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Jared’s lawyers raced to settle with Reinhard following my deposition.  Because I had refused to cover for my family, they knew their chances of winning were over.  However, Reinhard was not so keen to drop the case.

Something we had come to see from the trial the community had held for Nicholas in Kenya, was that mercy means nothing, in terms of changing a person, without a background of justice.  Nicholas appreciated what we did, because he knew that, according to the laws of the land, he deserved much worse.  In the case of my family, the system had failed to impress upon them that they had done anything wrong.  All our efforts to communicate to them that we were willing to forgive them meant nothing because they did not accept that they had done anything wrong.  While we were preaching a concept of mercy which could empty jails, we also appreciated the concerns of people who saw the criminal justice system as weak and ineffectual already.

Because of this, Reinhard asked Gary if there was anything that could be done to just sidestep the insurance company, and make Jared face up personally to what he had done.  Even a simple verdict of 'guilty' would say more than what any of them was willing to hear at the moment, but a stiff penalty might make Jared think twice before he became violent again.  Gary said that Reinhard could pursue the case, but then he would have to pay Gary's legal expenses, and he would almost certainly get nothing from Jared, because Jared would just refuse to pay even after an award was made.  That's how easy it is to beat the system in America.

What Gary told us was that Jared’s insurance would have to pay Jared's legal costs regardless of how things finished up, but nothing more, unless Gary could convince the jury that the attack was just temporary insanity or negligence on Jared's part.  Here is where the biggest disagreement arose between Gary and Reinhard.  Gary wanted payment, whereas Reinhard wanted a guilty verdict and some measure of accountability on the part of Jared.  They could not have both.

While this was being thrashed out between Reinhard and the various lawyers, Dave arrived in LA.  He had booked tickets to be present for the trial, which had been scheduled to start the first week of September.  Since it was looking less and less likely that there would be a trial, Dave suggested that we could take advantage of his presence there in LA by arranging a personal meeting between himself, me and my parents as a step toward healing the family relationship.

We realized that Dave was the one person Sheila and Jared most wanted to see dead, so the risk was significant.  But Dave felt that if we did not move now, we might never get such an opportunity again.  If they (and we) could survive such a meeting, anything after that would be much easier.  It was worth the risk if we could get something started, before they became convinced that further violence would be officially sanctioned by the establishment. 

I emailed Sheila, suggesting we meet at a neutral location for dinner, limiting the meeting to just the four of us: Sheila, Jared, Dave, and me.  With John out of the picture, there was less chance of violence.  And, as back-ups, we would have Jesse out in the parking lot with a camera and a phone to call for help if anything went awry.  Our hope was that, if the meeting was successful, we could go for something a little more relaxed, maybe involving other relatives, later.

Sheila wrote back, saying she would only meet with us if she could bring along her lawyer, Scott Mizen, and the meeting would have to be held in Mizen’s office to negotiate Reinhard’s settlement.  There appeared to be no interest in resolving differences between us personally or informally.  

The meeting was off.  Neither Dave nor I had the authority to cancel the lawsuit against them.  It was Reinhard's case, and he would have to be the one to drop it… if he so wished.  I felt insulted by Sheila's disregard for the offer of peace which Dave and I had extended.  All she saw me as, was a pawn in her legal negotiations with Reinhard.  I regarded that as my best and final attempt at reconciliation.

In reality, Reinhard did end up dropping the suit against Jared and John a few weeks later.  A trial did not seem worth it if it was going to cost us everything we had, even though we knew that Gary would have done an excellent job with it.  All we had really wanted was an authoritative outside party to communicate to Jared and John that what they did was wrong – something the Long Beach Police Department had failed to do.  But if their insurance company was going to pay for everything anyway, they would not be likely to learn anything from it.  Either way (trial or settlement), it seemed doubtful that what we had hoped to communicate to my family would get through.  Dropping the case and being rebuffed on a friendly meeting which involved Dave as well as myself put an end to my hopes that I could ever have a safe relationship with my family again.

Click here to read part 21 of Joe's Story
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