March is Women's History Month...Let’s Celebrate Women Like Patricia Arquette Who are Advocates of Women's Rights

Technically, Women’s History Month was created to pay tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society. But I think the celebration should also salute women who are advocates of Women’s Rights.  
Equal Rights Amendment: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex” – these words are the heart of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). In 1923, Alice Paul, a women’s rights activist whose suffragist campaign culminated in passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, wrote the ERA. Congress passed the amendment in 1972 and sent it on to the states for ratification. In 1982, it came closest to being ratified when thirty-five of the thirty-eight states required for inclusion in the Constitution passed it. The amendment has been reintroduced into (and defeated by) every Congress since then. In the 113th Congress (2013 – 2015), the ERA was reintroduced as H.J. Res 56 by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who continues to call for the prohibition of “denying or abridging equal rights under law by the United States or any State on account of sex” as it was originally proposed in 1923.

Equal Pay Act: On June 10, 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, into law. The EPA “prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women in the same establishment who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions.” Administered and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the EPA attempts to fulfill the aspiration of equal pay for equal work and reduce the gender pay gap.

Notwithstanding the EPA, in 2013, the gender pay gap (unadjusted), or “a measure of unequal pay for women compared to men,” is still prevalent and persistent in the U.S. When the EPA was signed in 1963, women earned on average 59% of what men were paid – that is, 59 cents for every dollar men made. Fast forward 50 years: women earn on average 77% of what men are paid, or 77 cents for every dollar men make. That is an increase of less than 4 cents per decade.  A recent analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on the trajectory of the gender pay gap from 1960-2012 is an excellent illustration of how progress in shrinking the gap has stalled since 2002. While many blatantly sexist discriminatory practices in the workplace might have dissipated or transmutated over the years, unequal pay has not.

Fair Pay Act of 2013: Introduced on Jan 29, 2013 in the 113th Congress, 2013–2015. Status: Died in a previous Congress and was not enacted.  The Act sought to end wage discrimination against those who work in female- or minority-dominated jobs by establishing equal pay for equivalent work; it would have prohibited wage discrimination based on sex, race, or national origin. The Fair Pay Act made exceptions for different wages based on seniority, merit, or quantity/quality of work and contains an exemption for small businesses.

The gender pay gap affects all women, though it has never affected all women equally. According to a study that compared cross-racial/ethnic gender pay differentials in 2012, the median weekly earnings of women of all racial/ethnic groups were less than that of their male counterparts: 12% less among Hispanic or Latino/a, 10% less among African Americans, 19% less among Whites, and 27% less among Asian Americans. The median weekly wages of white men are higher than all others, as can be seen in this chart.


Brava to Patricia Arquette for raising awareness about this issue during the Academy Awards!  She had the floor. It was her moment. She had just won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and she was giving her acceptance speech. She had less than one minute to thank her body of people but instead of focusing exclusively on her “Thank You’s”, she put on her activist hat and brought up the issue of wage and gender inequality.  Here’s what she said:

Jesus. Thank you to the Academy, to my beautiful, powerful nominees to...[portion omitted]...my heroes, volunteers and experts who help me bring ecological sanitation to the developing world with Givelove.org.
To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights, it’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”



After she left the stage, later that evening she said to the press, "Equal means equal. The truth of it is the older an actress gets, the less money she makes. It’s inexcusable that we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and yet…we don’t have equal rights for women in America. It’s time for all the women in America and all the men who love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve fought for, to fight for us now.”  

To those of you who criticized Patricia Arquette’s speech and post-show comments, Shame On You!

She was not complaining about her life and she was not being “anti-intersectional” [intersectionality is a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another].  This was not a keynote speech on feminism and gender like the one Emma Watson presented at the U.N. headquarters in New York this past September.  Patricia Arquette earned her public platform at the Oscars and she CHOSE to speak up on behalf of ALL WOMEN, irrespective of color, sexual orientation, economic status, etc.  And those of you who referred to her as a “wealthy woman wearing an expensive designer gown” instead of a “crusader” and analyzed her statements more deeply than a Shakespeare sonnet, shame on you even more! Come on everyone...you know what she meant!

