It's been a long hard slog to get through 2016 and not fall behind in my work. Actually impossible: as it stands, I'm still working on new catch-up tax return sets for Americans overseas who became aware of their filing obligations to the IRS last year - and those are soon completed!
You are welcome to contact me if you need to file US tax returns and are an American overseas. I continue to do this work and plan to work with another PTIN-registered preparer to take on new clients.
So what is the purpose of this blog post? It's more a short memo on the changing of the year, 2016 to 2017.
1. You and I have less time to discuss the grave social and political needs of U.S. citizens, despite needing to do so more than ever, as we look towards Trump soon taking the presidency, a fact that instills fear and desperation in the hearts of millions of Americans.
2. Tax news facts and tax return news are of special interest. I will be keeping my listed and accepted clients informed on these in my tax client newsletters.
3. Communicative messages are now being relayed with ever-increasing brevity. This removes the value of the essay, the writer's development of a train of thought and argument. The entire capacity of our intelligence and mental capabilities is short-circuited into drops of meaning no larger than, well, a teardrop or a bird's small twitter. Instead of crying, at the moment, I'm doing my best with it - by visiting Twitter and Facebook and using them to share messages and articles I believe are of special interest to my readers.
4. I am also working on writing longer works for publication. My writing to publish dream is not over and my determination to continue with my projects is stronger than ever. These will be given their time to ripen during 2017. Perhaps a flower of publication will bloom this year or next.
5. You will find me on Facebook at the Facebook page, Edvenson Consulting. Feel free to 'like' this page and you may find yourself receiving weekly updates with an article or two to share and enjoy. You will also find me on Twitter at: pelicanposts. There, I'm making more regular small comments when news of special interest pops up - news or assertions in need of an intelligent reply or remark.
6. The status of legal cases and stories I've worked on is dismaying:
John Kristoffer Larsgard remains in Arizona prison, despite being eligible for transfer out of country to his own nation to finish his term - which has been lengthened repeatedly for supposedly bad behavior, such as attempting to assist a fellow inmate in returning his jacket to his room after a visit. A court case he brought against the system was nearly won when at the very last moment (jury had already deliberated) the judge called for the jury to stand down - thus permitting an out-of-court settlement no one will talk about, a nearly entire travesty of justice just continued and continuing. The bad prison treatment then continues, the isolation continues, the injustice continues. Tell me something different and I'll publish it.
The state of mixed American-Norwegian children in Norway whose Norwegian mothers continue to mis-behave and violate Norwegian and international rights law and get away with it - refusing visitations, making up stories to ward off American fathers out of country, are sick and sad. They are examples of the very worst in human behavior - the behavior that looks away from "the best interests of the child" to the "the best interests of me" but gets it wrong: they are wrong and their arguments are wrong. The attorneys they hire in Norway are wrong and should be embarrassed to evade the law so brazenly in their representations. Their antics are effective without using much money and the Norwegain courts should do more to put a stop to it: they should permit out-of-country parents the right to sue in Norwegian courts and have court fees paid by the state during the court process. The state should then recoup those fees from the violater - yes, the little mother and her nasty attorney. This is the sad status of not one, but two stories I have worked with for years. It suits Norway to behave as if their system is perfectly in tune with international treaties and requirements when, in practice, it sucks. Yes, I did say that, sorry.
And that's just the 'tip of the iceberg' for me related to my work, Americans in America and Americans overseas.
So, with that, let's say: Happy New Year, 2017: may all injustices be righted in this year, and may those who have brought them about be punished and their influences removed. May those who follow the law live long and well, and may those who do not cooperate, abuse their position, and villify rightness - and, as well, place their personal goals above those of the public's health, safety and welfare - fail miserably.
Monday, January 9, 2017
Monday, October 31, 2016
Dangerous Moves at the FBI – Why?
I’m an American attorney. I live in Norway where I work. Luckily, I also have a few weeks each year when I can get to the U.S., and therefore this article comes from the Florida side of my life. The news in Florida is often considered to be THE weirdest. This state gets that reputation from real news (Just one evidentiary collection is found at: http://brobible.com/life/article/outrageous-florida-stories-2015/ ), as well as from the hilarious-but-serious literary efforts of authors such as Carl Hiassen.
But now that I am once again in Florida, the weirdest news I’ve heard is the news that the Director of the FBI is, um, copying Trump. Yes, folks: he’s making un-substantiated allegations that Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, which have been thoroughly gone through by him and his staff, are on the table again – or, well, some others that might not be the same as the ones that were already on the table – but, then again, may be the same ones that were already found to be basically okay. . . even if he didn’t think she should have used the internet e-mail server she was using (as if we, the average smart and educated person, by the way, knows about what internet server to use in an effective and realistically applicable way).
The Director’s latest ‘announcement’ – coming 9 days before Election Day? – is so OUT of ORDER that I, and many other people - even Trump supporters and conservative Republicans - are amazed and disturbed.
Therefore, I thought I would put this into perspective. How? By trying to determine why it would have happened. . . .
On a dark and windy night, in October, 2016:
(Tree branches rattle against the office window. The wind is whipping harshly tonight)
At a secret meeting in the FBI Director’s office, the day before his announcement, we join the ongoing conversation:
Paul Ryan: Listen, Jim, I just can’t help it. I wouldn’t be here if I could! I mean, she’s killing Trump on the campaign trail. So what if it’s with facts and figures – what are we going to do if the Republican party is shown up as the complete charade it seems to be today? I mean, we NEED HELP, Jim! We have to have something to show for our campaign - besides Trump’s big-mouthed retorts, over and over again, about Hillary e-mails. They just don’t ‘stick’ anymore.
Director James Comey: Well, you could have come up with a f----g political agenda. You know, a platform! What kind of party are you anyway? Bunch of do-nothings. It’s not MY job to save your a---. Go on back out there and just mumble something about looking forward to getting your troops back into Congress – so you can boss them around some more about why they shouldn’t do anything for anyone except the NRA.
Paul Ryan: Now, that’s cutting it too close. I couldn’t help it. You saw how Trump took over the Republican debates before the nomination convention. It was pathetic: no one could stand up there on that stage with him and get in a decent word edgewise! Even Jeb Bush bowed out, and he’s a seasoned politician with a good record.
And now we’re stuck. We need your help! You’ve GOT to re-open this e-mail topic, it’s our last chance.
Director James Comey: What do I get for it? You know, I can sit in this office for 10 years either way.
Paul Ryan: Well, what about the limelight? You’d be the star of the Republican party – at least as long as you couldn’t finish any new ‘reviews’ until after the election. It could help me keep my Congressional waistcoat buddies on my team, and you know how we like to waste taxpayer dollars.
Director James Comey: You know, Paul, you’re a heartless jerk. But I can see a glimmer of light here. We’re still working on Weiner’s investigation. Maybe I could tie some new e-mail inquiry to that.
