Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Yup.  That's right folks.  The Bipolar Hot Mess got her hands on a contraband pic taken of Jodi while in jail.  A much different Jodi than the one you saw sitting in the courtroom on the tv, that's for sure.

Stay tuned for Jodi coverage.  While the retrial of the sentencing has been postponed, Hot Mess is still on Jodi watch!

The Bipolar Hot Mess also sends her condolences to Jodi about the death of her grandfather.  Yes, we all know the crime Jodi has been accused of, but that doesn't mean that she isn't a human being just like all of us and doesn't have feelings too.

Actually, if you think about it, as a mental health blogger, I talk about breaking stigma all the time and how those of us with mental illnesses are stigmatized, and I think the same holds true for prisoners.  We stigmatize them into being heartless, emotionless, cold, whatever other adjective you can think of, people because of a crime they have been accused of committing.  By stigmatizing Jodi, we are doing the exact same thing that we ask the public NOT to do of us.  A crime was committed, but just like the thousands and thousands of us with mental illness that are not violent and do not commit crimes and wish to be looked at and treated as equals, not all criminals are the completely emotionless, heartless, cold, callous, unconscionable people that we tend to stigmatize them as.

Think about it.  Can you honestly put Jodi into the same category as Jeffrey Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy? They were both murderers, serial killers at that, but does the fact that Travis was murdered mean that Jodi is the same as a serial killer?  That's like comparing me, an individual with bipolar disorder, to one of the individuals that took part in one of those school shootings.  Some were found to have mental illnesses, but that doesn't mean that all who have mental illnesses will engage in that behavior or feel the same way that others do.

It all comes back down to stigma.  We stigmatize so many people for so many things.  Instead of spreading stigmas, wouldn't it be nice if we would all just judge each person for who they are as an individual?  Yes, I may be a dreamer and a wishful thinker in thinking that something like that could ever happen.  But, I know that I do my part to try and quash as much stigma as possible.  I can't do it alone, no one can, but there are many of us that fight against various stigmas.  Each person who fights against stigmas makes our stigma fighting army stronger and can help reach more people and help reduce the many stigmas that are so rampant in our society.  Stigmas that cause things like bullying and suicide.  Criminals are stigmatized too.  What would all of you think if I said that I was a felon?  That I had a felony conviction on my record?  Would you look at me differently?  Would you treat me differently?  Would you view my opinions and thoughts about things in a different light?

Just something to think about.  This is a candid photo of Jodi.  Yes, she looks much different here than when she was in her button down sweaters and glasses sitting behind the defense table plastered across our tv screens.  Yes, she has a bit of a smile.  Does the fact that someone is incarcerated mean that they are never allowed to smile again?  That they are never allowed to have feelings?  That they are not allowed to live their life?  Yes, we can make sure that their lives are much more closely monitored by keeping them imprisoned because they have displayed actions that have proven that they need to be closely monitored, but that does not make them any less human than any of us.

That said, here's my insider pic:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hot Mess on a RAMPAGE!!!!!!! If I Can't, Why can they?!!

Well, I mentioned before that I have some real life experience being on the other side of the system, and being a defendant.  Well, I will not go into details, but I was convicted of a felony (related to a big conspiracy case that did not involve me, but my actions during the time of the arrest of all the individuals on the indictment).  During the course of the whole "shabang," I had to sign many, many forms and waivers.  There were two rights that U.S. citizens have that my attorney and my probation officer made clear to me would be taken away.  One was the right to bear arms and the other was my right to vote.  Now, if you don't already know, Sister Hot Mess is very much into politics and government, our constitutional rights, etc. So, when it was heard that I could not vote anymore, she was outraged, yet the last election, when she went to vote, my name was still on the eligible voter list. It seemed odd because I was still on probation and clearly had signed away my right to vote on several of the many forms I had to sign through the whole course of that debacle.

Why do I bring this up?  What is my rampage and outrage for?  Well, Hot Mess Mom was browsing through the Chicago Tribune the other day and found the headline "Convicted felon fights to stay on county ballot."  We had just been discussing my right to vote earlier that day so Hot Mess Mom was totally confused as to why this convicted felon (who is still on parole for a prison term stemming from his role in rigging city hiring to benefit political foot soldiers under our former Mayor, Richard Daley) was able to not just vote, but run for a political office, when I had clearly been told that I did not have the right to vote any longer. Hot Mess Mom was quite confused, AND SO WAS I!!!!!!  Then, when Sister Hot Mess informed us that my name was still on the eligible voter list, I began to think.  If my name was still on the list, did that mean that other convicted felons were still listed?  And if they were still listed, were they violating the terms of our sentence by casting votes?  Does that mean that now we have to draw into question the amount of votes that were cast by felons and how much weight did their votes have in the election of those that currently hold public office?!!!!

