This article is one of a series of editorial articles that express personal opinions and views. They are written with no pretensions to be error free. I will gladly correct substantial errors of fact. My opinions can change, depending upon my awareness of changes in factual information. It is my intent to remain focused on specific public issues, regarding the personalities involved. For all I know, all the characters are saints, concerning their private lives and other public business...
Changes may be requested by e-mailing the details to
Imagine my surprise, today, when I "Googled" Michigan Assistant Attorney General Stacy Erwin-Oakes. The following was acquired from the Department of Criminal Justice "biographies" web page of the Saginaw Valley State University web site, at
"Ms. Erwin-Oakes is a native of Saginaw, MI. She attended Ferris State University and obtained a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. She worked as a Correctional Officer while obtaining her teaching certification from Saginaw Valley State University. Afterwards, she returned to her hometown and taught in the Saginaw Public Schools. Then, she graduated from Michigan State University College of Law and worked for the Michigan House of Representatives before accepting her current position with the Michigan Attorney General's Office. As Assistant Attorney General she prosecuted and defended cases throughout the State of Michigan."
A great bio! Walks on water and is God's gift to our species! Someone forgot to mention that she has failed to isolate her ancient simian nature from her practice of law.
As a youth, I lived by, and came to understand the corrupting influence of that variable survival hallmark of all species, that I label unbridled self-interest. Later in life, as I became more analytical in thought, I considered the motivational influences upon my life choices, and those of others of my species. Consequently, I realized that I was far less a predator, had far less "need" to dominate others, did not measure my worth with tangible wealth, and was more averse to domination than most of my peers.
Subsequently, I learned that, in the context of the actual behaviour of individuals in a civilized society, lip-service to ethical principles is far more important than ethical action, and, with no enforcement of the "rules" of civilized behaviour, most folk choose anarchy, if it favors them.
With time, I came to appreciate the effects of that ancient, necessary, and perverse part of human nature. The simian heritage and beyond, that, relative to the rest of the world, determines an individual's perceived "needs" as paramount, and presents the human brain with the choice to submit, or not, to the demands of an ancient primate nature based upon "might is right". The choice is to act as a mindless brute, or act in a manner consistent with the responsibilities of living in a "civilized" human society, in a manner that fosters civilized behaviour among others of the community, be it local, or global.
The choice is to victimize, deliberately, or not - or to be a passive victim, or not.
I learned, in the "school of hard knocks", that the choice to do the right thing, as a relatively healthy individual of the human species, is a rational choice, based upon the relative values of the subjects of choice, as determined by the individual making the choice. I also learned that many "well educated professionals", like Michigan Assistant Attorney General, Stacy Erwin-Oakes, choose, with obvious intent, in their professional capacity, to do the wrong thing, for personal benefit, with no consideration for the victims, deliberate or incidental.
The reasons for their victimization make no difference to the victims. The effects are the same. In a civilized society, in which individual behaviour is bound by "necessary" rules of behaviour, those professionals that interpret and enforce the discipline have a professional responsibility to ensure they know what they do, and if not, to do their homework, as required, and act accordingly. It is not their professional responsibility to flush the implementation and value of the whole process, because they are too lazy, stupid, or crippled by conflicts of interests.
From my perspective, and Burns', regarding the considered road right-of-way issues, in documented context, and with one important exception, there is not a dime's worth of philosophical or legal difference, between the likes of Erwin-Oakes and her supporters, and armed street thugs and their supporters. All justify, in some rational form, their choice to sanction their personal predatory behaviour, or that of others, ignoring any ethical compass that might be available.
The single significant difference between the two groups is that, unlike the gun slinging street thugs, stealing and fencing merchandise, the others have sworn to act i.a.w. the law, and to enforce the law, instead of embracing the tenets of their philosophical twins, running wild in the streets.
Like other public officials, associated with the documented property theft and denial of Alfred Burns civil rights, Michigan Assistant Attorney General, Stacy Erwin-Oakes, consistent with the perversity of human nature, chose to hold her personal self-interest above the professional responsibilities of her office. Today, after viewing the photograph, above, the irony of her choices are more evident to me, because Stacy Erwin-Oakes denied the lessons of the history of her own ethnic heritage, to which I referred; in my total ignorance of her racial background, at the time.