Paul Ryan: Weiner? Oh, that’d be great: everyone hates that prick already – except his online girlfriends I guess. Yeah, definitely tie him to Hillary news and e-mails. IT’ll double our pleasure! A knock-out punch.
Director James Comey: I’m still trying to figure out what I get for it. After all, you know, I’m not supposed to do anything that might politically affect the election, especially for the months headed towards Election Day. I mean, it’s just 10 days away! And there are rules about this.
Paul Ryan: F—k the rules. We’re highlighting your important power in this situation. The Director of the FBI has been a mole since Hoover left office. And McCarthyism is on the way back ‘in’, anyway: you can see it in the eyes of Trump’s followers! They love to scream for the blood of their supposed enemies, even if they are some of the people who would benefit most from supporting Hillary.
But you’re getting me off my game. Tell me, when was the last time the national press noticed you?
Director James Comey: Well, it must’ve been . . . let’s see . . . No, listen, I’ve already been quoted as saying that “I don’t give a hoot about politics.”
Paul Ryan: Well, that’s your approach, then: if you don’t give a hoot about politics, then what difference does it make to YOU that Election Day is only 10 days away? Just damn the torpedoes and let’s go! Give her the black-eye - again, Jim, and now.
Director James Comey: Yeah, well, we get so bogged down with small stuff - spending time keeping track of how many cops are killing how many non-aggressive citizens, catching health fraud guys, the idiots joining ISIS, the Ponzi scheme guys and the bank fraud guys. WE could use a bigger story again – I miss it.
Paul Ryan: That’s right – you miss it, and you said already you don’t have to follow the Justice Department’s rules when you’ve made up your own personal judgement on something. So just go for it.
Director James Comey: Alright, but I’ll have to say something extremely non-specific: after all, I don’t have anything more specific to say about it. I just wished she’d had more IT security at the State Department. But I can ‘milk’ it for you, Paul.
I’m still going to come back to you later – I’ll need the strong word of the Republicans, if they win, to keep from being investigated for this.
Ah, what the hell – I hate those committees too. F—k them. I can do whatever I want to do. As J. Edgar Hoover said, “Justice is incidental to law and order.” Plus, if Hillary wins, there are going to be so many social and cultural initiatives, I’ll be crying to Congress for a bigger budget – and you’ll have to give it to me, won’t you, Paul?
Paul Ryan: Anything for you, Jim. Just get going and get this insinuation out to the press.
Director James Comey: Alright alright, now get outtahere - before someone sees you.
(Paul Ryan departs the office.)
Director James Comey: Snake. (Peers up to the portrait of J. Edgar Hoover) John Edgar, like you said, “I am government man, come from the government. The government has sent me.” That oughtta be enough.
Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.
By June Edvenson
Sunday, October 9, 2016
Congress: Give Republicans What They Deserve
The NPR commentator says, “Why?” Why have Republicans suddenly decided to abandon their support of Trump? Especially noting that those in ‘battleground states’ who are running for Congress as Republicans are taking a very active role in that abandonment.
Journalist 2 replies, saying, “That’s a real good question!”
Really? You think so?
And Paul Ryan? Showing up at a rally to say that, despite the fact that he is not there to talk about Trump’s sexist comments, frankly he is really disgusted personally – and he really wonders what the heck is not right with a certain candidate for, you know, President.
Gee, I’m feeling a little clairvoyant then: I think I know why. And Paul, I’m really disgusted with, well, your disingenuous disgust. Because what is going on here is precision-driven. This party has had to – and has been planning for a long while to - derail or split their support at the last minute if Trump turned out to be the crazy candidate he always promised to be – because, well, actual Republican Senators and real Republican House members, are trying to be re-elected. Or elected.
So let’s GLOAT OVER the PEOPLE’S POWER to change the course of Congress!
Who’s on the ballot? How many Senators are affected? How many Representatives are involved? Standing Republicans seeking re-election themselves or seeking to get another Republican elected to their already-Republican state or district?
I have been saying (for years) that we must get rid of the current Congress and get a new Congress, one that will actually do something. I could say, instead, do something good.
So, just to be clear, these are the people who spent THE LAST YEARS FAILING to coordinate politically with both the other side and our President, Barack Obama, and did nothing (except for themselves, the NRA and their own favorite pork projects) while holding high office.
These are the Republican Senators to VOTE AGAINST:
Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)Roy Blunt (Missouri)
John Boozman (Arkansas)
Richard Burr (North Carolina)
Dan Coat’s seat (Indiana)
Mike Crapo (Idaho)
Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
John Hoeven (North Dakota)
Johnny Isakson (Georgia)
Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)
Mark Kirk (Illinois)
James Lankford (Oklahoma
)Mike Lee (Utah)
John McCain (Arizona)
Jerry Moran (Kansas)
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
Rand Paul (Kentucky)
Rob Portman (Ohio)
Marco Rubio (Florida)
Tim Scott (South Carolina)
Richard Shelby (Alabama)
John Thune (South Dakota)
Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania)
David Vitter’s seat (Louisiana)
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Greetings from Norway: Follow the Money, Panama Papers
The Panama Papers are a real hit in the Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten. Each day, new revelations follow, along with the obfuscations and changing explanations of DNB Bank’s President, Rune Bjerke. I have to admit I found him a jerk when I called him accidentally some years ago. (There is another Rune Bjerke in the Oslo area who should not be confused with this man.) DNB’s president kept me on the phone, mocking me in a continuing spiral of chatter meant to make me feel timid, small and apologetic for simply having reached the wrong phone number. But now I am already digressing.
What should a bank do with its money? And what should the Norwegian bank (that would be: DNB) do when the State of Norway is an owner? Not just banks – there are several companies with important global operations – in oil, technology, minerals, manufacturing – that are partially or majority owned by the State of Norway.
Beate Sjafjell has written a critique in the Aftenposten that I found interesting. I’d like to share it with you. This article appeared in the Aftenposten, Norway’s leading newspaper, the only Norwegian paper involved in the Panama Papers research activity. Beate Sjåfjell is a Norwegian attorney and Law School Faculty at the Norwegian Law School of the University of Oslo.
Her article, translated by me below, was published only in Norwegian. I am translating it here into what I call ‘transparent English’ so that others will see it and read it. . . . And ask related questions.
It’s key to raising not only questions about how the Norwegian state manages the mega-billions it holds in its ‘Oil Fund’, now called the ‘Pension Fund’, but it also begs the question I’m trying to see the answer to – even in the Panama Papers revelations: Where is the money going? Follow the money? Where does the money lead it? Not just to Panama . . .
After all, when the money gets to Panama, someone wants it there for a price. The price they’ll pay for that means they are interested in borrowing it or using it while it is ‘parked there’ - for some other, further purpose. That purpose could be economic activity involving drugs, illegal trade in arms, even legal trade in arms, trade in humans, body parts, medicines - any commodity for which there is sought a market underneath the ‘white market' radar system and into the (non-taxed or lower-taxed) black market, any objective that makes someone else a lot of money at less expense and means more profits in more secret private pockets related to more secret goals and, well, nasty, unfair or unethical activities.
