Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Haboob and Verdicts (not related)

Those giant sand storms really aren't rare, but the haboob that covered the Phoenix, AZ, area Tuesday was something else.  I probably have seen pictures of them before, but none made a big enough impression on my memory to recall them.  That storm was memorable.

Several miles wide and several miles high, the sand simply took over the area leaving some destruction and dust behind.  Watching the pictures of the storm on the news and on YouTube video postings showed how dramatic the storm was.  In some places, the picture was totally blacked out and watching the cloud race across the area shutting down all visibility was mind boggling.  News reports said that visibility was two feet or less in some places.

We have had some disastrous storm here in Southern Maine.  We have had hurricanes, or remnants of them, from time to time over the years.  A few minor tornadoes have set down.  And who alive back in the late 1940s as was I will ever forget those fires that ravaged the area. 

It sure does seem like this year, with the tornadoes in the south and midwest and the huge forest fires in various parts of the country, and now the haboob in Arizona, we've had some of the worst overall weather in many years.  With each of those national reports comes the realization of just how lucky we are to have chosen this area in which to live.  Let's hope I haven't jinxed us.

Casey Anthony was found not guilty of killing her little daughter Caylee.  I'm not going into facts of the case here, only mentioning that in spite of all the negative rhetoric from the so-called experts, I'm among those that believe the jury probably got it right.  I know many of us "just know" she's guilty of killing that child.  It's a gut feeling, and the circumstantial evidence certainly points that way.

I wasn't at the trial.  I haven't heard all the gut wrenching evidence that was given to the jury.  I haven't heard all the presentations, both by the prosecution and the defense.  I haven't spent 100 percent of my time on this case with no outside contact for, what was it? six weeks.  I know only what the news media wants me to know and I've only seen the video clips of what the video people wanted me to see.

And that's the situation with most juries.  Like many of you, I have served on juries, even as foreman once.  I remember as the jury pool members began arriving at the check in place.  We didn't know what to expect, didn't know what type of a case we'd decide, or even our fellow pool members.  Mostly out of self defense, frivolity was evident in the room.  Our major concern seemed to be how long this was going to take.  After all, we had other, important things to do, like earn a living.

Then we learned of the cases and many of us expressed only to each other which we wanted nothing to do with.  Next up, the courtroom where we were questioned (voir dire) about a case and the people involved.  The anxiety came when the jurors were selected.  It was the third or fourth case before my number came up.  One by one we filed into the jury box. 

That's where the transformation began.

All of a sudden we no longer were joking around.  We no longer were thinking of ourselves.  The realization that the fate of a fellow human being was being put into our hands took over.  The seriousness of that service took over.  We listened carefully to the presentations and to the judge's instructions and then filed into the private jury room for deliberations.

All 12 of us remained serious.  We discussed the case and the evidence presented.  We listened to those members leaning one way.  We listened to those members leaning the other.  The demeanor, the discussions, the entire deliberation process remained serious.  Votes were taken.  Deliberations continued.  Finally, it was time for us to return to the courtroom.

Each of the juries in which I participated were the same, and I'd bet most all juries could make the same claims.  And I'd bet that the jury in Orlando that found Miss Anthony not guilty was just as committed.  The judge's instructions were crucial; and in the end, the jury listened carefully to the judge's instructions, the reading of the law, and then after discusssing the evidence probably made the only decision it, in good conscience, could make.

I won't be critical.  They heard it all, every minute, of the case.  I didn't; so even though I have my feelings about the mother's guilt or innocence, I believe it's just possible the jury was correct.


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