I suspect my pointed racial reference stung, personally, and for that unintended hurt, I apologize. In light of my current awareness, with the unintended personal element aside, I still cannot think of a better analogy, in professional context. Black or white, the uniform enforcement of the law should be, among other "right" things, oblivious to the color, economic circumstances, politics, intellectual development,... of those human predators and prey it is meant to influence. Instead, too often, with the help of attorneys, judges, and ignorant juries, it is used as a tool of unethical domination and retribution, by those that don't care, beyond their personal view of the world.
A few hours after I loaded the above to my web site, Burns stopped by to show me the response he received from his substantiated complaint to the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission. His complaint concerned the Assistant Michigan Attorney General, Stacy Erwin-Oakes', choice to invent law and lie, to support the theft and conversion of Alfred Burns' property, and violation of his civil rights, regarding specific and documented M.D.O.T. responsibilities and her sworn duties in office.
The text of the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission response was:
"Dear Mr. Burns: The allegations you have made are not subject to review by this agency. The agency will not act as a substitute for the court's jurisdiction. If you believe that a criminal act has occurred, and the agency you have approached to address this issue has not responded adequately to your concerns, you will need to seek redress through the court system. If you have not already done so, I suggest you consult with an attorney who can advise you of your options."
The response, from Senior Counsel, Ruthann Stevens, stated, in so many words, "Hire an attorney, because we do not care to consider the allegations you brought against one of our own." I infer, from Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission's response, "We don't care, unless you hire one of our peers, and then you must still bare the expenses of proving your allegations in court, with no certain outcome, even though Erwin-Oakes' official legal opinion is, upon its face, and in context, false and injurious and contrary to the responsibilities of her sworn duties, and that of an ethical lawyer."
The Commission's response failed to address, in plain English, why the apparent lies and invention of law, by Assistant Attorney General Stacy Erwin-Oakes, and her consequential de facto approval of property theft, property conversion, and denial of civil rights under color of law, were insufficient basis for some form of remedial action by the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission. Burns never requested that "The agency (will not) act as a substitute for the court's jurisdiction.", so why the transparent evasive misdirection?
Burns request was:
"Please find attached hereto, and incorporated into this grievance, my response (under the name of Peter Markham), to her single page response to my original complaint to M.D.O.T. officials. She sanctioned their support of the unlawful taking of my private property for public use, contrary to state and federal legislation regarding property rights, eminent domain, and due process. I request an Investigation by the Attorney Grievance Commission."
Given the brevity and evasion of the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission's reaction to Burns' request, I am left to speculate that the Commission members don't care about the professional responsibilities of their positions, like others involved in this contest, beyond their personal interests in their positions. Maybe they are so enamored of certain arcane legal theory, that they are blind to plain ol' "white collar" right n' wrong, because it doesn't look like the stereotypical pistol in some drug crazed street thug's hand.
Yo! Intellectual Giants! Please humor Burns and I. Tell us why the sanction of Assistant Attorney General Stacy Erwin-Oakes, for the illegal taking and conversion of property by government entities, under color of law, is not worse than the sanction of armed robbery by street thugs. Tell us why there is no basis for any action by the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission. After all, Burns and I do not have sufficient life to learn everyone-else's business in an attempt to understand why the State of Michigan promotes theft, illegal conversion, and deprivation of civil rights.
Then, again, it is just as likely that, like M.D.O.T.'s Myron Frierson, the majority of Attorney Grievance Commission members don't care, and, as suggested by the response bearing their names, Burns should hire a lawyer he cannot pay, or accept the theft and conversion of his property and denial of his civil rights, or defend his property and related rights with armed resistance, as any convenience store owner would have the right to do when faced with an armed street thug.
My opinion of attorneys, and their apologists, in general, during forty years of adult life, has deviated little from that of hired amoral gunslingers in low budget western movies. In the context of my limited exposure to lawyers, I have never had a personal reason to expect otherwise, regardless of how I might wish it to be, or the fact that ethical and competent attorneys are not an extinct species, yet.
When amoral attorneys have the responsibility to guard Al Burns' civil rights, and self-serving oversight commission members look the other way, all ugly possibilities become probable, and likely, because, as long as folks in positions of influence "don't care", predatory human nature has no constraints.