Yes, she read her speech from a scribbled note and her post-show words may not have been as eloquent as they could have been but her message was clear. In order to end wage and gender inequality, everyone needs to be involved to make a change, including men, boys, women, girls, both genders!  Patricia Arquette was not excluding or critiquing anyone. She was simply asking all individuals in our country, particularly those people who are part of groups who have likewise experienced inequality, to fight for wage and gender equality.

I guess it’s true that no good deed goes unpunished.

We need to stop holding equal rights advocates to an impossible standard of inclusiveness that is not applied to other social movements. Society’s expectation that when a woman like Patricia Arquette speaks about an issue of inequality that she herself has experienced, she must be speaking about the experience of all women, puts these women in a double bind that would have us not speak out at all.

Instead of tearing down women who raise awareness about important issues, let’s add more voices and perspectives to the conversation.

Respectfully submitted,
Lidia Szczepanowski, Esq.

Everything Lidia, Incorporated

Why Do We Pray?


The Power of Prayer...Click below to watch candid interviews with individuals from all walks of life on how they view prayer. 
Lidia Szczepanowski, Attorney, Entrepreneur, National Speaker, TV Host, and Lifestyle and Personal Safety Expert featured at 1:33. http://www.aarp.org/magazine/

Supplement to Blog Post by Lidia Szczepanowski, Esq. entitled “Analysis of the Grand Jury Proceeding and the Death of Eric Garner by Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo”

I believe in the U.S. Constitution and I believe in America. I also believe in our judicial system and in an individual’s right to protest and demonstrate when they disapprove of something or believe that change is necessary.  But what I don’t believe in and what frustrates the heck out of me are protesters and demonstrators who jump on someone else’s bandwagon and supporting a nebulous position or cause that is based primarily on rhetoric and emotion, not facts.

Since the Grand Jury came down with its decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the NYC Police Officer who caused the death of Eric Garner, there have been even more marches and demonstrations spreading various messages and slogans. Some protest leaders have stated that their message is “to stop police from murdering people” and others have promoted the phrase that “black lives matter.” Although these are valid and noble causes, we must question whether the “leaders” who are pushing these strong and sensitive messages are actually looking for a remedy to a problem or are they simply seeking publicity by inciting the emotions of crowds, which can of course lead to acts of violence such as the tragic death of innocent police officers.

Protests and demonstrations raise awareness about issues and they have been a fundamental right of the people of our country for hundreds of years.  In fact, they have led to important changes in our government and the laws of our land.  But once again we must ask....what exactly are the protesters demonstrating against or for?  What do the demonstrators really want? What are they really looking to do?  Do they want to change the laws regarding the legal use of force by the police and under what circumstances physical and/or deadly force is justified? (See i.e. NY Penal Law Sec. 35.30 which is entitled “Justification; use of physical force in making an arrest or in preventing an escape”). If that is the true issue then why aren’t the demonstration leaders focusing on summoning their state senators and assemblymen and other elected officials and asking them to review and possibly change existing laws? Why are they feeding on peoples’ emotions and trying to cause a divide in our communities and between law enforcement and citizens?

In New York City, crime is the exception rather than the rule. The city is the safest it has ever been and it has a police force of only about 34,000 serving over 8,000,000 residents. In 2013, NYC police officers’ discharged bullets from their weapons exactly 81 times compared to 312 times in 1993.  Does race have anything to do with alleged excessive use of force by the police? Would Eric Garner have died if he was a caucasian man with the same medical conditions? According to published statistics, in 2013 there were 6,261 black homicide victims in the U.S. – almost all killed by black civilians.  Black lives absolutely matter but to say that police are murdering black people is a ludicrous statement.
As was stated in my blog article entitled “Analysis of the Grand Jury Proceeding and the Death of Eric Garner by Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo”, [http://everythinglidiablog.blogspot.com/2014/12/analysis-of-grand-jury-proceeding-and.html#.VKK67V4Bds ] we may never know exactly what convinced at least 12 of the 23 jurors to vote against an indictment against Daniel Pantaleo.  But by coming down with their decision (despite the weeks of testimony, the photographs, the video and the plethora of other data), the Grand Jury found that there was insufficient evidence according to the law to justify the case going to trial. The jurors effectively declared that Garner’s death was, at worst, a horrible mistake, one that might amount to misconduct and that any crime that may have been committed by Pantaleo was excusable and justified under Sec. 35.30 of the N.Y. Penal Law.  If the Grand Jury’s decision was unjust or unfair, individuals and communities cannot blame the police, the public servants who put their lives at risk every day and who always show up when they are called....blame the law.
     

