Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's Getting Crowded

Diesel in Maine in 2007:

Diesel in Maine in 2007

Diesel in Maine in 2008:

Diesel in Maine in 2008
Diesel in Maine in 2009:

Diesel in Maine in 2010:

Diesel in Maine in 2011:
Diesel in Maine in 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why Does This Keep Happening?

In a few days Casey Anthony will be released from prison, serving three years for lying to police, but literally getting away with murder – the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.
This is quite probably the biggest miscarriage of justice since the OJ (I think it’s worse). So the big question is, what is wrong with our legal system? Why does this keep happening?

The culprit I’m angriest about is the idiotic juries. In order to be a juror on a huge case like this, that got so much media attention before the trial started, you basically have to be an idiot. I can’t imagine anyone with a curious mind, capable of deductive reasoning, meeting the standards (the incredibly low standards) required to serve on a jury in a case of such significance. These people tend to be simple-minded, and in this case and the OJ case they fell for far-fetched implausible narratives fed to them by the prosecution.
These same idiot jurors I feel have taken the meaning of the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt” way too literally. Yes you can have doubts, in a situation of this magnitude, a young woman’s life is at stake, the decision-maker should always have doubts, it’s our minds’ way of making sure we make the correct decision. But are those doubts reasonable? What if they said aliens came down and abducted Caylee and dropped her in the woods 6 months later, then showed tiny footprints and crop circles in the area? Would that be a reasonable doubt? No of course not. But it seems to me these cases have become about keeping score, if the defense can get 2 points on the board, it doesn’t matter if the prosecution wins 98-2, they have to have a perfect shutout. The way I thought about it when I was on a jury was this: is there any reasonable doubt that the prosecution’s version of events is not true? Did the defense team’s evidence and testimony give you a substantial reason to think the events could have unfolded differently? If this jury had applied those standards I think they would have come back with a guilty verdict, or at least a hung jury. Remember, similar to the OJ trial, several of them said they were pretty sure she was involved somehow, but said the prosecution didn’t prove its case. Again, it’s a scorecard, not a right or wrong, fact or fiction, innocent or guilty.

