Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Anne Avery Miller
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Anne Avery Miller

Anne Stanton - May 10th, 2010
Anne Avery-Miller’s Suicide: Friends and lawyer say jail hanging was totally preventable
 By Anne Stanton
The woman who once jokingly called herself the Britney Spears of
Northern Michigan is now dead, after hanging herself in an Antrim
County jail cell.
Anne Avery-Miller was reviled, gossiped about, but also loved and
passionately defended by friends in the little town of Elk Rapids,
where she once worked as a barber.
She was accused of killing her psychologically troubled 16-year-old
son, Sam, who was found dead on November 7, 2007, with a gunshot wound
that entered from the back of his left ear. Avery-Miller didn’t call
police, but instead picked up the gun and carried it downstairs. She
took pills and drank vodka in an unsuccessful attempt to kill herself.
Some say that last week’s suicide of Anne Avery-Miller, 39, proved she
was suffering from a guilty conscience for killing her son.
But her friends and lawyer contend she was innocent, yet became deeply
hopeless while she waited for months in Antrim County Jail for her
murder trial. She was unable to get any free counseling and was never
allowed to go outside.
On Monday night of last week, Avery walked to her cell after watching
TV and hanged herself with a bed sheet. She was found at 10:58 p.m.,
about 35 minutes after her last check.
She was taken to Munson Medical Center, where family and friends
surrounded her before her life support was turned off on Tuesday at
7:30 p.m., Zerafa.

Deb Zerafa, Avery-Miller’s friend said she was in a world of hurt. She
was very frustrated with her downstate attorney, Carl Marlinga, who
was considering withdrawing as her attorney. Her trial date remained
unscheduled (at Marlinga’s advice). But most significantly, a hearing
was scheduled to permanently terminate her parental rights of her
eight-year-old daughter on Tuesday, the day after her suicide. The
state requires a disposition of parental rights within a year of a
petition for neglect and abuse, which was filed after Avery-Miller
became a murder suspect.
Zerafa talked to Avery-Miller about the termination hearing over the
weekend and again on Monday. “I told her, ‘don’t ever give up your
rights.’ She said, ‘I won’t. I won’t sign anything.’”
With a parental termination hearing, the parent is not allowed to
communicate with the child until he or she reaches the age of 18.
Avery-Miller hadn’t seen her daughter since she was jailed.
Said Marlinga: “I know that was probably as crushing a weight as the
possibility of being convicted, maybe  even more so. Just the judgment
she was a bad mother was something she could not possibly take.”
“She was hanging on by a thread for all this time,” Zerafa said. “The
circumstances surrounding her life were hopeless. The whole entire set
of circumstances, but the thing that pushed her over the edge was
facing Mother’s Day without her children.”

Zerafa, who wrote and frequently talked to Avery-Miller since she was
jailed in November, said she believes a wrongful death suit should be
pursued against the Antrim County Sheriff’s Department.
“I have letters upon letters from her screaming for help — ‘I’m not
going to make it, I need counseling, where are they? I want to die,’”
she said.
Darcie Pickren, also a friend, is pursuing a grievance against Antrim
County Prosecutor Charlie Koop with the Michigan Attorney Grievance
Commission. She is holding Koop responsible because he is considered
chief of law enforcement for the county.
“I believe whole-heartedly she was innocent, but we won’t be able to
exonerate her. Why does Koop get to close the case? The daughter
should be able to know if her mother was guilty or not. I really
believe that. What a cop-out. If he has all this evidence against her,
bring it on.”
Koop didn’t return a call to the Express on Wednesday and left for
vacation on Thursday. Antrim County Sheriff Daniel Bean issued a press
release saying the suicide was under investigation, but did not
respond to specific questions about the alleged lack of psychological
Marlinga, who is based in Clinton Township, said that he had
considered withdrawing from the case because Avery-Miller was deeply
dissatisfied with how his law firm was handling the case. She wanted a
trial right away, but he wanted to do a series of psychological
assessments that would reflect that she might have been troubled and
emotionally fragile, but not capable of killing her own child.
“She wanted us to come to an early trial, and I specifically did not
think it was in her best interest. What we needed, first of all, was
the psychological assessment. That was extremely necessary. Once you
have a trial and the jury comes back guilty, you can appeal it from
here to forever, but it’s best to make sure all your ducks are in a
row before you ever go to trial.”

