Ragged Edge Online Home

The Julian jeremiad

(Updates on Julian
here and here.)

A couple of readers have let us know that the Ted Pinnock saga is far from over. In my Dec. 7 blog entry, I reported that the North County Times, a San Diego suburban paper, had taken up the cudgel against San Diego attorney Ted Pinnock for threatening to file Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits against businesses in the small California town of Julian.

The Times seems to have found itself an easy -- and popular -- news topic, and has been continuing the coverage and editorializing. The themes are the typical ones:
* the attorney is out for money
* filing lawsuits is an evil act against small businesses
* it will cost too much

and on and on. The North County Times coverage of the issue is a classic of what I've come to realize is the suing-for-access genre. Crips are the bad guys; small business is the beleaguered victim, the attorney is out for money. In these sagas, there's always a story about other crips who think the ones suing are wrong; and the story about other wheelchair users who have patronized the establishment without complaining -- sometimes it mentions that they're lifted in; sometimes it doesn't. Larger causes are invoked: a lawsuit-happy nation run amok is a typical theme. I almost never see a story about the problems lack of access cause wheelchair users. I'm not sure, actually, that I've ever seen one -- at least not as part of this genre.


An even larger media complicity abuse is the continuing pretence that greedy lawyers are out of control in "mainstream" matters, especially medical malpractice and the predatory behavior of health care insurance providers and HMOs.

The idea that the practice of medicine, particularly gynecology is being destroyed by insurance premiums and avaricious trial lawyers is furthered by all the usual tricks, particularly creating the same kind of boogie-man image that was hoisted during the civil rights era: "outside agitators" stirring dissent among "our nigrahs".

Typical is a legend that a burglar sued his victim for being bitten by the family dog.

The greedy advocate is yet another sick charade foisted on us by media who actually buy into this shit.



Julian: YES WE CAN!

“Yes we can,” she lovingly said as my mom made me crawl up 18 flights of wooden steps to enter our home. As my father placed me in an institution at 7, he said “Get your education, yes you will.” Sitting in a classroom at age 7 surrounded by children with retardation, depressed and alone, my teacher said “Yes you can, Teddy,” as she taught me how to type.

At the age of 11 I had a vision of leaving the institution and making a difference in society. That day I wrote:


Don't love me so,
Don't love me because I am unable to walk.
I live my life as beautiful as yours.
In fact, I love the way -I live.
It is God's Giving Power,
And I thank the Lord
And I will thank the Lord for the future.
Maybe I can't walk, but I know in my mind
I will be somebody.
The things I have wanted are going to be there.
And I know one day
I will be great.
I will give.
I will be understanding, and most of all, Loving.
I am a handicapped with a lot of hope.
And I am living in a world that has no hope at all.
Only the people who are unable get hope
Because they know how it feels
To be locked up in a wheelchair.
They know how it hurts to have people
Looking at you and saying,
Look at that poor kid
Right in front of your face — like you cannot see or hear.
It makes you want to tell them off.
It doesn't matter since they can't understand
Your marble talk.
One day a wind will come and the Hand of God will
Touch the handicapped and all will be saved.
I cannot change other people, but I can change.
If we love our God, maybe He will see us.

Theodore Arthur Pinnock
February 18, 1974”

The young boy that wrote these words is now Attorney Pinnock; the man Julian calls many nasty names. We live in a great country where a boy labeled retarded can become enemy number one in Julian. Yes, We Can!
The status of the disabled in society is one of exclusion, devaluation, marginalization and attitudinal barriers, all of which often lead to a perception of the disabled "as less than human". Yes, We Can destroys these barriers!

Historically, our society has practiced a policy of exclusion by institutionalizing (and even sterilizing) people with disabilities. Yes, We Can destroys these barriers!

Attitudinal barriers such as societal discomfort with the less than perfect still remain a stumbling block to full integration into society. Yes, We Can destroys these barriers!

Yes We Can Overcome Adversity!

