is highly unethical, unusual and probably illegal because the money is a gift that people wanted her to have now to use unconditionally. Taking away her cushion, her ability to complete her mandated court program, puts her and the children at grave risk of ending up living in the car again. Good thing she never signed anything agreeing to such controlling terms.
The media almost always takes the side of the prosecution, particularly in red states. Call me old school, but this printing of government press releases as truth from County/District Attorneys is not the way I was trained in college as a young journalist to report the news. As a person with an advanced education and several degrees in the Humanities and Liberal Studies, with emphasis on Journalism/Cultural Anthropology/ Philosophy, I evolved into a critical thinking person who questions everything. An ability to spot a politico’s agenda and dishonesty almost immediately probably came from fighting all those inmate lawsuits, but it took me awhile to get to this point of awareness. Shanesha Taylor has never been arrested before and at first, she had no idea that her “defense team” made little or no effort to fight for her right to keep HER money.
I have evidence that Shanesha Taylor is not a drug addict and records of multiple tests, including hair follicle, urine and blood before and after her arrest. The New York Times also spoke with Child Protective Services to verify that the rumor that her son was born with drugs in his system is absolutely false. She is a military veteran and never should have been homeless with a 6 month and 2 year old in the first place, in addition to a 9 yr old. Shanesha Taylor is the face of the working poor in America and the struggle that single mothers have in trying to survive while working and taking care of two babies in diapers. I was a single mom after my husband died and am very familiar with the desperate choices that they sometimes make trying to feed, clothe and house their families. Many of the donors have been down this path too which is why there were no conditions put on the use of the money. Think about it, what if you received donations and the government tried to lock you out of them when the whole purpose of the fundraiser was to give you financial independence and a cushion? It is no one’s business how it is spent and certainly wrong to try and take almost all of your funds and lock them away “or else we’ll prosecute you" after already dropping the charges.”
Amanda Bishop, a young lady in New Jersey, who saw the press coverage when Shanesha Taylor was arrested on March 20, 2014 for leaving her 2-year-old and 6-month-old boys in her SUV while she went in to interview for a job with an insurance agency, had the simplest and purest of intentions. It was 71 degrees and cloudy that day. The four of them lived in the car. The boys were in their car seats sleeping and Taylor knew that it wasn’t hot outside. Since they spent a lot of time in that vehicle, Shanesha had a good idea of the temperature range around noon time. The interview was so important to her that she spent the previous day gathering cans for recycling and babysitting but she had barely enough gas to get there. When she arrived at the babysitter’s house that she had pre-arranged, no one answered the door. Shanesha was trying to meet a deadline to find work before April 1 so that she and the babies could have stable housing. The job was everything she needed to be able to move the babies out of the car. Summer was coming when the temperatures get really hot.
Thankfully, no harm came to the boys and while there is no law specifically forbidding that children not be left unattended in the car, Taylor was charged under general child abuse which was a devastating blow to her. It was her first offense. The picture of her sincere, tearful response went viral. The car doors were open when she finished the interview and had been for quite some time since an employee noticed they were unattended and called 911. She has since been cleared by Child Protective Services (I have the letter) after meeting all the requirements of court-mandated classes, counseling, tests and more which took up almost all her time for 20 weeks, in addition to the $3,600 she had to pay in fees and transportation costs. Child care was extra. I have a copy of the letter confirming the CPS clearance. She paid the high price of public defaming, jail for nine days, denied visits to her children for two months while she was nursing her 6 month old baby and 20 weeks of court-mandates for this one error in judgment.
While it was a wrong choice, it wasn’t as dramatic as the County Attorney Montgomery and the prosecutorial team are making it out to be. You’d have thought that this never-before-convicted mom who has an earned an AA degree was an ax murderer. A number of politicians were taking full advantage of the situation, all eager to win election, none of whom actually cared about the circumstances leading up the terrible choice between two bad options. They made a political example out of her which has not only been humiliating, but destroyed her reputation and the defaming continues today. My grandmother would have called this situation akin to “killing a fly with a sledge hammer.” None of her detractors really care about her, about her babies or the rest of her family members, the costs to the taxpayers of trials, imprisonment and the price of having someone else rear her children.