The blessing and curse of DNA evidence. There is no doubt modern technology aids us in almost every aspect of human life. But in some cases it becomes a crutch. Facebook, twitter, bbm, this blog. I haven’t spoken to a human being in years. I rely on the technology. And such is the case with DNA evidence. I am sure DNA evidence has cleared many innocent people, and save many more from wrongful convictions, but in this case it got Casey Anthony off the hook. Basically, the new standard has become, if you can’t tie the accused to the murder scene with DNA, you can’t get a murder conviction. This is why many experts say the prosecution overreached in its charges, a legal stratagem I don’t feel equipped to discuss.
But I think that’s intellectually lazy on the part of these jurors (whom I doubt are all that smart to begin with). Casey (or the “real killer”) was obviously very careful to not leave any evidence, and in the most important aspect of the entire case, the body was hidden so well, it was not discovered for 6 months at which time the autopsy was of little help. Though it did initially say the cause of death was homicide, it was unable to come up with a definitive cause of death to the satisfaction of the jurors. During this intervening 6 months, any trace of a heart-shaped sticker (if there ever was one) wore off the duct tape, eliminating a potential smoking gun.
When I was on a jury (again I am basing a lot of my feelings about these idiots on my own experiences) the judge told us our job as a jury was to listen to conflicting accounts of the same events and to decide which person was telling the truth. It seems these jurors heard differing accounts, and punted. They chose not to believe either person, and just pointed at the lack of DNA evidence as a failure by the prosecution to score enough points.
For instance, Cindy Anthony says she was the one who Googled “chloroform” on the family’s home computer. The prosecution introduced evidence showing Cindy was at work when those searches were conducted. Instead of throwing out Cindy’s testimony has that of a desperate woman trying to save her daughter, they seemed to just ignore the obvious: Casey googled it, then used it to kill her daughter.
And then there is the smell of the car. Before there was even a case, there was the car. The mother, the brother and I think even a clerk at the impound yard, all said it smelled like a dead body. Even some cockamamie test the prosecution ran out there said the odor was consistent with that of a decomposing body. But because no hair fiber, or other DNA was ever found in the trunk, the jurors ignored this evidence too. This to me is one of the bigger pieces of evidence in the case. This convinces me there was a dead body in the car. How else could all these people (in their honest moments, before lying to protect Casey) say the trunk smelled like a dead body, scientific testing say there was a dead body and there have been no dead body? What the hell else was it? Did Casey hit a deer and put it in the trunk? Did she park it at the same valet Jerry used during the B.B.O. episode? Does that sound “reasonable” to you?
The other big mystery in this case was how did the body of Caylee end up tied up in the woods if she simply drowned in the family pool? The defense blamed George Anthony (World War II was his fault also according to Jose Baez) and the prosecution never really challenged it. And if she drowned and they were going to dispose of the body, why did they put duct tape on her mouth? Again these were complete lies thrown out there by the defense, unchallenged by the prosecution which obviously felt it didn’t need to disprove the outrageous lies of Casey’s lawyers, it only needed to bolster its own case.
There is no overall presentation score in a murder case. I have often complained about boxing and MMA scoring when the officials’ decision does not match up with what every spectator can plainly see with his or her own eyes. Similar to the legal system, in boxing the judges are asked to score each round separately, and add those up for a winner. Using the 10 point-must system not all 10-9 rounds are equal. So sometimes you can have a guy lose the majority of the rounds close, and dominate those he wins, but by the numbers, he comes up short.
That’s sort of what happened here, thanks to everything I mentioned above. The defense scored enough points, and the prosecution had enough holes in its case. But if you had to choose one story which of these would you believe (oversimplified for your reading pleasure):
A young woman who had an unplanned pregnancy (likely the result of a one-night stand with a now deceased man) at age 19, was desperate to move out of her parents’ home (likely a dysfunctional one) so she killed her two-year old daughter. She researched chloroform and neck-breaking on her computer then used what she learned to kill her daughter. She stashed the body in the trunk of her car. And when the smell got too great she dumped the body in the woods. She was very careful in plotting this crime – thus the lack of DNA evidence, but also the DA’s desire to get her for Murder 1, the premeditation of the crime – and left no smoking gun evidence of her crime. During the next month she moved in with at least two boyfriends, went out partying with friends, including the now infamous hot bodies contest. She even got a tattoo – Bella Vita – Italian for “beautiful life.” She also wrote in her journal of things being better this way.

A loving mother who lives with her parents is so distraught by a terrible accident – her daughter drowning in a pool – that she goes out and does all those above activities to hide her guilt. She does this at the behest of her father who had been molesting her (and possibly forcing her to have sex with her brother) for years. This same father was the one who left the backdoor open and the ladder by the pool and he was the one who suggested the whole cover-up plan because he felt guilty. And even though he denied all this you can’t believe him because he is a suicidal adulterer.
Which one do you believe? And do you believe it beyond a reasonable doubt? Could you send a woman to likely death based on your belief?
I could, these jurors couldn’t which to me means Pascal’s Wager is probably the biggest reason for a not guilty verdict.
The jurors did what came at little cost to them. Maybe they were 90% sure, 95% or even 99% percent sure Casey did it, or was involved somehow. But they figured if they let her go, she’d probably never do anything like this again, meaning an acquittal comes with very little cost. Maybe a little guilt for letting her get away with murder, maybe the fear that someday she would kill again and you set a murderer loose, but that’s unlikely. But looking at it the other way, that small chance that they sent an innocent woman to Death Row (and not the really awesome record label) would have probably kept them up at night. So they took the easy way out. They let Casey Anthony get away with murder.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

That Would Be a Record

A major cable news network screws up the announcement of Derek Jeter's 3000th hit. It came via home run which must have confused the idiots who work there, who are such humorless tightasses not one of them knew enough about baseball to know this was incorrect. Or maybe it was just your average Yankees fan.

Song of the Week

"I Can See Clearly Now" - Johnny Nash
One of the most positive uplifting songs ever.

"Here is the rainbow I've been praying for."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

OJ's Legacy

It has been more than 20 years since the release of the first Naked Gun movie and I would have to say, for the most part, the movie holds up.
With one minor exception -- OJ Simpson.
But I can't decide whether his presence actually makes the movies better and funnier on repeated viewings, for instance, him creeping around in a black knit cap

or does it make them worse because him being a murder now dominates discussion of the movies. And you are so angry about his acquittal you wish his nuts really would get bitten off by a Laplander.