I began searching through all of my paperwork to try and find copies of the forms that I had signed that had stated that I could no longer vote, and since this Hot Mess's room and filing system is in such disarray at the current moment, I'm still trying to find my documents.  So, maybe I have been mistaken all this time?  Or have we been allowing felons to commit yet another crime and then using their votes to help get certain officials into office.  Which then has me wondering, If this is true, then no wonder we have so much corruption.  A bold statement, I know, but today, my quest is to determine if I had given up my right to vote while just on probation or if it was for the rest of my life.  Some documents I I have already found state that the right to own or possess a firearm is taken away for MY LIFETIME.  I assume, and have been assuming, that it applied to my right to vote as well.

So, off I go on my search.  I left a link to an article in the Chicago Tribune about this debacle.  It says that state law allows convicted felons the right to serve on the County Board, however, based on everything I THOUGHT I had learned as a paralegal and in law school, if there is a conflict with a Federal law and a State law, the Federal law presides.  So, that to me would mean this individual would not have the right to run.

But, off I go to investigate and do some more research...... ah the joys of living in Chicago, land of corruption! :)  Never a dull moment though! lol

~Bipolar Hot Mess~


Friday, January 10, 2014

Hot Mess's Beginners Guide to the Players and The Field of our Legal System... Part 1

Before I start examining cases and posting things, I figured that a lot of people may not be too familiar with all the legal terms and the roles of all of the players in the court system game; especially since there are some definite differences between the Federal, State, and Local court systems.  I will first start out with some basic terms that are the same across the board.  

Lets use this little storyline as an example to make things a little bit clearer.  (When you have names and situations, its a lot easier to identify roles and explain what is what, than if I just gave you a whole list of definitions.  The following fact pattern is 100% fictional and only to be used for my explanation! lol.  Just had to use that disclaimer!) HERE WE GO!!!!!

Hot Mess lives with her roommate Glitter.  One day, they invite their friend Sparkle over to play cards and drink some wine.  Things get heated over one of the card games and in a rage, Sparkle pulls out a gun and shoots both Hot Mess and Glitter.  They both died at the scene.  Sparkle drops the gun in a panic, leaving it at the scene, and speeds home to figure out what she should do. Should she call the police and turn herself in, should she pretend it didn't happen and wait to see how it plays out, or does she try to cover her tracks and make up an alibi and try to draw the attention away from her. Since Hot Mess and Glitter lived in an apartment building, a neighbor had heard the gunshots, but in the neighborhood they lived in, there was always gunshots being heard so the neighbor didn't think it was significant, however, Hot Mess and Glitter were very social with their neighbors, so the next morning that same neighbor knocked on their door.  When she did not get an answer at the door and neither had picked up the phone or their cell phones, the neighbor checked outside and saw both cars were still in the same spot they were last night.  Somewhat worried (as this was not typical of Hot Mess and Glitter), she went back to their apartment and found that their front door was not locked.  She walked in, calling out their names as she did.  As soon as she had opened the door all the way and stepped inside, she saw both Hot Mess and Glitter lying on the floor in pools of blood.  Immediately, she called the police and they arrived at the scene within a few minutes.  The neighbor suddenly felt extremely guilty because she had heard the gunshots last night, but had not even given them a second thought because she thought they came from outside.  If she had gone to their apartment last night, she may have been able to save them.  The police assure her that she had done the right thing and that even if she had called them sooner, it would not have mattered as they died right at the scene.  The police look around the apartment and find 3 wine glasses on the table and the gun on the floor.  They collected the gun and all 3 glasses and put them in evidence bags to be tested for fingerprints and DNA. After looking at the girls cell phone logs and bringing in some neighbors, family, and other friends in for questioning, they brought in Sparkle.  Sparkle's fingerprints were matched to the gun and her DNA was matched to the 3rd wine glass.  Sparkle was arrested and charged with both murders.  So, now that Sparkle is charged, what happens next???????
Using this fact pattern, we can identify the roles of several people and then discuss what will happen now that Sparkle is charged and will be going to court.