As my favorite audit manager supervisor, Kevin Carhill, always said, “Follow the money.” I’m trying, but I don’t see the end of the Panama Papers trail yet. I really hope we do!
It’s hard to prove a negative, but you tell me: can I be positive that not one single Norwegian crown (kroner) has gone to buy one single gun in Syria? One single bomb in the Middle East?
Then there is a habit, apparent in Norway’s State company ownership interests, of not asking hard questions in the right forum. Where I come from (Illinois), at least we had The Open Meetings Act, even if politicians and cronies were busy hustling around avoiding it when they wanted to break, in particular, the labor laws. And we had the Corporations Act, which told owners (and shareholders) of companies how to behave when they made decisions. Norway should take a lesson in this.
Here is Beate’s article I enjoyed so much. The sub-titles and cut-out quotes are scattered around, unfortunately, making it a bit harder to follow. Still, fantastic work. Thank you, Professor Sjåfjell, for your insights and suggestions:
“Government failed shareholdings
The Norwegian State’s Ownership Report provides no indications that the government will deal with the extremely harmful and short-term pressure for maximum profit. This comes at the expense of social responsibility.
What do Yara, Statoil, Telenor, Hydro, Kongsberg, DNB Bank, and Kvaerner have in common? They all have the State as a shareholder (indirectly on Kvaerner’s part), and all have, during recent times, been accused of being involved in crimes or unethical conduct. How can this happen with a government shareholder who claims to have clear expectations of social responsibility?
Profit before corporate social responsibility
The Norwegian Minister of Business argues that the state is clear that profit should not be at the expense of legal and corporate governance (White Paper 27 (2013-2014, "A diverse and value-creating ownership - "Ownership Report"). The Ownership Report shows the opposite. It states emphatically repeatedly that the main objective is the maximization of profits/returns.
The state has no legal obligation to always do what maximizes profits.
Government expectations for corporate social responsibility are, in content, praiseworthy. But they are coming long after the message, sandwiched in between the expectations of the highest possible returns and guidelines on executive pay.
Neither returns nor executive pay are explicitly related to social responsibility. The main point is profitability. Working with social responsibility should help to "protect shareholder value." One fourth of the pages in the 122-page message are devoted to adhering and expectations concerning social responsibility.
Missing the will to lead
The Ownership Report points out the problem as companies with many small shareholders, who can be seen to be without strong shareholder control – i.e. "ownerless" companies. The state obviously does not consider that the same applies to a company with a state majority shareholder - who dares not run it.
The bottom line is profitability. Work with social responsibility should help to "protect shareholder value."
The state is in a double role as a public shareholder, whether passive or active. The state seems to want to manage its dual role by giving the impression of being aloof and not exerting direct influence on these companies.
The government can exercise authority at the AGM (the Annual General Meeting)
The state claims that it cannot do more than choose a competent board. That is wrong. At the AGM, shareholders exercise the highest authority in the company. Here, the State has, as majority shareholder (in Telenor, Statoil, and Kongsberg) control; and as a large minority shareholder (in Yara, Hydro, DNB Bank, Kvaerner Aker Holding) significant influence.
The state has no legal obligation to always do what maximizes profit. The State could, through selected, strategic decisions at the AGM meetings, show that, for example, zero tolerance for corruption means “saying No, thanks” to some projects. The State’s capacity and opportunity for influence, both nationally and internationally, is formidable.
Missing Transparency in Company Shareholder meetings (AGMs)
Instead, the state uses the AGM to elect the board and to “sprinkle sand” (slow down progress) on their proposals. The state argues that it addresses important questions in the so-called ownership meetings between State department staff and company leaders.
The state is breaking with its own principles of good corporate governance: There should be transparency knitted into the ownership activity, and decisions and resolutions should be conducted at the AGM meeting. The ‘ownership dialogue’ should be tied, in addition, to the AGM, not be replaced by other meetings.
The state should be an active and socially responsible shareholder
The state is afraid to scare off other investors. Consideration of other shareholders and the market means that the government’s representatives should refrain from partisan political power activity and other arbitrariness.
There is little that separates the state from a private profit-maximizing shareholder.
This does not mean that the state should refrain from being an active and socially responsible shareholder and only try to influence decisions in closed meetings. Active and socially responsible share ownership activities can be conducted in a predictable and orderly manner within the framework of company law and ethical principles and in line with the government's own overall objectives and international obligations.
The hunt for current profit maximization
Short-term profit maximization pressures make it difficult for companies to propose tough enough requirements when they enter into corrupt countries. The Ownership Report itself notes that leaders are feeling the pressure for short-term profit maximization as a growing problem.
Public shareholding company direction could propose greater long-term focus and a willingness to put social responsibility before profit, also in the form of proposing an ultimatum for transparency in business dealings with all corrupt regimes.
Long-term focus is mentioned - with exception
Instead, we see that the message emphasizes, time after time, that the main consideration is maximization of invested capital, and when long-term focus is mentioned, the need for continued short-term returns at the same time is emphasized.
The consultant network, such as PWC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) is a part of, and among those whose facilitation has given us the Panama Papers scandals.
The signal is that profit is the goal and all else should be managed as well as one can, with the exception that it must support the goal of maximizing profits. There is little that separates the state from a private profit-maximizing shareholder. There is nothing that suggests that the state should have settled and agreed to something of extreme damage, or short-term pressure for maximum profit.
What is the Department of Business doing?
The Norwegian Department of Business, which has the overarching responsibility for the state’s shareholder ownership management, has asked the Attorney firm within Price Waterhouse Coopers for help. PWC should discuss and report on the companies and the Department follow up messages concerning owner’s expectations to work against corruption and towards transparency in economic transactions well enough.
Secretiveness is just a symptom.
The consultant network sits on all sides of the table
These consulting networks, such as PWC, are a part of, and are among those additional agents who have given us the Panama Papers scandal. These consultant communities are sitting on all sides of the table, alongside, preparing the ground for the owners’ reports, facilitating services of the companies, and then evaluating whether the companies and the state government’s ownership activities work well enough.
That a consultancy environment that is so well integrated into this system, which obviously does not work, should be the one to give systemic, thoroughly persuasive assessments of what is the problem and what should be changed should be unthinkable. Unless the government takes a completely different grip, we ought to expect new scandals.”
-June Edvenson is a former Illinois State Senior Auditor. She worked as an auditor for the State of Illinois for 7 years in Springfield and Chicago. She also is a former Hearing Office and Administrative Law Judge. She is an American attorney now living and working in Norway.