1. A person with a disability must have a healthy support system at home, work, and play to overcome adversity;
2. A person with a disability must have a good and legitimate purpose to overcome adversity;
3. A person with a disability must have the required drive, ambition, and motivation to overcome adversity;
4. A person with a disability must master a trade, job, or career which is transferable to overcome adversity;
5. A person with a disability must reduce the effects of negative people or stresses in the person’s life to overcome adversity;
6. A person with a disability must accept responsibility for his or her conduct unless external factors or people absolutely control the person’s conduct to overcome adversity;
7. A person with a disability must reduce the negative effects of a medical condition by will power and proper diet, and/or surgery and/or medication to overcome adversity. Also a person with a disability must master novel methods of performing tasks notwithstanding a medical condition. Unless a person with a disability is dead, in a coma, or has no or little cognitive function the person with a disability can overcome a medical condition;
8. A person with a disability must resolve the past by self-help, religion, counseling, healthy activities or any other positive resolution method to overcome adversity. A person with a disability must not blame past events for his or her current or future conduct;
9. A person with a disability must have food, shelter, clothing, and internal love to overcome adversity;
10. A person with a disability must not purposely engaged in any unlawful activity harmful to himself or herself or society to overcome adversity

Julian reminded me I’m still treated as I was at 11! My success in life clouded my youthful vision. Julian opened my memory to crawling up steps as my mom cheered, “Yes we can.”

Yes we will enforce ADA!
Yes we will fight the bias in the media!
Yes we will!

Come join us and we will prevail!

Seize the day!


Amen Theodore Pinnock!

Your poem, your life and your post say it all. Almost.

On #2 you stated: "A person with a disability must have a good and legitimate purpose to overcome adversity."

I'd rather say that being a human being is enough purpose in and of itself.

On #4 you stated: "A person with a disability must master a trade, job, or career which is transferable to overcome adversity;"

I'd like to add to that "or any talent the person who is disabled is capable of doing for the express purpose of adding enjoyment to the quality of their own life."

And on #7 you stated in part: "Unless a person with a disability is dead, in a coma, or has no or little cognitive function the person with a disability can overcome a medical condition;"

I'd like to state that "overcoming" or "overcome" is defined differently by all peoples. In my dictionary of my own making, "overcoming" is not limited to a "cure." But rather, the ability to manage the disability in such a way that it make's "life more meaningful" or "a state of 'quality of life' that is acceptable with contentment to the person who is disabled."

Thank you so very much for giving me a look inside the person name Theordore Pinnock. And from whence you came.

Without all of those things mentioned in the poem (which should be published by the way), I wouldn't have had so much reason, as I do now, to believe your endeavors for the disabled to be so genuine or moreover, determined is a more fitting description (may we all be so determined!). We will never get anywhere in this life without speaking up and fighting for our rights to be included in this life. To the contrary, we will remain excluded. We will remain the outcasts and pictured as presented in the media as "those trouble makers/complainers/money grubbing low lifes" or deemed as "those poor poor pitiful creatures."

Knowing how you feel and knowing how I feel about these real life changing issues, prayerfully many more will come aboard and join us in this struggle. To not simply 'wish' to 'one day' become counted as a human being and be included in everyday life but to speak up and fight to be sure of our inclusion as part of this life, offering our talents, as capable, to society.

"Yes we can" is a good motto to live by. Either that or resign ourselves to crawling up those steps.

No more 'crawling up steps' as we are cheered on, with feigned smiles, by our onlookers who loved us oh so much. That's not love, that's contempt, bias, ignorance, neglect and a blatant example of looking down upon us as 'less than human'.

Here's a cheer for your future successes amongst the many losing battles as well. Keep on with the determined attitude you now possess and God grant you, nay, rather us! many future successes.

One step forward, sometimes two steps back. Like a dance, we continue as long as the music sounds.

Keep at 'em!

Praise the Lord for yet another day in which to live and enjoy--moreso especially, when disabled.



For there record, I went Julian to see if I should bring my daughters there for the December Holiday season and to relax. I have never been to Julian before Nov 11, except to bring my daughter to camp years ago. I went to Julian and it was inaccessible. These are the simple facts. Further, I survived the Cedar fires too! The fire was around my home. Also, for the record a "shakedown" is illegal. No one has shown I have violated any law. If people do not like my tactics get involved and change the law. Better yet, I invite people to go to small businesses to help them to comply with ADA. Go to http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm and download all the small business ADA information. Read and learn it. Then learn to conduct an access survey. Then go to at least 3 small businesses per week and help them to comply. If each person did this then private citizens, not lawyers, would enforce ADA. The public should stop complaining about me and take action by helping small businesses comply!


