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Fears change as we age Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Feb 04 2012 12:00 PM

Throughout my life I have been stalked by fears. Some reasonable, others not so much.

As a child I did not willingly drift off to dreamland. Closing my eyes for the night was like  embracing an inevitable and  gruesome death. I knew there were things under my bed that wanted the house to be dark; that wanted my eyes shut so I could be dragged beneath the floorboards and ravaged and ripped to shreds.

It is a wonder that I survived.

As I grew older, fear of going blind and sprouting tiny hairs on my palms kept me from participating in certain activities. For a while anyway. (Though is it just a coincidence that decades later, when I am in my 40s, my eyesight is dimmer and the hair on my ears is at times unwieldy and  defiant?)

But now that I am older those proposterous ideas have given way to ones that don’t seem so ridiculous. Age, I suppose, opens your eyes to possibilities you never imagined when you were young.

I fear the legal system. Watching the pursuit of justice unfold is, at times, hair-raising. Other times it is as frightening as any night terror I could have had as a child.

Take for example, the Sweetwater saga. Current and former school district officials have been accused of corruption by the district attorney. Investigators raided their homes and the defendants eventually all pleaded not guilty. Their trials won’t start for a few months. But in the court of public opinion the accused may as well start fitting themselves for prison jumpsuits.

Ultimately their guilt or innocence will be determined by 12 of their peers. People who are supposed to be just like them in some way or another. The road to judgment day, however, is a harrowing one. It’s filled with assaults on their characters and reputations. And legal bills.

And that’s the scariest part to me. You can survive name calling and back stabbing. But it’s far more difficult to rebound from heavy, crushing debt. After all, I’ve heard more than one attorney say justice is expensive.

But what’s to fear? Keep your nose clean and you won’t ever find yourself standing before a judge, right? Anyone remember Michael Crowe, Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser, three teens accused of murdering Michael’s sister? In addition to the mental and emotional toll, imagine how costly that ordeal must have been?

There’s no doubt that the guilty should pay for their crimes. But it’s the costs incurred on the way to the verdict that leave me a little breathless.

The pursuit of justice is an expensive endeavor. That’s one hell of a scary thought to someone average like me.

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