First, since this is a criminal case, we are dealing with the Criminal Court System.  The Civil Court System is completely separate and has separate rules and procedures.  The major difference between the two courts is that the Criminal Court seeks punishment via a jail or prison sentence, probation, or through a fine for breaking a law.  The Civil Court system seeks punishment via money or an order forcing the other party to do or not do what the subject of the case. The disputes in Civil Court are based on rights and duties that people and companies owe to each other (picture the cases you see on Judge Judy and People's Court and such). This case is DEFINITELY a case for the Criminal Court because murder is breaking the law.

I will do another post that will cover the Civil Court System when I begin , so this post will focus on the specifics for Criminal Law.

Since this was a crime, it is the government who will bring the charges against Sparkle because she violated a law that was put in place by the government.  So, the government is called the prosecutor and Sparkle, the one the charges are brought against, is called the Defendant.  When you watch a lot of the live trial coverage or even in books or newspaper articles, they often just use "Prosecutor" and "Defendant."  Before I studied the law, when I would see just "Prosecutor" or "Defendant" I had no clue which was which unless they used the actual parties names.  Cases that are brought in the trial court are also named in the format "Prosecutor" v. "Defendant."  Lets say that Hot Mess, Glitter, and Sparkle all lived in Illinois.  This case name would be "State of Illinois" v. "Sparkle".  If it were a federal case, it would say "United States" v. "Sparkle".  The prosecutor is always listed first and the Defendant listed second.

Prosecutor = person who brings the charges against someone (i.e. United States, State of Illinois, etc)
Defendant = person who is CHARGED (may not be guilty, that comes later) with the crime committed.

After the police give the case over to the Prosecutor, the prosecutor actually gets to decide whether or not they will actually bring charges against the Defendant.  They base it on things like how much evidence is there, is it an open and shut case, would the case actually hold up in front of the judge and/or jury or would it be wasting resources with an already over-clogged court system and case load? The prosecutor may decide to actually try to do a plea-bargain with the Defendant (Sparkle) that would offer something like less jail time in exchange for a guilty plea and then Sparkle would not have to go to court for a whole trial.  If Sparkle does not want to accept the plea deal offered by the Prosecutor, then the case moves on.

Right after Sparkle is arrested, an arraignment hearing is set where Sparkle can either plead guilty or not guilty to the crime she is charged with, and if the judge will grant bail, it is at this hearing that the amount is set.  At the arraignment, Sparkle and the Judge are told what crimes she is being charged with and evidence of these crimes that the Prosecutor has against her.  By pleading not guilty at that time, Sparkle has the opportunity to see if more evidence can be found or if her attorney can advise her of any type of defenses she can use which may reduce her sentence or even help to find her not guilty of the crime. The judge will set the date for the preliminary hearing of this case as well.

At the Preliminary Hearing, Sparkle will have had time to meet with her attorneys and determine what evidence the Prosecutor has and what evidence Sparkle and her attorneys have a defense for.  The Preliminary Hearing is held so that the Judge is given the opportunity to hear the evidence the Prosecution has and any arguments Sparkle may have against that evidence, and determine if there is enough evidence to provide probable cause that Sparkle MAY BE guilty of the crimes she is charged with.  If she is charged with more than one, the Judge may eliminate (or dismiss) some of the charges at that time if the Judge does not think that there is enough evidence to provide probable cause of Sparkle possibly being guilty of those charges.  If the Judge finds that there IS NOT enough evidence on any of the charges, then the case is dismissed and Sparkle goes free.

Lets say that in this case, the Judge does find probably cause that Sparkle committed 2 counts of murder (One count for the murder of Hot Mess and the second count for the murder of Glitter), then the case moves on to the next phase.

What about Hot Mess and Glitter's families?  The Prosecutor will usually work with them and do they best they can do to find the proper punishment for the murder of their daughters, but they are not considered to be the ones charging Sparkle.  The Prosecutor makes the charges ON BEHALF of the family, and the government in the criminal case.

What about the neighbor?  The neighbor may become a witness in the case, but that would be the only involvement the neighbor would have in the case.

The police officers that responded to the call and arrived at the scene?  They too will become potential witnesses in the case and can be called to the stand during the trial.  Otherwise, once they conclude their investigation and hand the evidence (the gun, fingerprint matches, the wine glasses, DNA results, etc) over to the Prosecutor to initiate formal charges, they no longer have involvement in the case.