We should be very aware that about 38 kids die every year from being left in a hot car and it is important to educate people never to leave any child unattended in a vehicle at any time. In Shanesha Taylor’s case no one died or was medically harmed. I spoke to Janette Fennell, the founder of KidsandCars.org, who said that there were too many variables to tell how a long an infant could survive in a hot car — including such things as how hydrated the baby was at the time. But even though the organization lobbies to outlaw leaving children in cars, Ms. Fennell said that in Ms. Taylor’s case, “A felony sounds pretty severe.” After all, it was 71 degrees outside that day, cloudy and they were all four living in the car.
I cheered on and endorsed the efforts of Amanda Bishop, a young lady living in New Jersey who is now 7 months pregnant with her first child, working two jobs in retail and by now very likely overwhelmed with the politicization of Shanesha Taylor’s plight. It was so demanding that she couldn’t work for months and as an unpaid volunteer she too was impacted economically after 58,973 people from around the world got behind her humble effort to help with this no-strings-attached fundraiser. In following and sharing the campaign over the weeks that it was underway, it became clear to me that Bishop knows little about politics or media frenzies, corruption of government or the challenges of single moms. Her simple, noble goal was to help one mom, Shanesha Taylor, get out of jail, avoid prosecution and keep her family together. Bishop set up the call for donations at the crowd funding site and about 4,000 people donated a total of approximately $114,000 after the better journalists did features about the effort. Several of my friends also donated to the fund and there was never any terms by donors imposed for the use of the money. It was a gift. The gift of financial independence freely given to Shanesha Taylor to be used right now in any manner that she sees fit to get her back on her feet. Simple.
I can only estimate, but a thinking person can see that right off the top of that $114,000, the crowd funding fee processing and income taxes which are estimated to be 28% – 35%, between $26,900 – $35,000, the net amount that she received was immediately and dramatically reduced to about $68,000. Amanda Bishop handled the crowd funding and reported that after all the adjustments due to insufficient funds, and before income taxes that the amount was about $103,000. Take off another $35,000 for taxes (better to have the higher end estimate than to miss making the payment) and the beginning amount she actually received is nearer to about $68,000 not $114,000. You’d never know that the net amount is nowhere near $100,000 when listening to the power-mad County Attorney Bill Montgomery, spouting his red state rhetoric to shame Taylor, creating the image of her as an irresponsible stereotype.
Montgomery has a law degree, holds public office and he can’t do the math that all she ended up with originally was about $68,000 after commissions and taxes? She didn’t want to be homeless again and paid rent, first, last, deposit for 12 months estimated $14,522.45 and I have those receipts. She furnished the home with basics because she had nothing, buying beds for the children, setting it up which cost $5,000 approximately. There have been court-mandated classes almost every day, childcare and transportation to meet those requirements which have already cost $3,600 with another four weeks left. This does not include childcare. Buying food, diapers for she and the three children for 20 weeks @ $100 per week is about $2000. She owed back car payments, childcare for two months that her family who all work low wage, full time jobs could not afford to absorb.
She has been doing interviews when not in the required classes/counseling/testing. There is a cost to all this childcare. She does not interview for low-paying jobs that can’t cover the $1250 per month that daycare centers in Arizona require. There are legal fees, and she is paying for mandated twice weekly counseling at $110 per session. Realistically,she couldn’t possibly have more than $42,000 left at this point. The expenditures are very responsible even if it was anyone’s business how her gift was spent. So the silver-spoon electeds are disrespecting the intentions of the donors. College for her children 16 years from now is nice, but totally unrealistic for the mother of three who needs to mount a defense for herself. I don’t know of single donor who intended that this money be used in the far off future for college. She would like her children to go to college but that is not more important than providing the basics because she has no government back up now. The moment she was arrested, every form of possible government support was taken away. The people who need it most aren’t getting the public services. She had been into the agencies twice asking for help in the week before the incident and was totally ignored. This is business as usual particularly in red states such as Arizona where they are willing to spend any amount on incarceration, prisons and jails but very little to give moms a hand up. The people who work in the bureaucracies are typically unbearably incompetent and they just do not care.
