NB. I apologize for the delay in this post’s publication. Real life interjected for me in the form of family illnesses.
In my last post on this matter, I had one question remaining in the list of issues that had to be addressed in the imprisonment of Sharisa Joy Kochmeister (because, frankly, it is imprisonment): What causes of action might one bring against county and/or state officials, if any?
This question deserved its own post, because it is a long and complex question. The very short answer, I believe, is that there are indeed actions that lie against Jefferson County and/or her officials if brought by Jan Kochmeister, but not if brought by Sharisa Kochmeister. There may not be any actions that lie against the State of Colorado. All this will be explained, but fair warning, it’s long and complex in itself. I’m sorry to be so wordy, but there are so many factors that have to be taken into account when one gets into nitty-gritty law like this, that leaving anything out seemed slipshod.
A couple of clarifications I feel I have to make here:
- This post is not intended to be legal advice, nor is it intended to create any kind of attorney-client relationship with any reader. If you are in need of legal representation, please contact a competent attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.
- Just because I’m explaining what the law seems to be here doesn’t mean I agree with it. I am trying to explain how it would likely look to a judge, not how it looks in my eyes. So please don’t waste your time and mine commenting on how mean I am. (Yes, I’ve received such comments. Reading comprehension fail much?)
Okay. To the relevant bits.
NB. This is the version of events I have been given as of this writing. If things later prove to have occurred in a materially different way, I will edit this post.
Sharisa Joy Kochmeister is a 36-year old nonverbal autistic activist who uses keyboards to communicate. She is also epileptic and has cerebral palsy (I am unaware of her language preferences; if she prefers different terminology, please let me know and I will fix it). She is a college graduate and has served on several boards, including that of the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council. She led an active life (until recently), with many friends and a caring guardian in her father. She is a person, with needs and wants and opinions.
In March, she was hospitalized. At one point, she became ill, and her father helped to clear her airway. She, for whatever reason, kicked him, and he pushed her. I have never met Sharisa or her father, but I do know that in moments of extreme stress (such as being in hospital and either being sick or experiencing a loved one being sick) it is very easy to react emotionally, instead of with cold logic. I have never seen any allegations or proof that anything untoward was occurring in their relationship – but more importantly, no one I know who is closer to the family has, either.
Someone at the hospital called the police. Then Jefferson County Human Services.
NB. Any anti-choice, hateful comments will be deleted, so don’t bother trying.
Since I have been unable to find work as an attorney due to a variety of reasons, most of them monetary, I have been working as a blogger for a company that provides content to law firms. It’s good work, for a good boss. The law is what I love (well, next to macaroni and cheese), and what I’ve devoted my life to, and since I consider myself a writer by inclination, it suits me fine. I generally have no complaints.
After a period in high school/college where I wanted to teach, I decided that instead, I wanted to go into law. In hindsight, it makes sense – autistic people have very highly developed senses of fairness and justice. However, something that has also helped me: the law is almost never black and white. And autistic thinking is almost never not. (At least, mine went through a period where everything was one or the other, no middle ground.) The law has helped me see things in terms of shades of grey instead of absolutes. Some idiots still profess astonishment that an autist can be an attorney, or they accuse me of not “really” being autistic when I say I got through law school, to which I usually reply pungently: it’s like, you want me to show you my diagnosis and my J.D., asshole? Despite anyone’s astonishment, I am a fully licensed attorney in the state of Illinois, and I greatly enjoy debating points of law which may be very murky indeed.
That said, there are some times when the law is pretty clear cut. I’ve started a sort of satellite blog called Law In The Comments, designed to deal with provisions in law that get brought up in internet comments a lot. My first post deals with Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty, and why the First Amendment doesn’t apply to him. I thought I’d include the link here, since this kind of thing might very well be just as interesting to my readers as it is to me: Constitutional Law For Dummies, or Why Phil Robertson Is S.O.L. Enjoy. Or ignore, as you see fit.