Friday, January 29, 2016
John Kristoffer Larsgard – Consistent Sabotage
At the risk of putting this Norwegian citizen at greater risk of harm than he already is exposed to in Arizona state prison, let us look more closely at what we know since his prison sentence began. I would like to tie this to what is happening now, however, in part due to its urgency. See, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate,” as Paul Newman put it in the film, Cool Hand Luke. Kris has sought to argue, since he was first placed in the Navajo County Jail, that he required medical attention – care, treatment and medicines he did not receive. He has, since, also sought to argue that his sentence was excessive. He has tried to study the law and has written his own motions (in English) to achieve re-hearing. Meanwhile, both prison administrators and medical care authorities have consistently sabotaged both his physical and mental well-being for no other purpose than to disrupt and ‘route’ his efforts, causing them to come to nothing. You can try to draw another conclusion from what I write here, but it is hard to argue that every prisoner is treated in this way. Sure, no one is perfect, but no one deserves to be treated as Kris has been in the time between September 24, 2011 and today.
Let’s start with this month, January, 2016. Kris was seen by a medical professional who confirmed on January 12th that Kris should be kept on the pain and anti-seizure medications he has been taking, including methadone. You know methadone is habit-forming, similar to heroin and is used to treat heroin addicts? Apparently, methadone helps Kris with the constant pain he has experienced since the “spinal cord injury of 2013” which occurred in Arizona prison. The professional also recommends updated imaging of the cervical and thoracic spine and recommends he see a neurologist. Other suggestions for possible spinal cord care were encouraged in the letter report.
Yet, on January 19th, he is brought from the detention unit he was in to an observation room where he is confronted by the nurse who earlier sabotaged his care in April of 2015 at another prison, Florence prison. The prison had discontinued two of his medications and he had complained, which was why she was seeing him. She indicated she had discontinued the two medications because she ‘did not believe they were appropriate treatment’ for him. She also said she was discontinuing methadone because “you just want drugs.” (Note the Catch-22.) Kris states that he tried calmly to tell her that the drugs were actually helping him function and without them he was in excruciating pain. The nurse then tells him that this is “decided” and that Kris will have to learn to ‘function without drugs for pain.’ She indicates they will (again) send him to a pain management specialist. Kris says he just saw a pain management specialist who suggested the medications be continued. The nurse indicates that that appointment was irrelevant – because she had not been the one who requested it.
The nurse emphasizes again that she will not give him any medications for pain and adds, “But you can grieve my decision because I know you like to file grievances and lawsuits.” The nurse then continues, stating that she will be removing Kris’s wheelchair. Reader, his walker was already removed from him on December 1, 2015 – why? Because he was being sent into a detention unit, similar to solitary, which has nothing to do with a person’s need to, well, actually walk around their room, if at all possible. The nurse then suggests he ‘learn to walk’ and insinuates that Kris did not have a spinal cord injury when, in actual fact, all the professionals involved in his surgery in 2013, as well as the one who wrote the letter one week earlier, recognize that he does. Kris then realizes that the nurse has had no intention of treating him by arranging this ‘appointment.’
Kris tells her that when he has a walker, he uses it, and he also needs a wheelchair – so he can go more than a few yards at a time. He mentions that he knows he will need that because he has a court appearance within about a month, a case he has managed to get some assistance with to file. The nurse insists that (despite the fact that Kris will continue to be in the custody of the state at all times), he cannot keep his wheelchair, and will have to figure out how to manage to get to court and appear there without it. As she tells him, to the following effect, ‘I’m just not going to allow you to believe and portray that you have an injury to people when it’s not true and hurts my colleagues.’ Kris begins to check out – I mean, he begins to lose control, is crying, is having flashbacks of being on the floor for three weeks at Yuma prison, and finally some other prison administrators arrive. Kris in the wheelchair has been slammed back against the wall, you see. He is worried about his neck as a result. Another medical nurse arrives, who presses on his neck, supposedly to prove that no new injury has just occurred. Kris is then seen by a psychology associate and returned to his cell.
What you have just read makes as much sense as Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky: “’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves and the mome raths outgrabe. ‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun the frumious Bandersnatch.’” Well, reader, should we go on? Into the heart of going crazy?
What would drive you crazy – or anger you to the point of being made crazy? Having an extremely serious injury, caused and exacerbated by those in control of you, people who not only decided intentionally to permit you to suffer with it, but also made it impossible for you to get well or get better – and who would also make it impossible for you to make your case, that you did not belong there or, at the least, required consistent medical care and pain management? And what if you thought you were in a new ‘home’ but they kept moving you around? What if, every time they moved you, you were not permitted to keep almost anything you had managed to acquire? This would include things such as paper, notes, books, research, your own writing? What if you were moved sometimes in the middle of the night, awoken and told to prepare to be taken to a new location, a new cell? What if you were told you could bring nothing with you? And everything you were working on in order to make your case was, as a result consistently taken from you? What if, when you asked for those items, you were told they were “lost”?
Let us descend to another level of the hell that Kris has managed, to date, to survive in the Arizona prison system – how, you say? By reviewing his transfer record of course. It’s in black and white. Granted, some of those transfers are related to his need for medical attention, but, as his mother puts it, “I know that many of the moves were because he had such torturing pain. Then they would move him to isolation and say it was psychiatric. At one point, he got psychiatric medications from a psychiatrist, but these were not for Kris – they gave him terrible nightmares.” Liv continues, “And in one case a health worker took Kris for a talk. He said to Kris, ‘But how do you feel’. Kris said the pain and spasms were so bad that it would be better to die. The worker said ‘You are not allowed to say anything like that. I will have to start a disciplinary case again you for saying that.’ And they did – they made a disciplinary case out of that, put Kris in isolation – of course in pain without medications. This is just an example of how they operate.”
So what does the Arizona prison system think is the reasonable care of a human being, a Norwegian who drove wrongly down the wrong street, tried to turn around and leave and instead, scared some kids and got his nose broken by a local bully? The following year, the local prosecutor got a special award for his efforts to enhance community safety and security.* (*See earlier blog posts in this series for more information.)
With his nose broken, Kris was jailed in Navajo County jail, beginning on the afternoon of September 24, 2011 in Winslow. His bail was set to $1 million dollars for that alleged crime so he was effectively trapped. Seven months later he was transferred to the Arizona state prison ‘reception’ facility at Alhambra. And here begins the dramatic, incredible and heart-breaking list of his transfers to date.
Transferred May 10, May 21, June 20, July 16, July 20, October 28, 2012
On May 10th, 2012, Kris was transferred to Lewis-Stiner prison, then on May 21 to Lewis-Bachman, on June 20 to Yuma-Cibola, on July 16 to Yuma, CMU, on the 20th back to Yuma Cibola, and on October 28, 2012 to Yuma CMU, the isolation unit.
This October 28th transfer to the Yuma CMU unit was because, as Liv puts it, he was, on October 25th suddenly attacked from the back by an unknown person who kicked his head causing him to fall down. He was in such pain, but the doctors would not prescribe pain medication. He was therefore sent to isolation without medications. Liv believes this attack was arranged for by the health care provider at the time, who was miffed at Kris’s repeated ‘Health Need Requests,’ written and submitted by Kris.