Was the pro bono attorney Benjamin Taylor who surfaced ever really advocating for Shanesha’s right to keep the donated money?
At this juncture, well after the money was raised, Benjamin Taylor, a young African American attorney, surfaced and offered to represent Taylor on a pro bono basis. He is one of the lawyers who receives regular paid contracts from Maricopa County to represent the poor when the public defender is overloaded. Here he is on the list of paid contractors which is in alphabetical order.
The general public is unaware that lawyers get cases thrown to them only if they don’t fight back too hard against the County Attorney/Prosecutors for their clients. This a terrible practice and the voters need to do serious reform and cause the awarding of county legal contracts to be done independently, so that the County and District Attorneys have no say or power over how well the cases are fought. Attorney Benjamin Taylor may very well have taken Shanesha’s case pro bono, and not been paid by the County for this particular one, but he is an “insider” and worked for the public defender when he was just out of law school in Maricopa County. He also worked for the prosecution side in Pima County at one point, so clearly he is an officer of the court and more on the side of the court from what I can observe.
He set up a rinky dink “deal” with the County Attorney Bill Montgomery that charges would be dropped if she locked herself out of the funds that we donated. Benjamin Taylor did not come back and advise the donors that our gift of financial independence was about to be tied up and intentionally placed out of her reach. There appears to be no transcript of the back room, closed door negotiation which Shanesha Taylor was not allowed to attend because she might anger the Montgomery. I’ve been digging around for any evidence of her lawyer standing up for her to keep the donated funds at all. Shanesha trusted her lawyer enough to fight for her and to give her good advice.
Benjamin Taylor did not do that and this “lock-yourself-out-of-your-money” deal or “we’ll prosecute you” was weakly contested. It took Shanesha awhile to realize that by locking her funds in a trust for 16 plus years, available then only if her boys go to college, that she was about to be put right back into the same desperate situation as she was before the money was donated. A colleague of Benjamin Taylor and a recent law school graduate wrote up this “trust”, a complicated instrument, and her lawyer encouraged her to go along with it, not acknowledging her protests. As soon as he saw that her money was about to be tied up, he bailed out on her.
Statement by Shanesha Taylor November 16, 2014
1. I did not have a home on Mar 20, 2014. I had arrangements to move us into a home by April if I could find a job. I was seeking that position in order to re-establish my family. That insurance company job meant stability. It meant a future with less worries. It meant I could comfortably pay bills, keep a roof over our heads and give my babies the type of life they deserve. We were sleeping in the car and showering at friends’ houses, it was March and we spent a lot of time in the car so I was not worried about the 71 degree temperature that day. I’d been on numerous interviews. This was the first interview offered that would financially stabilize my family.
2. I did not have a job on Mar 20. I did a series of odd jobs in order to care for the children. One job was as an office assistant working approx. 4 hours every other week. I was paid minimum wage for my work. It was a total of $50 a month, did not cover the cost of child care, and I reported it.
3. I arranged for a sitter to be available on March 20, 2014 for the boys. At the last minute, the sitter was not available. The next closest possibility was 30 minutes in the opposite direction of my interview. I simply did not have the gas to make the round trip to drop them off, get to the interview, get back to pick them up and still pick up my daughter from school on time later that afternoon. I spent the day before the interview babysitting and collecting cans to make sure I would have enough gas to make it there. I was told by the scheduler that the interview would take 15 minutes. I regret being away from the car while they were both sleeping. I was trying to get a job in time for an April 1 deadline. It was 71 degrees and cloudy, we lived in the car so I was not worried about heat. Thank goodness no harm came to them but prosecuting and imprisoning me, putting an extra burden on my family who work full time jobs, or putting them in the foster care system would definitely cause my babies and other relatives harm. I made an error in judgment but it was a choice between two bad options.
