Friday, July 27, 2012

Castaneda v. Department of Corrections (Cal. Ct. App. - July 26, 2012)

I'll end the week with a story.  A story based on this opinion from earlier today.  I'll enhance some of the dialogue a little bit.  It's a screenplay, after all.  But all the facts are true:

Act I, Scene I:  "The Troubles"

Prison Doctor:  "What's the trouble?"
Prison Inmate:  "Well, Doc, it's like this.  To be honest, my penis hurts.  Plus, there's something growing on it."
Doctor:  "Hmm.  Let's see.  Whoa!  That thing's the wrong color.  And I can't really pull back the foreskin.  You sure you're okay?
Inmate:  "That's why I came to see you, Doc.  Can you help me?"
Doctor:  "Well, I'm not really excited to see, much less touch, that thing.  Tell you what.  Why don't you try not to use it for a while -- you're in prison, after all -- and come back in three weeks.  We'll see if it's like a chameleon and changes color again."
Inmate:  "Seriously?"
Doctor:  "Yes.  Oh, yeah,  Maybe I'll eventually get you circumcised.  Never too late, you know.  Next patient, please."

Act I, Scene II:  "The Troubles (I'm Serious)"  Three weeks later:

Doctor:  "Ah, welcome back.  If it isn't Mr. Penis."
Inmate:  "I wish you'd give me a better nickname."
Doctor:  "Just having a little fun.  Let's take a look again and . . . . whoa!!  What the hell?  That thing smells!  Plus there's that gross discharge!  Yuk!"
Inmate:  "Yes.  I know.  I'm familiar with its problems.  It's attached, after all.  Help me, please."
Doctor:  "Okay.  But, to be honest, I'm a prison doctor.  I don't specialize in penises.  We call those special people urologists.  But I'm worried this might be cancer.  Of the penis."
Inmate:  "Oh my God!"
Doctor:  "Don't worry.  We can go ahead and order tests.  That way we can figure out what to do."
Inmate:  "God, yes.  Please.  This is one of my favorite body parts."
Doctor:  "I hear you.  Okay.  I just have to fill out this test request.  Let's see.  There are three boxes, and I've got to fill out one of 'em.  One says "Emergency."  One says "Urgent."  One says "Routine."  Hmmm.  Painful penis, discoloration, discharge, growth, potential cancer.  Got it!  I'll just check . . . 'Routine'.  Which means, under state policy, that we'll conduct the test in a couple of months or so.  No ore than three.  Cancer's not really that serious, after all.  Especially on . . . ."
Inmate:  "Ugh.  I assume a second opinion's out of the question."
Doctor:  "See these bars and guard towers?  That a good enough answer for you?  Next patient, please."

Act I, Scene III:  "Not My Problem"

The test request then gets routed to the Chief Medical Officer for the prison.  Who read the form and rules:  "Request for testing denied."  Why?  Because Prison Inmate's about to be transferred to a new prison.  It's their problem, now.  They can inspect the problem penis and deal with it.  Enjoy.

Act II:  "It Lives (Or At Least Moves)"

So now, several months later, Prison Inmate arrives in San Diego.  Albeit in prison.  Sunshine.  Nicer climate.  And slightly better medical care.  His penis gets the once-over from a nurse practitioner who says that, in her experience, "That ain't right."  Lesions.  Possible cancer.  Get it tested.

So the nurse orders him to go to a urology clinic.  In two months.

Okay.  Finally.  It's taken months, but this incredible growing penis problem is about to be solved.  At long last, an appointment with a prison urologist on March 29.

Three days before the appointment, however, the state transfers him to federal authorities -- ICE -- for deportation.  So they cancel his appointment.

Act III:  "Release (Not In A Good Way)"

I can't relay what happens in federal custody with ICE, but assume that the medical care there is stellar.  (*Sarcasm alert*)  Finally, around a year later, he's released from federal custody.  At which point he's finally -- finally -- free to choose a doctor and get his penis treated.

Nine days after being released, he gets diagnosed by Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.  Yep, it's cancer.  And it has spread.

They do the only thing they can do.  They cut off his penis.

Act IV:  "Bye, Bye, Birdy"

For naught.  He lives as a eunuch for a year, and then dies.  They say from cancer.  But I say from a broken heart as well.

Act V:  "The Lawsuit"

Days before he dies, Prison Inmate -- his name was Francisco Castaneda -- sues the Department of Corrections.  His wife also sues for loss of consortium.  He gets to trial.  The jury returns a verdict.  Awarding $1.5 million to Castaneda's estate and a quarter-million to his wife.

Act VI:  "The End"

The case gets to the Court of Appeal.  Judgments reversed.  Judgments entered for defendants.


Personally, I'm thinking Danny Trejo to play Castaneda.  Maybe Charlie Sheen plays the penis.

"We'd like to thank the Academy, and especially our incredible screenwriter, Professor Martin, for these Oscars.  Best Actor and Best Supporting Member.  Wow."

We can dream, can't we?

A dream with, at this point, just as much reality as the Castaneda's judgment.

Enjoy the weekend.