Thank you Mr. Pinnock! Next up let us sue the most dastardly of all offenders of ADA. Your access and the access of all must be made possible to bathe in the beautiful nature of Julian and the surrounding environment! I am behind you…next up Mother Nature or God (if you so believe). Certainly, the trees must be spaced appropriately to enable you to turn around in your wheel chair! Certainly, the decayed leaves, broken branches and the boorish animals must be made to comply with our laws to allow access to all, not just a few! We all have the right, sir, to enjoy the community and environment that Julian has to offer however; your methods and long term tack of forcing business to comply with ADA voids the very nature of the act. Individuals forced to make exception to persons (of any nature) so they may access and be a member or part of – is in fact alienating themselves, vilifying their position and minimizing the seriousness behind the law that is meant to create fairness. Good job! You have succeeded in being a modern day Grinch!


I understand the issue of having businesses make the corrections to allow access for people with disabilities. My question is, what is the $2,500.00 for? Seems questionable to me. I support the access issue. You lost me when I read you want the extra money. Your another typical attorney crook! Using the law to line your pockets.


The facts of this case are undeniable. 1) By the letter of the law businesses in the Julian area are not fully compliant to ADA. 2) An individual who threatens to reveal substantially true information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a monetary demand is met is committing blackmail. As the information is substantially true, revealing the information is not criminal, the crime is demanding money to withhold it.

This means that both Julian area businesses and Mr. Pinnock are in violation of different laws. The difference is that Julian area businesses are willing to bring their establishments into compliance with the ADA while Mr. Pinnock continues to violate the law by blackmailing establishments.

If Mr. Pinnock would simply send letters informing the business that they need to improve their facilities or risk facing a federal lawsuit, I doubt there would have been an uproar. The problem is that per his own letters he states that the businesses must make the repairs and pay him money to avoid the courts. This sounds suspiciously like extortion to me.

Mr. Pinnock – Two wrongs do not make a right. If you are truly interested in promoting the ADA you should drop the request for money and simply sue the companies in Federal court. Instead, you take a law with good intentions and use it to pad your coffers.


Dear Mr. Pinnock, GOOD FOR YOU, and for the rest of us with disabilities, we are not money grubbers. We want our health taken care of, the monies everyone is talking about that we so get, is really just a submental to the income we have lost. Till we can go out and find a new job, since some of our old companies say no MODIFIED JOB is available for you. Its their way of saying you are a cribble and no longer an assist, in a legal kind of way. I say I have been to Julian, along with some family members,who disabled also, we did find it had to get up the high steps, walk ways. We do not have to use a wheelchair,but with canes. I am now looking for work, using a cane. And try being in the other persons shoes, I sure hope you good folks never have an accident, then you know where we stand. Try having your home taken from you,creditors,medications, or supplies denied to you. You will understand one day,God forbid.
We are not out to rip off the system, its ripping us off. But we put our heads up high,and we keep going. Even with people saying there goes another faker! Taking our TAXES! Well folks
I have paid my taxes. GOOD LUCK and God Bless the honest disabled persons. Julian should have done this years ago, our money is just at good.
At least he is giving you letters, he could of just filed, and then Surprise Julain, with a court date. A local resident in the valley. You know its even hard to find places to go fishing?Belinda


First of all, as I understand it, Mr. Pinnock is representing a group of people in this matter - he is not threatening to sue the Julian merchants himself - as an individual - he is simply the attorney for this group of people. This group that he represents is composed of both people with disabilities and also those without disabilities. They remain an anonymous group - which seems a bit deceptive to me. So all of his posturing about how he was "shocked" to realize how unaccessible Julian was on that Veterans Day weekend is lost on me - he is not even the person who is threatening litigation - he is the attorney for this faceless group.
How was it possible, Mr. Pinnock, to send out sixty-plus letters (certified mail) by November 14th, when your visit to Julian was somewhere between November 11-13th? You must have one heck of a paralegal to gather all of this information in this space of time. Furthermore, the letters required the merchants to contact Mr. Pinnock by November 17th (remember - these letters were sent from San Diego on or before November 14th.)
What is also interesting to me is the fact that Julian merchants have been receiving letters from Mr. Pinnock offering substantial deductions in monetary demands. The "$2,500" has now shrunken - in some cases to $300.
So when you speak about the bias in the media, let's face the facts and accept that you are using the media to further your own "cause" just as strongly as the Julian merchants who are opposing your tactics.
It is your tactics that they take issue with, Mr. Pinnock. Most appreciate the fact that you have shown them that they are not in compliance with the ADA, and they truly desire to rectify the situation. It is your extortion that has caused the problems - your demand for - I may be paraphrasing- "reasonable compensation" - that causes you to be "enemy number one in Julian."
I would think that a more effective way to see the change that you desire, Mr. Pinnock, would be to offer seminars in ADA Compliance. Charge $300-$500 per business to attend, and then you have your cash in your pocket without these ugly threats of lawsuits. Partner with an ADA consultant who will go to your attendees' businesses to ensure compliance. It would be a lot less work for you. I can guarantee you that the merchants in Julian would have been much more receptive to this approach. They were completely blindsided by your predatory action. Since you fancy yourself to be the advocate for the disabled, this would be a much more effective way to reach the few businesses that you have not already sued.