4. Like many of you, I consider my finances to be a private matter. Asking how much money is in my pocketbook is the equivalent of asking what color night gown I wore last night. I do however understand the concern by compassionate supporters that the donations are being put to good use although there were no conditions put on how the money would be spent by donors. But for the jealous who begrudge me funds that have me off government assistance, the money has not been spent up nor wasted on frivolous things. Amanda Bishop was the fundraiser, I had nothing to do with that part as I was in jail when the money came to my mom’s account. There was no other choice but to get the money to me than through her account. The burden for caring for the children was put on my family, working full time jobs, barely making it, with other children at home. I was not allowed to visit my children for two months which meant that my family had to obtain expensive child care. I owed them for expenditures, back car payments, but I did set up a house, paying first, last, deposit and one year’s rent ($14522.45). Mandated court classes/counseling have cost me $3,600 plus childcare. I bought clothing, food for 20 weeks for the four of us and some modest furniture needed to set up my household. I have paid utilities for four months and need to have adequate amounts in reserve. If I lock myself out of what I have left, I will be back to living in my car in a matter of months. I am off government assistance so it is necessary for me to be careful with every dime.
5. I have been offered three jobs recently that are not viable options. The first two were part time positions requiring nights and weekends. I do not have a reliable sitter at this time outside of normal child daycare center hours. Part time wages would not cover the daycare, the transportation and sustain the household. I’ve even attempted two part time jobs but the schedules just would not coincide. I was offered a full time position from 6am to 2pm. The company was l-l/2 hours east of my home. This would add approximately $600 month in gas if I commuted that far. My daycare hours are 6am to 6pm. The position would require the need for someone to be available for the children every morning at 4 am. I don’t have any one available to do that. I am uncomfortable being that far away as emergencies do come up and the day care centers do not keep sick children on the premises. With CPS watching over my shoulder, working nights, week-ends or l-l/2 hours a way is not at all in the interest of my family. With all the bad press including libel and slander without a grain of truth by my “defense team” and the County Attorney, I am losing hope that I will ever get a job. The almost daily classes have taken up a lot of time, gas going to and fro, I’ve spent $3,600 on court mandated classes, tests, counseling but faithfully completed 20 weeks’ worth. This does not include child care. No employer would tolerate this many hours away from the job spent on this mandated program. There are four weeks left, I have no idea how much more this will cost but it’s estimated that much of my time will be wasted.
6. My mind was not changed about the plea deal. I agreed to the terms of the deal (on the poor recommendation of my attorney) prior to all the terms of the deal being released to me because I foolishly trusted him. The final negotiations were not completed until September. I expressed my concerns with many of the unreasonable details since the negotiations began in July, long after the donors gave me the funds. My concerns and objections were not acknowledged by anyone. I continued to hold my ground on this with my lawyer Benjamin Taylor during the October hearings but I was steam-rolled by all involved who made the “agreement” to lock me out of funds I need to care for my children. The order then was that I had to accept this deal or face the maximum prosecution even though I was cleared of all charges and had the children in my custody. I was told “you have no choice but to accept this freezing of your donated money for 16 years and only if your kids go to college then, or else we take your kids away from you and send you to prison.”
7. Jarrett Maupin tried to extort $4,000 from me as a donation to his political campaign. He was very angry when I threw him off my defense team in August. Maupin just got off probation for telling lies and conducting himself in a questionable manner on other cases. http://www.fbi.gov/phoenix/press-releases/2009/px092109.htm My attorney Benjamin Taylor brought him on board but Maupin has never advocated for me to be able to hang on to the donated funds which I need. Under pressure, I donated $500 to his campaign which made him angry that it wasn’t more. He politicized my case during his run for office where he came in last. Now he’s out speaking against me in order to cover up this “deal” of which he was a part, even though I was excluded from these secret meetings. I tried to get transcripts but was told that no transcripts exist. Why not? It wasn’t in the news when I threw him off my “defense” team, but many people knew about it. I am doing my best to meet the court requirements and interview, but only on jobs that fit into the daycare hours and pay the $1250 per month that they cost plus care for the children and keep the household afloat.
8. The father of my children Carl works 6 days a week at a job that pays $10 an hour. Using only public transportation, he hasn’t been able to find a better paying job at this time. He is trying to help the children and I through this nightmare and we are working on our co-parenting skills. I have spent no money on him nor am I on government benefits, so why is this being questioned? My immediate support circle is small. Made up of Carl and my parents both of whom also work full time jobs and they’re barely getting by. They have other children at home and do not have room for me and three children.
