And that face is: Willie Searcy
I first read about Priscilla The Hun's rat fucking of Willie Sercy a couple of years back in a book called "Bushwhacked: Life in George Bush's America" by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose. I remember reading the account at the time and feeling physically ill and I told myself I'd never forget what this person did to that young man, all in the service of corporate America.
Then yesterday, Dubose reprised the harrowing story in an article on Salon (subscription or day pass required). Please read the entire account. Dubose's retelling loses some of the great Ms. Ivins' acid-tongue Texas wit, but still manages to convey the complete lack of morality and, to put it bluntly, a true lack of humanity on the part of Owens.
More on the flip
But I truly think that every fucking thing that anyone with a modicum of human decency would find abhorrent about a judicial nominee is apparent in the the sad, tragic case of Willie Seacry. The story shows:
- An utter lack of compassion;
- Out of control judicial activism;
- Complete subjugation to corporate interests;
- And a tenuous, at best, grip on the notion of "fairness" as it relates to judicial review.
Here's the nut graph:
Attorneys on both sides of the case asked for a quick ruling, Ford because it hoped the verdict would be reversed and Searcy's family because they needed the money.
"The family did not have the money to provide the medical care he needed," Jack Ayres, the family's attorney, told the Austin American-Statesman.
The case sat for more than two years. For more than a year after oral arguments, the case languished with Owen, who was to write the opinion. When she issued it in March 1998, the opinion wiped out the damages and ordered a new trial.
Owen's opinion held that the original lawsuit was filed in the wrong court, a question that was not among the issues the Supreme Court had agreed to hear when it accepted the case.
To sum up the case: Willie Seacry was a young black man who, at the age of 14, became a quadriplegic in 1993 when a car veered into the one driven by his stepdad and a defective seat belt caused his spinal cord to be severed in the crash. Although a jury awarded him $40 million in damages (reduced to $30 million on appeal), Ms. Owens tossed the award and ordered a new trial, all the while the family's bills piled up and the quality of his care deterioated. The full extent to which Ms. Owens rat fucked this young man is stunning and involves a disregard for life -- to say nothing of blatant, reckless judicial activism -- that you really must read the entire account as layed down by Dubose.
In 1996, Owens received the case in the Texas Supreme Court and promptly -- or most would argue, in anything but PROMPT attention -- stretched it out for the next 5 years.
Willie Scearcy died in the summer of 2001. Here's how Dubose characterized his death (remember, this is a kid that a jury and an appeals court agreed deserved millions in damages):
Four days later, on July 3, the patchwork system of care unraveled. Willie's night attendant left at 4 a.m. At 5 a.m. Susan Miles walked into her son's bedroom and immediately realized that something was wrong. The ventilator was not working. "Aged out" of Medicaid at 21, Willie's weekly nursing allotment had been reduced from 104 to 34 hours. His working-class parents didn't have the resources to hire round-the-clock attendants or place him in a facility where he would have round-the-clock monitoring and care. What Jack Ayres had described nine years earlier as "a race to save this kid's life" had become a marathon. But it was over.
When asked by Sen Dianne Feinstein during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, why the decision took so long while Willie Searcy's life was in peril, Owens had this to say:
Culture of Life, indeed.