Protesters...if you truly desire change and want people to listen to and respect you, have a clear, logical and coherent message as well as a specific plan of action on how to bring about the change you are purportedly looking for.  Stop the rhetoric and stop inciting negativity and violence.  Demonstrate, protest and raise awareness about your message and reach out to your elected officials and ask that they review the laws regarding specific issues i.e  the use of physical force by police. But remember that in 1989 the U.S. Supreme Court barred courts from scrutinizing most of the split-second decisions cops make in the heat of the moment in the case Graham v. Connor.

And on a personal note, shame on you NYC Mayor DeBlasio for delineating a hostile racial divide between your family and the police by warning your own son to be aware of the cops.

Respectfully submitted,
Lidia Szczepanowski, Esq.

Analysis of the Grand Jury Proceeding and the Death of Eric Garner by Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo

Below is a basic legal analysis of the circumstances surrounding the death of Eric Garner and the subsequent decision by a New York Grand Jury not to indict the police officer involved in the incident.  This analysis was written utilizing information retrieved from various sources on the internet and it may be subject to correction.  


Factual Background
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York, after a police officer used a grappling hold around his neck for about 19 seconds. Some have described it as a chokehold, while others argue it was a submission hold or headlock and that no choking took place; the use of chokeholds is a violation of New York City Police Department (NYPD) policy but a submission hold is not.

When officers moved to arrest Garner on suspicion of selling "loosies" (single cigarettes) from packs without tax stamps, Garner pulled his arms away from officer Daniel Pantaleo and other officers, told the officers to leave him alone and he refused to be handcuffed.  Pantaleo then put his arm around the much taller Garner's neck, (Garner was 6-foot-3 and weighed 350 pounds, and suffered from heart disease, severe asthma, diabetes, obesity, and sleep apnea) and pulled him backwards and down onto the ground.  After Pantaleo removed his arm from Garner's neck, he pushed Garner's head into the ground while four officers moved to restrain Garner, who stated "I can't breathe" while lying face down on the sidewalk.  After Garner lost consciousness, officers turned him onto his side to ease his breathing. Garner remained lying on the sidewalk for several minutes while the officers waited for an ambulance to arrive. Upon information and belief, the officers and EMTs did not perform CPR on Garner at the scene because they believed that Garner was breathing and that it would be improper to perform CPR on someone who was still breathing.  He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital approximately one hour later.  The medical examiner found that compression of the neck and chest, along with Garner’s positioning on the ground while being restrained by police, caused his death but that Garner’s acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease were contributing factors.  

At the time of his death, Garner was out on bail after being charged with illegally selling cigarettes, driving without a license, marijuana possession and false impersonation.

Query:  Did Pantaleo commit any crimes? If so, were his actions justified?

The Grand Jury in New York
Under New York State law, unless the defendant consents, all felony cases must be presented to the Grand Jury.  Grand Juries are empowered to hear evidence presented by prosecutors, and to take various actions regarding the evidence and legal charges they are to consider.  The Grand Jury can also conduct independent investigations.  Grand Juries sit for a term of approximately one month.  Each Grand Jury is comprised of 23 citizens who hear and examine evidence concerning offenses and take action based on such evidence.

What Can a Grand Jury Do?
The Grand Jury can vote an indictment (a written statement charging an individual with the commission of a felony), direct the filing of a prosecutor's information (which contains non-felony charges), direct the removal of a case to Family Court, or issue a report.  For the first three actions, the Grand Jury must determine that the evidence is legally sufficient and that it provides reasonable cause to believe that the defendant has committed the crime.  Otherwise, the Grand Jury dismisses the matter.  If the Grand Jury votes an indictment, the case is adjourned to a Supreme Court Arraignment Part.