It was at this point that Kris had the seizure that resulted in his falling backwards in his cell on December 3, 2012. One deputy warden told Liv they could see how much pain he was in after this and told the medical administration – who did nothing.
Transferred December 19 & 26, 2012
Finally, on December 19th he was transferred to Tucson – Rincon unit, a medical unit where they claimed he was faking being ill. This month he was in ‘mental health watch,’ which meant Kris could not possess any writing instrument, and therefore could not write complaints and requests for care he wished to write.
Finally, on December 26th he was transferred to Tucson – Winchester. On December 30th 2012, Liv got her first phone call from Kris in which he told her he was very ill. While at Winchester, he was unable to walk and had little feeling in his left hand and side. As a result, some inmates there borrowed a wheelchair and helped take care of him themselves.
Transferred January 1, February 6, 2013
Finally, on January 1st, 2013 he was – literally - dragged to medical care. He was given a CT scan and sent immediately to the University of Arizona Medical Center for emergency surgery. After surgery he was guarded in the hospital during post-operative recovery. There he was threatened with violence by one guard monitoring him after Kris, while trying to re-adjust himself in bed, bumped the TV remote control the guard had left there, causing the channel to change while the guard watched TV.
On February 6, 2013, he was released from the hospital and transferred to Tucson prison’s health unit.
Transferred May 9, May 10, May 14, 2013
Then, in May, 2013, he was transferred 3 times, from Tucson prison’s Whetstone unit to the Rincon health unit and then to the Rincon psychiatric unit, a unit reserved for the seriously ill psychiatric prisoners, also not Kris and not a medical unit.
Transferred June 22, June 25, August 6, 2013
Kris’s next transfer occurred a bit over a month later, on June 22nd, 2013, to Rincon SNU Unit M. There he was, according to his mother, ‘disappeared’ for three days. Later, he told his mother how they came in the evening, stripped him naked and put him in an isolation cell. The walls and floor had excrement and blood all over them. Kris asked for a blanket and was given a rug covered with blood. The guard then said, “You are not worthy to have anything else.” This was done, he was led to believe, according to Liv, as a retaliation for his having spoken to the Norwegian reporter from VG, the Norwegian newspaper, for a short interview on June 14, 2013.
On June 25th, 2013, Kris was transferred back to the Tucson Rincon psychiatric unit, not an appropriate placement for him, where he spent most of the summer. He was then transferred to Tucson’s Manzanita Unit on August 6th, a medium-security prison designed to “help inmates prepare themselves to rejoin the wider community.” There, he was kept for the next 7 months, during which time he was to wear a large neck-body brace-girdle he had gotten after his surgery. He was also supposed to be seen by a neurologist and a pain specialist.
Transferred March 12, March 12, March 12, March 12 & March 13 2014
After an assisting attorney filed a motion to secure Kris’s re-examination, which was not happening, he was transferred on March 10, 2014 for a CT scan at the University of Arizona Medical Center. After that exam, Corizon health personnel stated they had decided that Kris was now completely well and did not need any medical care. They wished to send him to Yuma prison, where his neck was broken in the first place. During one single day, while Kris contemplated being returned to his former place of torturous ill treatment (the three weeks on the floor place with no medical assistance or examination – see Blog post 6), he was transferred to 4 different units in a period of 24 hours. That was March 12, 2014. First, he was sent to Tucson’s Whetstone prison, then to Tucson’s Complex Detention Unit, then back to Whetstone and then to the Rincon psychiatric unit (which was inappropriate for him). These transfers were effected in what is called in Norwegian a ‘glattcelle’ – a cage designed to protect persons from hurting themselves or others - such as those which, in February, 2014, were judged by the state of Norway to violate human rights. The day after the 4 transfers, March 13, 2014, Kris was sent to the Tucson Manzanita Detention Unit, a solitary style holding cell. Here he was kept for 5 days.
Transfers and attempted transfer March 18, March 27, March 28, March 29, March 30, March 31, 2014
On March 18, 2014, the Arizona prison system tried to transfer Kris to Yuma prison. Kris was chained onto a bus headed for Yuma. On the bus, Kris had a seizure, in part due to having been taken off of his medications. “Fortunately,” writes Liv, his mother, “the bus had rubber mats on the floor.” The bus returned Kris to Manzanita where an ambulance was called. Kris was then taken to the hospital in Tucson where he received necessary medications and was then sent back to the detention unit at Manzanita prison.
It was just a few days later on March 27th that they again came, early in the morning, to Kris and told him they were taking him to a neurology appointment. Kris was then taken directly to Yuma prison without any appointment.
As Liv says, “Yuma prison is like a death sentence for Kris. They have just a small hospital and no medical unit. But since Corizon reported him completely well and in no need of medications, he was being sent into a no-treatment situation.”
Of course, things could not go well for Kris here, who needed both medications and regular medical care. One day after arrival, he was transferred to Yuma’s Dakota C unit, the next day to Yuma’s Dakota CLOS unit, the next day, March 30th, 2014, to Yuma’s Dakota Isolation unit and the next day to Yuma’s La Paz unit. Here, he managed to live in one room for 17 days in a row.
Transferred April 17, May 2, October 18, November 3, December 25, December 26, 2014
On April 14, he was moved to Yuma’s Dakota unit again. Here, he managed to live for 14 days in a row before being moved again to Yuma’s La Paz unit. Here he managed to survive another 5 ½ months before being moved to Yuma’s Dakota unit again, where he stayed until November 3, 2014 when he was finally transferred away from Yuma, to Florence prison East unit.
But, sadly, it was at the Florence prison that the local health providers (Corizon health) began their determined efforts to remove him – again - from necessary pain medications and treatment, using persistent efforts to sabotage his health, both physically and mentally. From Florence’s East unit on November 3, he was transferred on December 25th to Florence’s Kasson M unit. Then, back again on December 26 to the Florence East unit.
Transferred April 27, 2015
January, 2015 lead on to February, March and April. On April 27, 2015, Kris was transferred to the Eyman prison’s detention unit. This transfer was brought about by Corizon health staff after stopping Kris’s pain medications on April 21st. But why was he transferred? He had an appointment with a pastor of the Norwegian Sjømannskirke (Seamen’s Church, with worldwide locations, this pastor from the church in San Francisco), a meeting that was approved and set up for the morning of April 27, 2015. When the pastor arrived, Kris was not there – because he had been transferred away in the early morning hours – in other words, in the middle of the night. This visit from a representative of a Norwegian state organization, whose primary duty is to lend comfort and support to Norwegians around the world, was intentionally sabotaged by Arizona prison authorities.
Transferred May 20, May 25, June 4, June 26, June 29 & July 6, 2015
From Eyman prison, he was transferred about one month later to Lewis prison’s detention unit, and 5 days later to Lewis’s Stiner unit, then 11 days later to Lewis’s Buckley unit. This was on June 4, 2015. There, he was able to call Liv, and told her he was warned by some prisoners that Corizon staff had told lies about him – in order to make some prisoners take him and hurt him. Liv felt lucky that Kris had just recently been given the right to call her, which right had been denied for about 5 months. Liv reported what Kris said to an attorney who assisted him and contacted the prison, where Kris was sent into detention, which they felt was an effort to save his life.