Dear Mr. Pinnock, All Who Support & Those Who Don't Understand Yet,

I am a Married Mother of Six, I use a wheelchair full time and... I live in Julian. In so many ways, Julian is the perfect community. During the Cedar fire, our property was burned like many others and while we were new in the community at that time, we saw first hand how people reached out to help eachother. It is a beautiful place to live.

But... As a Mother who uses a wheelchair, I can also say that it is a very inaccessible place to live. There are very few businesses that are accessible and I can honestly say that I have witnessed a strong resistance to modify anything in Julian. Many businesses have said that they had no idea this ADA law existed, and while I'm sure there may be 1 or 2 in this position, I just don't buy it! Time after time, my husband and I have let people know that they really should think about modifying their establishment to be in compliance with the ADA. They may not know what the law is called but I have never had a response that led me to believe that they didn't know they needed to be accessible to people in wheelchairs.

In one instance, my husband offered to help fundraise to put in a wheelchair lift in the side access of the Town Hall. While, I wasn't there at the time, because it was following an event up many stairs, my husband said they almost laughed as they said "Oh, we would never do that, it would destroy the historical integrity of the building." Matt, my hubby, thinks they forgot, or didn't know that his wife used a Wheelchair. Regardless, in the past 3 1/2 years, our family has spoken to as many of the business as we could, both informing them and asking them to consider making their establishment more accessible. We've even gone as far as saying "You know, if you don't make your business accessible to people with disabilities, anyone can turn around and sue you." Now, I never said this in a tone that led them to believe that I would be the threat, and truthfully, I feel embarrased that I haven't been more assertive.

While,I don't believe that these owners are callous or unfeeling, I think they really don't think their inaccessible building affects those around them. Too many of us, (me included) either stay home or say, "it's okay." Well I can say this instant, if my child were in the wheelchair instead of myself, I would stand/sit on any Town Hall steps to gain support for this kind of change. I've been in a chair for 20 years and have kind of just lost the fight in me. And I say that but what I really mean is that I don't want to cause a fuss or have this town look at our family as problem makers. I especially wouldn't want anything to cause trouble for my kids.

Before I had children, I was much more willing to speak up for myself and others. It's not that I'm afraid, I just know how a small town can get mad and I don't want that kind of anger displaced on my family. Don't get me wrong, at one time I held the title of Ms. Wheelchair California, a title given to me for knowledge of the ADA and ability to communicate the needs and rights of people with disabilities. I was active in many organizations and spoke to people throughout California.

But today...I am happy there is a Mr. Pinnock and others who will keep on talking. I will continue to pray for a change of heart from those who would rather fight it out instead of just letting us in. I look forward to the changes that have come so slowly and look forward to being able to fully participate in my community. I would also pray that people will choose to change and see why there is a need to threaten to sue. After all, the ADA was signed into law in 1990, Julian has had a long time to comply. God Bless You All.

Debbie & Family


The bigger danger, that no one seems to have addressed is this.... Through out history when goverment has turned over law enforcement to private enterprise, who then profit from that enforcement, the private enterprise will soon be out of control. If these violations were covered by an enforcement arm of the goverment, perhaps like OSHA, then the businesses would have a reasonable opportunity to fix any problems before law suits take place. As for painting this lawyer as some crusading do gooder, Hmmmm, then give the money to charity and I'll believe it too.
KC Truby

Post comment

(All entries are checked for inappropriate content before they appear on the site. Thanks for waiting.)

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2
Email this page to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):