9. I did not ask for a public defender. I never signed a contract with John Agra because he was too friendly with my existing attorney. He never sent me an invoice and was disappointed when I did not choose him to represent me. I believe that I was assigned a public defender so that the prosecutors can control the case from inside the County and keep the unlawful practices from leaking out. How could I ever trust any of the prosecutors or public defenders again? I am hoping that a real lawyer will surface who is not part of the local politics or receiving contracts from the County.
End of Statement by Shanesha Taylor
This story could go on for pages, with all the blood thirsty, shady characters and their hidden agendas hoping that she is prosecuted and sent to prison to cover up their purely mean-spirited actions.
However, this government over-reach is fundamentally wrong and defies the wishes of 4000 plus donors to tie up their gift for 16 years, and they will only give it back only if her children go to college. She needs the money now. Even though it is no one’s business how she is spending this gift, I have personally reviewed her receipts including rent/deposits for one year from April 2, 2014 to April 2, 2014 totaling $14522.45. I have letters from drug-testing agencies going back before and after she was arrested which found her drug free. She has been living for 20 weeks, attending classes/counseling/testing almost full time at a cost of about $3,600. Taxes set aside are $35,000, although they might turn out to be $27,000, She did not receive $114,000 after all the crowd fund processing fees in the first place. She spent $5,000 on setting up the home, at least $2,000 on diapers, food for four people over 20 weeks. She was behind on car payments and has made four since released, the childcare costs total thousands of dollars for her to be able to attend court-mandated programs and interviews. Each interview has a cost to it in terms of time and gas, and the babysitting costs in Arizona really are $1250 per month. She has already paid four months of childcare just for the court programs and interviews.
She is off public services for now but if the donated gift of money that the people want her to have is taken away, she will be right back to living in her car. The financial demands to freeze her out of the donations are probably to prevent her from being able to defend herself. She needs a high profile lawyer outside of the politics of Arizona. Her pro bono lawyer Benjamin Taylor is an insider and he failed to advocate for her. These meetings were conducted in secret and she was never allowed to attend. The terms were not even specifically spelled out until months later. She is a victim of political bullying and incompetent and possibly deliberately contrived legal representation.
Good for Shanesha Taylor for standing up to those trying to steal the donor’s money and at the very least lock her out of it for 16 years. This goes against the unconditional wishes of the people and had she not taken this stand to expose this unethical and probably unlawful back room “deal”, she would be back in a desperate situation that led to this problem in the first place. With the $900,000 cost to taxpayers to prosecute her for non-compliance with having her money stolen/frozen/tied up by the state including imprisonment and costs of having someone else rear her three children, it’s overkill and excessive, benefiting no one but the political agendas behind the whole shame and blame campaign.
The dates have been shifted around several times, apparently she is to go to trial December 10 on felony child abuse charges that were dropped and are now re-opened because she would not lock herself out of the money given to her which she needs to survive. This is justice? Hardly. She did not ask for a public defender and does not want one because they all seem to be on the prosecutor’s side. The expedited trial is to no doubt to hide tracks before she can get a real lawyer onto this case. The new judge is Kemp. This will be a travesty if they destroy Shanesha Taylor and her family for life over an unethical financial requirement. Here is the record to see just how often she has been bounced around
Where is Gloria Steinem, Gloria Allred, and Sandra Fluke when you need them? This is a perfect example of a military vet, African American mother who chose not to abort and yet is being treated very callously by the misogynistic and racist state of Arizona. I hope that she gets some decent representation from a pro bono lawyer who is not a part of those local politics. Please share widely if you care about this injustice.
B. Cayenne Bird is a 45-year veteran op-ed journalist and publisher. A descendant of Mary Todd Lincoln, and General Andrew Porter, she is passionate about human rights and criminal justice issues. A mother and grandmother with advanced degrees in Journalism, Liberal Studies, and Humanities (Cultural Anthropology) she has focused on prison reform making great strides in Calif. supporting the landmark Plata-Coleman case for a decade which resulted in major prison reform. She writes scholarly articles too but prefers op-eds.