Are Grand Jury proceedings open to the public?
No. Grand Jury proceedings are secret and only specifically-authorized persons can be present.  In addition to the Assistant District Attorney (ADA) and the Grand Jurors, there is a stenographer and a Grand Jury Warden, who oversees administrative aspects of the proceedings.  The ADA is the legal adviser of the Grand Jury and examines all witnesses who testify before it, including any defendant or defense witnesses.  At least 16 Grand Jurors must be present for any Grand Jury to hear evidence and take action.  Furthermore, at least 12 of the members who have heard the evidence must agree before any affirmative action can be taken.

Limited Release of Evidence From Grand Jury Proceeding
The release of material by Staten Island Supreme Court Judge Stephen Rooney was made on the request of Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan “in the interest of assuring the public that the relevant evidence was presented” to the grand jury.  The disclosed details, some already public knowledge, were that:

--- The grand jury sat for nine weeks and heard from 50 witnesses, including 22 civilians.

--- Sixty exhibits were admitted into evidence, including four videos, crime scene photographs, four videos, medical records, autopsy photos and records pertaining to NYPD training.

--- The grand jury was instructed on relevant principles of law, including Penal Law Sec. 35.30 (below) regarding a police officer’s use of physical force by a police officer making an arrest.

--- The grand jury followed the proper procedure in reaching its decision not to indict Pantaleo.

N.Y. PENAL LAW § 35.30 entitled “Justification; use of physical force in making an arrest or in preventing an escape” provides in pertinent part as follows

1. A police officer or a peace officer, in the course of effecting or attempting to effect an arrest, or of preventing or attempting to prevent the escape from custody, of a person whom he or she reasonably believes to have committed an offense, may use physical force when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to effect the arrest, or to prevent the escape from custody, or in self-defense or to defend a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of physical force; except that deadly physical force may be used for such purposes only when he or she reasonably believes that:

(a) The offense committed by such person was:
(i) a felony or an attempt to commit a felony involving the use or attempted use or threatened imminent use of physical force against a person; or
(ii) kidnapping, arson, escape in the first degree, burglary in the first degree or any attempt to commit such a crime; or

(b) The offense committed or attempted by such person was a felony and that, in the course of resisting arrest therefor or attempting to escape from custody, such person is armed with a firearm or deadly weapon; or

(c) Regardless of the particular offense which is the subject of the arrest or attempted escape, the use of deadly physical force is necessary to defend the police officer or peace officer or another person from what the officer reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force. (emphasis added).

Our laws give police officers broad leeway to use force, either when they fear their lives are in danger or when they are making an arrest. The Supreme Court cemented the scope of that authority in 1989’s Graham v. Connor, in effect barring courts from scrutinizing most of the split-second decisions a cop makes in the heat of the moment.

While NYPD officers have broad authority to use force to apprehend a suspect, the department explicitly bars officers from using chokeholds, which have been blamed for the deaths of untold suspects over the past several decades.  City officials restricted the use of the dangerous maneuver in 1985—allowing it only when an officer’s life was in danger, and it was the “least dangerous alternative method of restraint”—before banning it outright in 1993. At the time, then-chief John Timoney summed up the policy shift like so: “Basically, stay the hell away from the neck.” Still, Timoney offered a caveat that he could imagine “extreme circumstances” in which an officer might have no other choice but to break the rule. 

However, according to a scientific research study entitled "Mechanism of loss of consciousness during vascular neck restraint" that appeared in the Journal of Applied Physiology, the findings emphatically refuted assertions that this valuable control technique was inherently dangerous and potentially lethal. 
"With the majority of subjects [in the study] rendered unconscious and, importantly, [with] no serious adverse events in our subjects, we conclude that VNR is a safe and effective force intervention," writes the lead researcher, Dr. Jamie Mitchell.  He hedges that statement by cautioning that "outcomes could vary" in some populations, such as unhealthy or older subjects, who were not part of the study.

If chokeholds are banned by the NYPD, why wasn’t Pantaleo indicted?
While Pantaleo’s use of the banned maneuver on Garner received significant scrutiny in the court of public opinion, it likely received much less consideration in the court of law. As stated by Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, “there is a difference between an act that is banned in the NYPD’s rulebook and one that is deemed criminal. There is no explicit law that criminalizes the use of a chokehold on someone either by a police officer or someone else.”