On June 26, he was sent to Lewis’s Bachman unit and 3 days later back to Lewis prison’s Stiner unit C. Making it 4 transfers in about 4 weeks, he was transferred to Lewis prison’s Morey unit on July 6, 2015.
But let’s give the Arizona prison system a break here. They were after all attempting, on July 1st, 2015, to respond to a major prison riot uprising at the Kingman prison complex, where the prisoners were not fighting each other but against inhuman prison conditions. As a result of this uprising, a total of 2,404 inmates had to be moved quickly to some other prison, so there was a lot of shuffling.
Transferred August 25, 2015
Kris managed to live in one place at Lewis prison for 6 weeks before being moved back to Tucson’s Manzanita unit on August 25, 2015.
Since November 28, 2015, Kris has been refused calls to his mother. Since December 1, 2015, he has been held in Tucson’s Manzanita Detention unit, similar to an isolation unit. On that day, his walker was from taken from him by prison authorities.
And now, reader, we’ve come full circle. Would you like to remind yourself where we are? Go to the top of this blog and start reading it again. That’s where we are. Nowhere. Disappeared. Denied his medications and the equipment he requires for physical exercise and mobility.
So why go through this listing of all of his transfers? It’s all just facts, so what. There is nothing special about it. Yes, some transfers occurred in order to provide better care for Kris, but many seem pointless or cruel for someone with physical handicaps, handicaps brought on by and within the prison system itself. The reason, from my perspective, to dwell on these is, in part, to recall that, at almost all times, Kris was attempting to write and challenge both his sentence and the condition of his treatment, care and medication. At all times, these transfers removed all materials he had managed to assemble while attempting to make these efforts and did not return them nor let him keep them, regardless of how harmless those pieces of paper were, regardless of how harmless those law books were that his mother bought for him, regardless of how his notes were written by him and he had a right to keep them. At no time was this permitted to occur, and the system of sabotage of Kris’s efforts was effected easily enough – by walking around his human rights, by transferring him repeatedly and consistently. By sabotage.
According to a general dictionary, sabotage is any willful underhanded interference with a cause, an intentional undermining of a cause. It’s usually found in the law of war, but perhaps we are in a war here. After all, synonym verbs include: disable, vandalize and cripple, all things Kris has experienced under the detention and at the very direction of Arizona prison authorities – repeatedly and repeatedly.
Kris was, as a result of these conditions, unable to be effective in reviewing and contributing to his own appeal, already taken and denied despite serious problems in the district court’s record. We are also talking about transcripts from that court disappeared, the denial of access to transcripts, and files disappearing. We are possibly talking about serious corruption here. Anyone interested?
In my next installment, I hope to discuss more fully the Arizona prison system’s prisoner population, release possibilities and update you on the new hell he will surely face as he prepares, hopefully, to go to court on his own behalf to discuss his treatment and care, as well as his sentence. In the meantime, I am requesting that more attorneys in prominent criminal law practice and immigration practice in the federal district of Arizona and/or 9th Circuit Court of Appeals consider assisting Kris in his efforts. These should include efforts to achieve early release under Arizona’s own statute, “Release to deportation at one-half of sentence imposed,” ARS sec. 41-1601.14, designed to release inmates who are foreign born into the custody of their native country. This should bring U.S. federal authorities and the state of Norway into a discussion – and a capacity for action on Kris’s behalf - due to the coordination needs for such a release to be effected.
Friday, January 22, 2016
John Kristoffer Larsgard – Blog 6
I decided recently to discover, if I could, the general life status of John Kristoffer Larsgard, the Norwegian who was imprisoned in the state of Arizona after having been caught in Winslow after a car accident with his mother. If you are not familiar with this story, you will find details of that online at various news articles in Norwegian and English, and also at my five previous blog posts entitled with his name. These are posted at my website as well as at my Google blog, “Edvenson Consulting: News and Views.” Folks call him Kristoffer or Kris. I last wrote about Kris’s situation in the early Spring of 2012. And finally, attention is once again turning to him and his current predicament. None too soon, since he is now disabled – by and due to being in Arizona state prisons – and should probably have already been released to custodial care – paid for by the taxpayers of Arizona.
John’s prison time in Arizona began on Sept. 24, 2011. He was later sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison which, under normal procedures, would include ‘time served.’ He has thus now been in Arizona’s prison system’s custody for over half of that sentence – a period that many prisoners expect might result in release for good behavior – especially when prisons are overcrowded and understaffed, which Arizona’s are (see the State Auditor General’s recent report to the Arizona Legislature).
I was talking to his mother, Liv Larsgard, in Oslo. “Well, why hasn’t he been released yet?” I ask. “Because he’s had disciplinary cases against him, I imagine,” she replies. “Like what?” I say. “They said he was in a yard in his wheelchair and he wasn’t supposed to be there then, so they made a case of it. He said he had not been there and they could check their videotapes to see, but they just said ‘No.’ They don’t care.” “You’re kidding,” I say, “Well, do they add time for something like that?” “I’m not sure,” Liv answers, “but these disciplinary cases add up and then they put him into confinement. Like someone left their jacket in his room while visiting, so he took it back to their room in his wheelchair and tossed it in there, and they said that was forbidden so he also got in trouble for that.” Liv continues, “They said he could not make phone calls after November 28th last year because of these disciplinary behaviors.” As a result, Liv cannot talk to her son and he cannot keep her informed of his situation. I think she’s done, but she’s only getting started. “And they started returning my mail. You see, I was using pre-printed labels for his address and my address, and now no mail can go into the prison with any attachment so that’s not allowed.”
“Liv, why have they stopped your letters to him?” “They haven’t just stopped my letters to him – they keep them for some weeks un-opened and then they send them back. They say they cannot contain labels.” I say, “You mean they can’t include the ‘Documents only” label that the Norwegian post office wants to put on the envelopes – because the U.S. would like them to?” “Yes,” she bemoans. They think of anything to keep us from having communications.”
I’m feeling more and more like I’m the one who is drowning. So I try to do some basic arithmetic. “Okay, Liv, if he’s been in prison since Sept 24, 2011, he’s now been in prison over 4 years.” Liv pauses but it’s hard to say what she has to say. “I think they’re trying to kill him.” This sounds preposterous, so I have to ask how. “Well, he has been transferred 11 or 12 times just in 2015. He keeps trying to keep copies of the court documents he wants to use to file papers to try to have the case re-examined, but every time they move him, they take away all the documents he has in his possession and they never give them back. So he has to start all over again with his documents and his writing.” “Liv,” I say, “this can’t be permissible.” “That’s not all,” she continues, “The folks in Corizon Health told some other prisoners at his prison that he was an informant against them, and they hoped this would incite them to hurt him. And this happened more than once – at least twice. But some other prisoners heard the people involved talking about it, and told Kris, so he was able to go to the guards at the prison and tell them – so he could be put into the detention unit.” “What’s that?” I ask. “That’s solitary, or nearly so” says Liv. “Why?” “For his own protection,” she replies. So he’s now at Manzanita – Detention Unit.”
