When I am not a moderatepachy, I am a lawyer. The majority of my practice is as defense counsel in civil litigation. Sometimes, the job is rewarding, especially when you win in lawsuits initiated by lawyers who advertise like this (disclosure: I have never opposed them, but I hope to one day, and win). Other times, the job causes headaches, because my job is to to be a skeptic.
Recently, I went to the Iowa State Senate to talk about this proposed legislation. SF107 extends the Statute of Limitations for filing civil (and criminal) actions relating to sex abuse of a child. You can read an 80% accurate depiction of the Senate Subcommitte hearing here. Believe this moderatepachy, the testimony from the survivors was passionate. Petrovsky omitted that another survivor of abuse, John, gave compelling testimony.
What Petroski also missed is that the bill would allow suits within 25 years of the “discovery” of abuse by the alleged victim. In other words, the 60+ year old senior partner at my firm could “discover” tomorrow that he had been abused as a child, and he would have 25 years to file suit… imagine a lawsuit filed in 2039 for something that allegedly occurred during the LBJ administration. (No doubt Hillary Clinton's granddaughter and Ted Cruz's son will yell at one another about the lawsuit one day on Fox News' “Hannity & Son”).
Besides those, the reality is that most abusers do not have any money; but insurance policyholders do. The gimmick, then, is that one sues the abuser… but also wherever the abuser taught, worked, and preached, under a theory that supervisors are liable for whatever their subordinates do. Imagine the changes that occur in 4 years (the Statute of Limitations right now) in a business, school, or church. Records, witnesses, memories… gone. Just like plaintiffs, defendants have a right to a fair trial. How can one defend against an alleged wrong that occured 30, 50, or 70 years ago?
After the victims testified, it was clear that Senator Petersen (D, SD-18) urgently wanted to move the bill forward. The defense bar hopes that cooler heads might prevail in the House. Last year, similar legislation died in a Senate subcommittee. To oppose this bill is tricky; to be seen as “against” abuse victims is to be seen as tacitly “supporting” abusers.
What is interesting is that the lobbyist declarations have not been very active; certainly there are other things that keep our legislators busy, and in same cases, motivate our legislative leaders to
cave to Farm Bureau pull members of their own caucus off of committees to get things done.
I urge any other Bleeding Heartland readers, if you hear about legislation you might not like, figure out a way to find it, found out who supports it, and share your view with your legislators.
This moderatepachy may have further updates and hopes to give readers more insights in the legislative sausage being made. Moderatepachy would also like to salute the work of desmoinesdem, for creating an incredible local resource on Iowa politics. It smarts that the analysis and writing in this blog and another (D)'s usually has more context, statewide scope, and humour (say it with a British or French accent to justify my misspelling), than the flagship for my party.