In the United States, police officers get the benefit of the doubt in most circumstances because they are putting their lives on the line every day and in many instances they must make split-second decisions in the heat of the moment.  

It’s tough to say whether Pantaleo should have reasonably expected his chokehold to end Garner’s life. Had he used a Taser, would there have been a similar result?
In a prepared statement following the Grand Jury’s announcement, Pantaleo said: “It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner.” 



We may never know exactly what convinced at least 12 of the 23 jurors to vote against an indictment of any kind against Pantaleo. But by deciding—despite the weeks of testimony, the photographs, the video and the plethora of other data -- that there was insufficient evidence to justify the case going to trial. The jurors effectively declared that Garner’s death was, at worst, a horrible mistake, one that might amount to misconduct but any crime that may have been committed by Pantaleo was excusable and justified under Sec. 35.30 of the N.Y. Penal Law.
Respectfully submitted,

Lidia Szczepanowski, Esq.

#Attorney, #Lifestyle Authority, #TheEverythingLidiaShow, #MrsCorpAmerica2013, #Entrepreneur, #Designer, #FounderNOWSA, #PersonalSafetyExpert #ClosetSuperHero

Tips, Secrets & Proven Strategies On How to Develop Your Personal Brand

Personal branding is “the art of building a unique brand around yourself as an individual” and it is just as important as your company’s brand and image.  Personal branding requires you to “find a signature image, a unique voice, and a recognizable standard that your readers, fans, and clients can grow to recognize”.

“Personal branding is becoming increasingly important because modern audiences tend to trust people more than businesses. Audiences are used to seeing advertising everywhere, and they tend to believe corporations and organizations take actions and speak with only sales in mind. Personal branding allows you to establish a reputation and an identity while still maintaining a personal level of trust and interaction, usually through social media.”

Additionally, people want to do business with other people, not with companies. A strong positive personal brand can dramatically improve the number of users who take a desired action i.e. retain you or go to your website and buy something.  
(Quoted sections above extracted from Inc.com article by  Jayson DeMers, Aug. 27, 2014)

Here are some tips, secrets and proven strategies on how to develop your personal brand.

1.) Become an “EXPERT” in at least one professional field or focus on a topic that you are knowledgeable about and start blogging and posting about it  
Develop yourself in a very specific niche and try not to come across as the “Jack of All Trades...Master at None.” Also consider discussing a hobby, sport or organizations you are involved with.  
Consider signing up with HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and answer applicable queries...you never know, you might be published in a newspaper, magazine, or on the internet  
Have someone pitch you and your expertise to local media, colleges, groups, etc., especially if your topic was recently in the news. Try not to self-promote...it annoys people.
Also have someone submit your name for consideration for awards and acknowledgments.  But remember that these events usually have a “cost” attached to them and you will be expected to sell tickets, seats or ads.   

2.) Set up and link accounts on various SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google Plus +  
Set up both personal and professional accounts but do not pitch them too frequently. Let people become interested in YOU first and YOU as the professional second.  Social media lets people discover who you are...and it’s free.  You control the information that is posted.  Be careful not to post inappropriate content or too many random and uninteresting photos. 
Anytime you speak or are mentioned in any article, share/post it and thank the host or author.

3.) VOLUNTEER your time with a CHARITY you feel connected to
You will meet like-minded individuals and you will expand your potential client base.
Offer pro bono legal services when appropriate. 

4.) Take at least a few PHOTOS at every events you attend
Post the photos on your social media sites and remember to acknowledge the event, the venue, the host and the people who were with you.  Most people love to see themselves in photos...and it’s great PR! 
Be careful not to over expose yourself by attending too many events or posting too many photos.

5.) Create and email a NEWSLETTER
Take all those business cards you’ve accumulated over the years and create a data base and email list using Mail Chimp, Constant Contact or a similar service. These services all offer templates to design a unique Newsletter. 
Cover topics that highlight your professional acumen but also include some human interest content.

~Lidia Szczepanowski, Esq.

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