Liv says she’ll send me some documents that well-wishers, both attorneys and non-attorneys, have helped Kris put together just recently. He is currently bringing some cases in the courts, representing himself. He has had the kind assistance of a couple of attorneys, helping with the legal references and contexts. His mother, Liv, also keeps documents and notes, and receives a bit of help from friends and concerned persons in the Oslo area.
I am going to take one of those documents here in this blog episode, and simply take what are listed as the “allegations” and turn them into a story. I mean, why not? Let’s assume this is true, why don’t we? Why would someone make this stuff up? How could they imagine this? And before I begin, let’s recall that Kris was a relatively normal guy - but with a specialized neck injury and major neck surgery, on ordinary prescription medications for neck pain, and walking and talking when a Winslow native busted his nose, the cops arrested him, threw him into Navajo County Jail, and someone in the jail then managed to scuffle him to the floor and step on his neck, where he had previously had specialized surgery on his vertebrae in Iran.
After over five years in Arizona state prisons, Kris is now having to use a wheelchair and walker due to partial and probably permanent paralysis of part of his body.
Kris is preparing to argue that continuing to imprison him is unconstitutional and, as well, is completely disproportionate to his crime, which was, in effect, the crime of having unknowingly become a threat to the safety of persons who experienced no serious injury as a result.
So I’m turning to the contents of his story, as found in “Defendant’s Pro Per Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, No. CR2011-0767/CR2011-0780, Division III, (Evidentiary Hearing Requested)(Oral Argument Requested).
As background, Kris attended medical school in Australia, but began to have severe neck and hand pain. He had treatment for that in Norway and specialized surgery in Iran, where a surgeon specializing in such delicate surgeries was stationed at the time. His mother accompanied him on that surgery trip, having therefore gotten a visa page with her photo in her Norwegian passport, in which she, in deference to their culture, wore a head scarf for the visa photo. (This page was photocopied and kept as part of the Navajo County case documents as evidence of Kris’s and his mother’s link to terrorists.) So Winslow, with its population’s average age of 35, finally had their own terrorist.
Kris had also attended North Park University in Chicago, one of my alma maters, graduating Summa Cum Laude. He was living in California and studying to take the U.S. MCAT medical school entrance exam. His student visa renewal papers were in the process of being handled and, after he was jailed in Arizona, it became impossible for him to send the one fingerprint that application still required in order to go forward to processing. He did not therefore ‘let his student visa expire’ as some have suggested: it expired because his liberty was removed from him before he could finish the process, which was being handled in a timely manner.
Blame the navigation system: Well, I certainly could do that – on more than one occasion, it has oddly told me to do what I thought surely could not be correct – and was not correct. Kris was following a new rental car navigation system to try to get to an auto shop address in Winslow where his and his mother’s luggage were being held for them to pick up so they could continue their trip to Chicago – when he ended up entering an area in which a special community celebration was occurring. When he backed up to turn around, he did not see persons put into danger. Of course, he would not wish to endanger anyone when the car hit the curb. It was at the point when the father of some children on the sidewalk got enraged and ran after Kris’s and his mother’s car that thing began to disintegrate.
But let me leave the events of that fateful day behind us for a minute and talk more about what has happened since Kris entered incarceration. I won’t even get that far: I’ll have to write more soon.
Since Kris was sentenced he has brought a federal case claiming the state’s deliberate indifference to his medical needs while he has been in custody. The District Court denied summary judgment, meaning that they did not permit the case to be dismissed out-of-hand. Specifically, Kris has suffered such serious injuries while in the custody of the Arizona state prison system that he had to undergo emergency neurological surgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center. This occurred after he was (1) left on the floor of his cell for nearly one month with life threatening injuries (he could not sit or stand up): (2) he had what they knew was a history of seizures, and (3) he was eventually taken to a hospital in Tucson where the surgery was performed.
Problems were apparent even at Navajo County Jail when Kris was unable to receive the prescription medicines he was used to having. Staff were told and nothing was done about it. Without these and with the addition of intentional inmate injuries to Kris, he was experiencing severe pain most of the time. Kris described this pain as so extreme that death would have been more humane.
The medication he has received has varied greatly, and the most effective medicines have often not been prescribed nor provided consistently - a primary concern being that some of the medicines which work best for his situation are classified as narcotics, medicines freely prescribed in Norway, but for some reason considered a ‘security concern’ in Arizona. While Kris could usually get Ibuprofen for his pain, he also received no physical therapy after his degrading condition persisted. He was able to live a relatively normal life out of prison, with mild pain and medication. He told the prison staff about what he needed, and they stated that it was a controlled substance and was generally unavailable no matter what the inmate’s medical history. They did continue another medication that was designed to prevent seizures and muscle spasms. Still, his pain persisted.
When he was first sent into the state prison system, he was sent to the antique, dirty and dangerous Alhambra “Reception Facility.” From there, he was sent to Lewis prison in May, 2012. Here he requested a visit with a pain specialist for pain treatment for cervical spinal pain but was given only one of the two medicines he needed to successfully live with the pain. As a result, he had a seizure in his cell and awoke in pain on his cell room floor.
He was then seen by a doctor at Lewis prison who informed him that “chronic severe pain” was not “a chronic condition recognized” by the Arizona Department of Corrections. That’s news to me, reader. One learns something new every day. They did, however, state that seizures could be treated. The doctor prescribed the anti-seizure drug while Kris, familiar with it, tried to discuss with him the fact that this drug had significant adverse side effects. The doctor refused to prescribe medicine for Kris’s severe and chronic pain and, instead, suggested he submit another application for a health review and ‘restart the process.’ Because Kris could not get the medication he was used to having for pain, he began to suffer incontrollable muscle spasms in his neck and upper back.
In June, 2012 Kris was transferred to Yuma prison, but his medications and medical files were not sent there also. As a result, Kris was without his pain medication and suffering extreme pain at Yuma. He pleaded with Yuma prison staff to receive medical attention, but was advised that since he had been transferred to a new facility, he would be ‘at the end of the line’ of inmates to be seen. He was also told to expect considerable delay since there was only one medical doctor for Yuma, which houses about 5,000 inmates at any one time.
Kris became desperate and sent numerous letters of appeal to correction facility health service administrators and others whose concerns included inmate health services, and despite getting some answers, none resulted in any immediate help. Eventually, Kris got medicine that reduced the pain to moderate to severe. Then, in July, 2012 he was told his medical provider would be switched to a privately owned and operated company. Kris’s health condition began deterioration when, in late July, one person said she would attempt to get him the pain medication he needed as well as the seizure medicine he had used previously. While he did get some medications, in August he was told that his pain issues were now resolved when, in fact, his pain was still occasionally severe and was resulting in progressive deterioration of his physical condition. As early as 2012, he was having difficulty writing as a result of the effect of this pain, which he called “akin to torture.”