The next post will discuss what happens from here!  Any questions?  Please feel free to ask!  Either comment below or email me at bipolarhotmess@gmail.com

~Bipolar Hot Mess~

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What's Up the Hot Mess's Sleeve For This Blog?

FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS... I want to say that I will not stop blogging on my website www.bipolarhotmess.com about bipolar disorder, other mental health issues, and the other random antidotes of the goings on in the world of the Bipolar Hot Mess!!  So no worries, your doses of glitter and other writings will continue on!

Phew. That said, THIS blog is where I will be taking my research skills learned in college, the course of my career as a litigation paralegal who worked on a variety of cases (large and small, high profile, low profile) and my love, genuine interest, and passion that lies in the criminal justice system and combine it with my love of writing, to discuss and explore the many issues that lie within each of the chosen cases. Of course, I will be addressing cases that deal with issues of mental health; whether the mental health affects the perpetrator or the victim, and I plan to show that those with mental illness are not always the perpetrators, but are also victims, but the cases I discuss will not be limited to violent crimes either. We all know that white collar crime can affect our lives just as much as violent crimes; just take a look at Wall Street and all the ponzi and hedge fund schemes. Those did not just affect the rich and famous you know.  Your everyday average Joe's and Jane's also put money into those investments (maybe not exactly the grand amounts that others did, but for them, it may have been a life savings) and were affected by them drastically.

Watching the live courtroom coverage of the high profile cases, my personal experience in day to day litigation procedures, and even my experience being on the other side of the table as a defendant has given me the ability to look at cases from both sides. While I did not have a jail or prison sentence, my then husband (now ex) did, so I experienced what it was like in the world of "Prison Wives." I experienced the every day life of a prisoner (which I believe was somewhat sugar coated by my ex-husband so that I would not be so worried) in the federal court system, which also affords me the opportunity to put myself in the defendant's shoes to analyze the full picture.

My addiction to the live coverage of cases began when the Casey Anthony case was televised a few years back. I not only watched every day of the trial (or as much of it as I could), but I found all the public court documents that were available online (pleadings, deposition transcripts, evidence, etc.) and read them all myself.  I wanted to see the exact sources the attorneys were using to determine what pieces of evidence were being used in or out of context so they could sell their version of the case to the jury. The Amanda Knox trial (the college girl from Washington studying abroad in Italy and charged with the murder or her roommate) had also captured a great deal of my attention because at the time, my ex-husband's niece was studying abroad.

Those two cases slowed down and I ended up going on FMLA leave from work due to my bipolar disorder. It eventually turned into long term disability and since I was home alot, I turned on the tv in search of some live trial coverage and sure enough, HLN and TruTV had just started covering a trial! In this case, a woman my age was accused of murdering her boyfriend in Arizona, it was Jodi Arias.  I watched that trial day in and day out. My tv (nor the tv in my boyfriends house) never left those channels while I soaked in every bit I possibly could from the daily courtroom activities, to Nancy Grace's opinions, to Jane Velez Mitchell's coverage, and lets not forget Dr. Drew! I was in heaven. Lucky for me, as soon as that case ended the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case picked up. SIDENOTE: While watching the Jodi Arias case, I was living at home and my mom would pop in and watch a few minutes her and there until soon, even SHE had all the tv's in the house tuned into the case. She got my dad and my sister hooked in as well. As if that wasn't enough, one of my awesome friends (and guest admin on my FB page, Dori), actually lives in Mesa, Arizona and all this was taking place practically on her front lawn!!! With spending endless hours of conversation and analysis on the case, we eventually declared ourselves "arm chair reporters." Of course we followed suit with George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin. :)

While completely immersed in Jodi and George, I decided I NEEDED to start writing out my opinions on the cases. I mean, I was so invested in these cases that I began to see that even though all the talk and discussion by Nancy Grace, Jane Velez Mitchell, and Dr. Drew and their analysts and experts was ok, but I had so much more to comment on and had many different ideas and theories and I HAD to express them, I couldn't just sit on them!. I didn't really have much "get up and go" at that time (thanks to med changes and the like), but then, I went back to watching some of the shows I used to watch all the time on the tv station, Investigation Discovery (ID). A pattern seemed to surface that I hadn't really noticed before and again, I HAD to share it! Many of the victims in the show had bipolar disorder, or some other mental illness. We can all attest to the fact that the media has made an overwhelming case to the public that those with a mental illness are dangerous, which can result in the blanket assumption to fear all who have a mental illness. The episodes I had been watching however, were very clearly stating that it was the VICTIM who had a mental illness. The first one or two episodes I saw that showed that, I kind of just brushed off as flukes, but they continued on with several more.

