Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On trial

I failed to mention that my other adventure on Monday was sitting on the jury panel for this trial. It was the third time I've been called for jury duty in the last four or five months, causing me to miss four German classes. No big deal and not much excitement, just a long slog through a series of fairly predictable questions.

Surprises? Maybe two. One was that even people who have sat on juries before have trouble distinguishing between civil and criminal cases. The other came after the prosecutor mentioned that the defendant was married to a member of the Nava family. When jurors were asked whether anything would keep them from judging the case fairly, the woman sitting next to me mentioned the notoriety of that name. The defendant, who was just a few feet away with his back to us, turned around and gave her a luck that struck me as one of pure menace. The prosecutor even complained to the judge about the defendant's "interaction" with the jurors.

I wasn't picked, and I still think I could have been an impartial juror, but I couldn't help but feel a bit safer for a moment knowing that this guy was in the custody of the state.

And while we are on the crime beat, I thought Greg Tuttle's series on the Beach case was splendid, but I was bugged by a quote from Assistant Attorney General Michael Wellenstein, who wrote that the parole board must "keep in mind that while it is indeed a travesty for an innocent man to spend his life in prison, it is a greater injustice for a guilty man to be set free when his victim and her family can never be set free from her brutal death."

Doesn't he have that exactly backward? And shouldn't he know better?

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