While Kris was at Yuma and while his condition worsened, his mother managed to put together the medical history files that illustrated Kris’s medical condition and history and deliver them to the doctor at Yuma. This doctor then saw Kris in September, 2012 and decided that Kris was not in any significant pain and “had to learn to live with some pain.” The doctor stated that the previous doctor opinions and prior treatment of Kris had no meaning within the Arizona Department of Corrections and that they would not be requesting stronger pain medication for him. In another visit to this doctor, the doctor emphasized that prison was supposed to be punishment and not comfortable.
As a result, in December, 2012, Kris had another serious seizure and was left in a state of partial paralysis. Kris woke up on the floor of his cell and could not move the left side of his body. Despite this status, Kris was left on the floor of his cell for the next three weeks. He was laid on a mat and given an empty shampoo bottle to urinate into. He managed to use the toilet about once each day, which was one foot away and took him 30 minutes to maneuver himself onto. He was also refused medical care treatment at Yuma because he had filed papers complaining of the lapses in his medical care and treatment. Staff at Yuma began to call him a “faker” and a “phony,” suggesting he was having “psychiatric issues” and no tangible physical injuries. He was eventually transferred to Tucson prison for psychiatric evaluation.
Once at Tucson prison, Kris was taken to the emergency department of University Physicians Hospital in Tucson where the staff determined that he had sustained serious neck and spinal cord injuries, and he was ordered into immediate spinal immobilization. Kris’s blood pressure at this point was so low that staff initiated a trauma procedure and he was transferred to the University of Arizona Trauma Center for immediate surgery. He remained hospitalized until February of 2013.
When he was discharged from the hospital, he was taken to the state’s Tucson prison medical unit. He was required, by his health providers at the hospital, to wear a body brace and pads, and was supposed to receive magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) to monitor his progress. But that didn’t happen.
At about the same time, the state of Arizona terminated the contract they had with Wexford, the private contracted health care provider, and Wexford was replaced with another for-profit correctional medical and health service provider, Corizon. Which brings us to the folks who are more interested in planting rumors that he’s an informant when he is not – so that someone in his prison can kill him, an accident of course that could not be prevented – than they are in actually providing health services to prisoners.
What Kris is trying to do, instead, is argue his case for adequate medical care and treatment. He has filed more than 30 applications for health services to date, pleading for adequate medical attention. His pleas are joined by those of former Wexford staff whose professional opinions are ignored by the folks at Corizon. As a result, as he says himself, he sometimes wishes he would go to sleep and never wake up.
But Kris is also a fighter. Oh, you say? He’s not allowed to be a fighter. Well, when the fight is one for justice, it is hard not to be moved, in my opinion. Surely, as Kris wants to argue, the seriousness of his health issues were part of the factual evidence that was never given sufficient weight in his first trial. Had it been, do you think that the jury would have convicted him of attempting to endanger life and limb using a murderous tool? (The car that he was driving while trying to get away from people running after him, get his luggage and leave town?). As Kris can, I believe, reliably argue, (since I have read the Plaintiff state’s closing argument transcript), Kris’s pre-existing physical condition at the time of the incident as well as his medical history were clearly at issue already when the charges were filed, should have been the subject of discovery and should have resulted in facts produced at trial with even the least amount of professional diligence an attorney could muster: it must therefore have been intentionally ignored.
This has to have been the case since the visa page from Liv Larsgard’s Norwegian passport showing her wearing a scarf over her hair was not ignored – and the reason, as she explained, was that she was in Iran with her son for specialized spinal neck surgery, the cause of their earlier trip to Iran.
Would Kris’s neck difficulties have caused him to have an accident? No, his mother was driving when they had the accident that landed them in Winslow. But would it cause him to have difficulty making a three-point turn in a new rental car in a town on a street where he had never been? Of course it would. Would that ‘go toward intent’ (causing a reasonable doubt in Kris’s intent to intentionally harm others)? Of course it would. And would having your nose broken by someone running up alongside your car and punching you in the face through your open driver’s side window cause you to have difficulty deciding what was best to do next? And drive sporadically? All of which was NOT ignored but repeatedly and repeatedly drilled into the jury’s minds.
I’m done here. I’m back talking to Liv in Oslo. “So, what happened next?” Liv says, “He fell backward on December 3, 2012 – at Yuma prison - and broke his neck due to falling back. They left him in his cell to die. He was left for nearly a month. Now he is using a wheelchair and a walker.”
“And when did you see him last?” Liv replies, ”That was in 2013. It was all set up: the permissions were obtained and I had come all the way – from Norway. Everything was arranged beforehand – everything. Then, when I got there, they told me I could not get on the bus: that I could not see him, they had changed their mind. This was at Tucson prison.” So what happened? She continues, ”They said a CO3 had decided it.” (Corrections Officer 3) “So I decided to ask someone else – so I started to walk toward two guards with dogs. They kept telling me to stop, or they’d let the dogs loose, and I hollered back that I was not going to stop and I didn’t care what they did to me, because I was supposed to see my son and I had come from Norway and it was all arranged. Then, they got two ladies who were very nice and they re-considered and said I might see Kris. Then they checked me for metal and said I had to be more covered up than my V-neck shirt, so I went back to my car and put on more clothes, and then they let me in."
“Doesn’t anyone else see him or speak out?” “Well,” says Liv, “The Norwegian consulate – they want to be informed but they don’t want to help. They say, ‘He’s in prison? Then it’s up to the prison.’ But I think it is a violation of his human rights. They could do something, couldn’t they?”
I agree that they could. I have had International Human Rights law and I have sufficient knowledge of the facts to suggest that they could. As a matter of the practicality of international human rights law (i.e. why have it if it won’t work?), as well as simply an effort to bring it into effect, it is the obligation of general governmental institutions – at all levels and in all respects - to involve themselves – precisely because it cannot simply be the case that procedurally ordinary avenues could or would result in addressing these types of wrongs: the wrongdoers are often the very bureaucratic culprits, and are not necessarily in a position, individually or as a group, to change their ‘sick culture’ into one that can secure the very specific international human rights the nation itself pledged to uphold in its treaty signature.
But what about the rest of 2013? All of 2014? All of 2015? And now it is 2016. I think I’m missing some of the story and we’ve already been talking for an hour. Liv continues chatting, time out of context, “He was kept in a cellar for 3 weeks, in solitary, from a March into June.” I then learn that a pastor from the Norwegian Seaman’s Church in San Francisco went to see him during this time. He was chilled, apparently, in more ways than one. Liv says, “He’s not allowed to talk about it - by the Norwegian authorities. . . . because it’s torture: to keep one in pain in the dark. His eyes, you know . . . He was in chains – his hands, his feet.”
She then pauses, “But it was nice they let him see Kris.”