Now, being a mental health blogger and advocate, I saw this and immediately wanted to plaster all over the place "SEE! WE AREN'T ALL DANGEROUS!!! LOOK! EVEN THE MEDIA IS TELLING US THAT!!!" And posting a few posts on the Musings of a Bipolar Hot Mess blog about it would probably get the message across,  but definitely not on the larger scale I wanted it to and thought it needed. The more I thought about it, the stronger I felt that in order to grab the attention and deliver the message it deserved, I would have to do an entire blog focusing on crime. One that would allow me to write and research and immerse myself in all the details of the cases that I love doing, and I can still help reduce stigma in yet another way, on another platform, and from another angle.

SOOOOO.... VOILA!!!!! The Bipolar Hot Mess Turns Crime Investigator is born!

Well, now that we are born, where do I start? Lol! Well, I had already been gathering notes from books, and magazine clippings from my Vanity Fair magazine about cases that I wanted to learn more about, and then there were the cases from the shows on Investigation Discovery, and of course, the national news and headlines gave me some topics as well. 

Are you curious as to who you might find showing up here? Well, I'll give you a sneak peek of some of the cases I would like to cover. Some are violent crimes, some are scandals, some are profiles on people doing their job and seeking justice, some may be abusing their power, and some are related to mental illness, while some aren't. There are cases I just found interesting and wanted to discuss them. If the crimes were committed in the Chicagoland area, or somewhere in Illinois, those caught my eye immediately.  I can't guarantee I will address all of these because not only will I be actively searching for new ones all the time, but I will take into consideration any suggestions from you guys and some of these after doing a bit of research, I may not find interesting anymore. For now, here are a few that have been in my archives for quite some time and now its just a matter of where to start:

  1. Amanda Knox
  2. Jodi Arias
  3. Casey Anthony updates
  4. The Man In the Rockefeller Suit (Christian Gerhartsreiter posing as "Clark Rockefeller")
  5. Marc Drier (Wall Street Hedge Fund theif)
  6. Judge Jed Rakoff - profile on how he WANTED to punish the Wall Street offenders.
  7. Kenny Waters (The movie Conviction is based on his story of being wrongly convicted and then proven innocent)
  8. Nick Roses ( A Hollywood Agent in his 20's working as an agent for "young performers" but accused of scamming his clients)
  9. Manti Te'O (The Notre Dame football player that was called out on a hoax when he claimed he had a girlfriend who was a cancer victim. This is not so much a crime, but who does this kind of thing??!!!!!)
  10. Bill Ackman (another hedge fund scammer)
  11. Dr. Arnold Klein (Michael Jackson's dermatologist who was sued, etc.)
  12. Oscar Pistorius (The South African Olympian with the blades for legs) accused of murdering his girlfriend
  13. I have a list of names taken from the various ID shows that I will be doing some background investigation on which are victims who had a mental illness.

I am ABSOLUTELY open to any suggestions, or input, on other cases you would like to see me discuss. I also encourage you to comment and discuss these cases along with me and others that may comment. I may even create a private Facebook Group for those who want to discuss among each other the cases etc. if there is a strong interest there. 

To contact me with suggestions and comments, you can reach me via email at bipolarhotmess@gmail.com

AHHHHHH!!!!  I can't wait! :)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

And so it begins.......

Launching a new addition to the Bipolar Hot Mess Empire!  I figure, why not take my experiences of working in the legal field as a paralegal for about 8 years, a year of law school, 2 bachelors degrees (1 in Criminal Justice, 1 in Paralegal Studies), combined with my experiences being charged with a crime and going through the legal system on the other side, and being a prison wife (so having to deal with those issues and watching first hand what my husband was going through), I think I have a pretty good perspective on all sides and can look at the cases very objectively from all points of view. Lets see if I can help erase the bad rep that goes along with those with mental illnesses and being thought of as dangerous etc. Not all criminals have a mental illness and not all of those with a mental illness commit crimes! I'm going to prove that! 

So, now the question is........ which case to I start with???????????????????