Sunday, May 22, 2005

Concert news

Wrens at the Triple Rock on July 16. Should be good.

New apartment

My lady friend and I are getting a place together. After putting down a deposit 2 months ago, we finally signed a lease Thursday and were told we could move in right away, which is what we had asked for. While we weren't going to begin moving in until Saturday, we decide to take a look at the place once more. Turns out there was a mix up, and there are still people living in our apartment up to June 1. This is very bad, what with both of us working and me having to be out of town part of the next two weekends. In brief, after dealing with some embarassed leasing office people, they end up giving us a better apartment (extra bathroom, better view) for the same price, and most of my non-furniture possessions are already there.

If y'all come and visit, we can offer you your own bedroom and bathroom. Gernandy: I have to go to a wedding the weekend of June 25, but let me know what you're thinking.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Lion Battles Midgits

Can we expect a retraction by the BBC for this ?

Monday, May 16, 2005

A Surprising Review

Considering how terrible the last (first?) two Star Wars movies were I was surprised to see that A. O. Scott's review in the New York Times didn't pan the movie. Even more surprising was that he said "This is by far the best film in the more recent trilogy, and also the best of the four episodes Mr. Lucas has directed. That's right (and my inner 11-year-old shudders as I type this): it's better than "Star Wars.""

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A Plea for Cross-Cultural Communication

When is a door, not a door?

Go to the first footnote.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Jury duty

I served on a jury in a Murder I trial this week. The principals were all Vietnamese and most of the testimony was translated into English. We found the defendant not guilty.

Eyewitnesses saw the defendant stab or stab at the victim on the front porch of an apartment building. One saw him chase the victim through an alleyway and into a nearby backyard and saw them wrestling in the back. The most reliable witness, the victim’s teenage daughter, saw a cohort of the defendant run away from the backyard as her dad fell. The victim had some superficial cuts as well as two deep, complex punctures in the chest, which killed him. These undoubtedly took place in the backyard. The defense story was that both men were asleep the whole time.

Police were on the scene quickly and upon arriving in the defendant’s home, found him and the cohort. No blood or anything found on them or discovered in the home. The murder weapon, a knife, was found in the backyard. No testimony or evidence about fingerprints was admitted.

In the end, I thought the guy definitely stabbed the victim, but couldn’t ascertain beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant and not the cohort delivered the punctures that killed him. The only options we had were Murder I or Murder II. There were no other charges, such as attempted murder or assault w/ deadly weapon, etc. I was working under the assumption that the cohort was being prosecuted separately. He was not a witness in this case.

I felt decent about our verdict. Frustrated that this bad guy is being found not guilty, but unable to do anything about it.

As we were leaving, the judge came back and told us that the defendant and cohort are serious gangsters and had been suspects in another crime with striking similarities: knife stabbing to the chest. They had not been found guilty for that crime either. The judge said that one of the witnesses who testified against the defendant would likely be the next victim. The defendant in this case was willing to plead guilty for 15 years, the prosecution wouldn’t go below 30. The judge said he understood why we found him not guilty, that the evidence was not overwhelming, but he was clearly disappointed. He said there would soon be an article in the paper that would likely describe the defendant as an assassin. The judge also said that the cohort had been a party to this lawsuit and charged w/ brandishing a deadly weapon, but was dismissed; the circuit attorney’s plan was to prosecute the cohort for murder if the defendant was convicted in this case. I don’t know what the plan is now.

Needless to say, I felt awful after hearing this. I don’t think that we were wrong, but I do think we could have legitimately found the guy guilty and so I just feel sick. The take away message for criminals: kill in pairs.

I’m mad at the police. 15 officers were at the scene, not including the CSI types, and yet no bloody clothes were collected. This was a bloody killing and those clothes didn’t disappear within the 6-8 minutes before the police arrived in the defendant’s home. For years Rich, the attorney I work for, played on a softball team w/ officers and he says that the quality of their work depends on the color of the victim.

I’m mad at the prosecuting attorney’s office. Their witnesses were in no way prepared to testify and contradicted themselves during the state’s own questioning, before the defense attorney even got up. The judge said that all of these people speak English just fine. I can understand the defense wanting their witnesses to feign a language barrier, but why wouldn’t the state have its witnesses testify in English if they’re able?

I’m mad at the system. I guess there’s not a better alternative than the presumption of innocence and the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard. Nonetheless, justice was not done and I feel awful for the victim’s family.

This sucks.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Just Because It's There