 Marlinga, who was working pro bono, said his office repeatedly asked
Koop and the judge to ensure Avery-Miller received counseling.
“There were motions and phone calls and letters asking for her own
counselors to see her. It was decided they could see her, but she’d
have to pay for it herself,” he said.
Yet Avery-Miller had no money.
“It was a very difficult situation. We were far away, and it seemed
like pulling teeth to get what are considered to be fairly simple
courtesies,” said Marlinga, who worked on the Jon Bonet/John Ramsey
and O.J. Simpson cases.
“Anne — even under the prosecutor’s theory — was acknowledged to have
psychological difficulties. It seemed unusual it would be such a fight
to get her psychological counseling. The state, whether it’s the
courts or the prosecutor or the sheriff, have an obligation to provide
medical care in their custody. And it includes psychological care, if
symptoms indicate psychological care was needed.  …What happened is
just awful. It was totally preventable.”
A gentleman friend, who was very close to Avery-Miller, said she just
couldn’t get “any contact at all from Marlinga’s office.”
After Avery-Miller’s death, he asked Joe Kosmala, who worked with
Marlinga as the primary attorney in the case, the reason for their
planned withdrawal—was it because Avery-Miller was so upset with them
or because the suit was so expensive?
“He said, no, they got a real nice letter from Anne asking they stay
on. But at a partner’s meeting, they talked about how Carl Marlinga
was going to be second chair at the trial, and it looked like it was
going to be a three-week trial in November, which would come up at the
same time as Carl’s state Senate race, and he couldn’t do it or commit
to the time. Joe didn’t think he could give adequate representation
“I know Anne was terribly frustrated with her attorney, but she never
wavered from the fact that she never shot her son. She feels
responsible for being such a bad mom that her son committed suicide,
but she went to her grave adamant that she never did this.”

The facts behind the case are complicated, in part, because police did
not immediately treat the house as a crime scene. For example, they
never checked Sam’s hand for gunpowder.
The forensic pathologist Dr. David Start has said it was improbable
that right-handed Sam would shoot himself from behind his left ear,
but not impossible, according to published reports.
A woman came forward last November to say that Avery-Miller told her
she had “killed Sammy,” while they were both at Munson’s Center One
after Sam’s death. But the woman also testified that she suffered from
a closed head injury, was on three medications, and was bipolar,
according to published reports. Most troubling was the fact that
Avery-Miller, who was in vicious, protracted legal battles with her
ex-husband and ex-boyfriend, wrote in her journal about being in
heaven with Sam and her young daughter. She also had written
obituaries for all three of them. It appeared, on the surface, she had
a plan to kill her children and then herself.
Adding to local suspicions of her involvement in Sam’s death was the
fact that she had fled town on January 22, 2008. Her whereabouts were
unknown until February 25, when it was revealed that she had driven to
Las Vegas to stay in a women’s shelter.
“I’m not denying that the prosecution had a theory,” Marlinga said.
“But you can obviously go into flights of fancy to escape the
bitterness of this world, creating scenarios of where you are happy
and you can long for that. But it doesn’t mean you would cross that
huge line in this physical world and take a gun to your child. That
would have been my defense at the trial. …Maybe, in some sense, Sam
thought that with his own suicide, it would liberate his mom to take
her own life.”

Despite Avery-Miller’s suicidal history, she fought against being on
suicide watch, in part, because it meant getting put in solitary
confinement and being stripped of everything, including her religious
papers that gave her strength, Zerafa said.
“She’d been in her cell – all by herself – in solitary for the longest
time,” Zerafa said. “They took everything. Her socks and her
underwear. She was freezing to death. They wouldn’t even give her
proper clothing. They treated her as if she was a convicted murderer.”
Said Marlinga: “There is no reason on God’s green earth that someone
in solitary confinement should be freezing. You don’t take a person
who has psychological prob-lems and subject them to cold temperatures
and difficult conditions. You can have a type of confinement where a
person is closely watched, kept warm and well fed. There could have
been cameras on her on a regular basis. You could have done a whole
bunch of things differently and this isn’t 20/20 hindsight. Everybody
knew at the time, to some degree, that Anne was psychologically
weakened. There were problems and suicide was a distinct, a very
distinct possibility.”
A wrongful death suit would allege that Avery-Miller was
unconstitutionally deprived of psychological help.
The 8th amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the infliction of
cruel and unusual punishment on prisoners.  A person who is sentenced
to jail or prison should not have an additional unofficial “sentence”
of pain imposed, said Traverse City attorney Grant Parsons, who has
represented prisoners who have committed suicide, lost limbs, and died
due to delayed or improper medical attention.
“Inmates are entitled to adequate medical care as a Constitutional
right.  I have represented prisoners who died from their own hand by
suicide; a man who lost his leg after literally crying for three and a
half months for medical care; a mentally ill man whose anti-seizure
medication was withheld and was instead given medication that causes
seizures, and he died; a man who was attacked and suffered brain
damage and then was denied help for two months.  These cases have
facts that are stranger than fiction.  If you read some of these
cases, it will make you doubt the fundamental nature of our nation,”
he said.
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government
from damaging a person’s property or life or liberty without due
process.  An inmate may not be made to suffer, in addition to serving
a sentence, because that effectively is another penalty without legal
One of the primary civil rights suits is for medical or mental health
care for inmates in jails or prisons.  The Supreme Court wrote an
opinion many years ago, Estelle v Gamble, which held that inmates are
entitled to adequate medical care as a Constitutional right, Parsons

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