Friday, May 25, 2012

Mistrial? More Like Missed-Trial

With over-whelming evidence, 11 out of 12 jurors coming to a quick verdict, one juror completely unaware of key elements in the testimony and evidence, I have to say that juror missed the trial.  I was on jury duty for 3 days.  It was an assault case where one guy, who had been drinking, became obnoxious at an acquaintance's apartment.  The apartment resident chased the guy out of the apartment, jumped on him and the drunk guy comes away with a cut face and stab wound resulting in a collapsed lung.  The main charge was first degree assault.  All that is needed for a guilty verdict is 3 elements.  (1) The defendant acted intentionally, (2) the defendant used a deadly weapon and (3) the defendant caused serious, life-threatening wounds.  Slam dunk I say.  The defendant, in a recorded interrogation, admitted to chasing the victim down the stairs and out of the apartment so there is the intentional part.  (The defendant said he blacked out while on the victim and didn't remember stabbing him.  He then ran away until he turned himself in 3 weeks later.)  A trauma doctor who treated the victim said the punctured and collapsed lung was not only life-threatening, but also caused by a knife. So that takes care of the other elements.  We heard testimony from a couple of witnesses and saw another videotaped interview with another witness. Order me up some lunch Bailiff and let's get out of here.  Hold everything - one juror decides it's not that clear.  She missed several key elements during the trial so we had to watch the interrogation videos over and over until it sunk in.  We had to look at the bloody clothes and she wanted us to ask the judge for a copy of the transcript of the trial.  Um, no.  Finally we got her cleared up on those issues but then she decided she couldn't be sure that the defendant stabbed the victim.   I tried to reason with her and rule out the improbable (did she think someone else came along after the defendant ran off and stabbed the victim - the victim who identified the defendant from memory and picked him out of a photo line-up?)  There was about 1 minute between when the victim got up and stumbled into the street stopping a car to have them call 911 after being stabbed.  Then I tried  discussing the three elements we needed to agree on.  Nope.  At first I thought she had seen too many episodes of CSI - she wanted more eyewitnesses, the weapon, blood splatter evidence, forensics, confessions, video of the crime, satellite views, and probably a declaration from heaven above.  But then I realized that was all excuses.  No reasonable person could ignore all of the evidence.  I think she just didn't want to make a decision that would send the bad guy to jail.  And there was no convincing her otherwise.  So we marched back into the courtroom and the judge declared a mistrial.  What a shame.

What is NOT a shame is Elliott at his lacrosse banquet.  He has the best GPA of any of the players and looked really good when they called him up on stage.  He got his varsity letter that night.  Lucie is the booster treasurer and I did the DVD of the season pictures which ran all night in the background.  Here is the video:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kitties Galore!

For the past week or so, the dogs were barking and digging at the shed at the corner of our lot.  I looked under the shed with a flashlight but couldn't see anything.  The dogs kept at it so I kept checking until one day I saw two little kittens under there!  The shed is too low for me to get under it and it is bordered on 2 sides by the split rail fence and lattice.  I can't figure out how the mother got in there but later on I figured out the mother probably had them under the workbench I have behind the shed (adjacent to it) and they crawled through the fence and under the shed.  Anyway, Lucie and I tried to get them out with tuna fish and steering them along with poles.  Nothing worked.  We just decided to leave them alone.  I looked for them the next couple of days but they seemed to be gone.  That didn't sit well with us - what kind of life would they have running around in the woods?  Then Monday morning the dogs were at it again.  So I pulled back part of the lattice and let Britni the beagle go under.  She rooted around but came back and focused on one corner of the shed.  But she was looking beyond the shed.  So I went around the back on the outside and there sat a gray kitten!  I picked it up and put it in a plastic pet crate we had.  I figured the other one was around somewhere so I went away and came back and sure enough, there was a black one in the same spot - sitting on the fence rail!  So I put that one in the crate too.  Then I went online to figure out their gender.  Both males.  I figured my work was done but the dogs kept barking.  So back I went and found TWO more!  Oh my!  The whole gang got put in the crate and they were happy to be together again.  They looked nice and healthy and well fed.  All blue-eyed with their ears standing up which put them at about 4 weeks old.  According to my inspection, there were two males, and two females. The gray one we named Smoke Monster (from the show Lost), a black one we named Hisser (he hissed a lot but never bit), the other black one Olive and the striped one Tiger Lilly.  Couldn't find the mother.  Some friends came over with dry cat food and I got some kitty formula from the pet store.  They lapped up the formula and ate the food.  I left them outside in the bench by the pool with the lid open overnight but mama cat never came (that I could tell).  They snuggled together under the towels we put in ther and it wasn't very cold.  We couldn't find anyone to take them and I wanted to be sure they weren't euthanized so I did a lot of research only to find that the SPCA is now considered no-kill.  So, after initially not contacting them, I called them and they were the best!  Took them right in and really loved them.  They said they would be adopted really quickly.  Oh, it turns out I mis-identified Tiger Lilly.  Turns out she is a he so we re-named him Tiger Willy.  When I got home, mama cat showed up - looked just liked Tiger Willy.  I have a catch and release trap out there with some tuna in it.  The SPCA said they would take mama if I caught her.

I wish I knew how their lives would turn out and what lives would be affected by them.  I do know they are better off there than trying to survive in the woods.  And us keeping them was not an option.  I was their first human contact and they got a lot of loving from the family and friends who came over.  One lesson learned from this whole experience had to do with the shelter search.  I was originally told the SPCA would take the kitties but then euthanize them.  It wasn't until after I had looked at all of the other options when I was told, by a specialized animal hospital (where we had taken Britni for her eye condition) that the SPCA had become a no-kill shelter.  And when I called them, they were the most sincere and honest and compassionate of all the places I had contacted.  It was simply the right place for them to be.  Had I not done all of my research, I would have missed an opportunity to do the right thing.  Lesson learned.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Worm Just Ate My Shade

Everyone knows the story about Jonah and the whale but there's another little part of the story that doesn't get mentioned often.  After Jonah got spat up on the beach and went to Ninevah, the city was saved.  But Jonah got mad and told God that God could have saved the city without Jonah going through his whole ordeal.  Jonah could have just stayed home and God could have done His thing and saved Jonah a whole lot of aggravation.  So Jonah marches off all mad and sits down in the blazing sun in a huff.  God was merciful and made a vine grow (quickly I guess!) and it provided shade to Jonah.  So Jonah literally cooled off and felt better.  But the next day, God sent a worm and it ate the plant and there was Jonah right back in the heat and again, he got mad.  But God used the worm and the vine to teach Jonah a lesson about priorities and provision.  I thought of that story today when I saw that I had exhausted my Unemployment Benefits.  My how time flies...  The Department of Labor website reports that because the state's unemployment level has dropped below a certain percentage, there are no extensions available.  The Unemployment money certainly isn't much and only offers a little "shade," but it is better than nothing.  I had an immediate gut-sinking feeling of, "what are we going to do now?"  Then I remembered making that same statement six months ago and God has provided over and over and over.  So just as God provided the Unemployment as a means of provision for us, He can provide any other way as well.  We don't know what happened to Jonah - at the end of the book he is still angry but I choose to believe that God taught him his lesson and Jonah learned it.  And so shall I.  God could have saved Jonah a whole lot of heartache but there was a purpose for what He did.  And I have to believe there is a purpose for this as well.