Archive for March, 2011
Barry Bonds has now started his trial. No, he is not on trial for the USE of STEROIDS, he is on trial for LYING about it to the Grand Jury. Bonds was originally charged on November 15, 2007 (just months after breaking Hank Aaron’s home run record) with 15 counts of perjury and obstruction of justice but that has since been widdled down to just a handful. The question of whether he lied in 2003 to the grand jury about using performance-enhancing drugs is up to 8 women and 4 men (there are also 2 alternates).
Let me debunk the myths surrounding jury selection. It is NOT exactly what you see on TV. It definitely is not as dramatic or interesting. Rarely, at least in Arizona, do the lawyers get to really delve into the jurors’ thoughts and beliefs. However, there are some trials where the judges allow more in depth juror questioning; usually because it is a high profile case. For example, in this case, the potential jurors first had to complete a 19-page questionnaire and then come to the courtroom for more questioning.
Through the use of questionnaires and in courtroom questioning, the court and the attorneys are trying to find jurors who can be fair, impartial and make their decision only on the evidence that is presented to them during the trial. Not what has been said in the media, both TV and print. Additionally, they want to make sure the jurors understand the real issues – meaning – that it is not baseball on trial, or the Giants or anything like that; it is about Bonds and whether he lied.
As you can guess, this trial will be on TV. More and more high profile trials are being telecast on cable networks such as Tru TV. Although you never get to see the jury, you are able to view the rest of the trial. Including parts that the jury is not entitled to see. Before these trials can be broadcast the media has to request permission from the judge to do so. Now you may say, “but I thought courtrooms were public places.” Well, they are, however, the judge has authority over what goes on in the courtroom and anytime the media is involved there is a level of chaos.
One issue that came up even before the actual trial started; was the disclosure of the juror questionnaires. The media wanted the information, all of it, but there were valid concerns about what would happen if all the information contained in the questionnaires, including the names of the potential jurors got out. For example, there could be tampering with the jury, harassment of the jury, or you can only imagine what else. Well, in the end, the judge decided to release the questionnaires, but not the names. I believe this was a smart decision and the safest decision that could be made. It satisfies the media’s request for information and helps protect both the jurors and the jury selection process.
Now that the TVs are in place and the jury has been selected, the real trial begins. Stay tuned for updates to see what comes next…
Two weeks down and, well, countless weeks to go. The James Ray Sweat Lodge manslaughter trial wrapped up its second week on Friday with not many surprises or revelations.
Let’s back up a minute and go from the beginning. James Ray, a former motivational speaker/spriritual leader conducted a Spiritual Warrior retreat/program in October 2009. The program ended with a sweat lodge ceremony. No, this wasn’t a sweat lodge ceremony conducted in the presence of a traditional Native American leader, this was a ceremony led by James Ray.
Around 50 people attended the program, some paying approximately $9,600.00 to attend and participate. The program included lectures, challenges (such as cutting all your hair off), games (such as the “Samurai Game”) a vision quest, a fast and a rebirthing in a sweat lodge ceremony. During the last part of the program, the sweat lodge ceremony, 3 people died and numerous others suffered injuries. Subsequently James Ray was charged with 3 counts of manslaughter.
So, what does this mean? It means that he is facing over 30 years in prison if convicted. It means the prosecution has to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, to 12 strangers, that he was aware of a substantial risk of death and that he consciously disregarded that risk. That is a very tall order. Especially in light of the fact they were not tied down, not kidnapped and not held at gunpoint.
In my opinion, and based on what I have watched on Tru TV, here is some of what the prosecution wants to say through its witnesses in order to prove its case. (Granted, there is a lot more the prosecution wants to say, but this is a start):
• Ray was aware that someone could get seriously injured or die in the sweat lodge;
• Ray didn’t tell the participants that they could get seriously injured or die in the seat lodge;
• Ray was so persuasive and controlling that he basically took “free will” away from the participants thus keeping them from being able to leave the sweat lodge;
• Ray psychologically pressured participants to remain in the lodge even when they weren’t feeling well, contributing to their deaths.
In light of this you may be wondering if any of this has come out yet, or if the prosecution witnesses are fulfilling the wishes of the state. Short answer, kind of. So far the witnesses have been helpful to the prosecution in that they have started painting the picture of what the program was about, what actually happened during the program, what the sweat lodge looked and felt like, how James Ray acted before, during and after the sweat lodge ceremony, and the chaos that ensued after the sweat lodge ceremony.
However, those same witnesses have helped the defense in that they have been competent and credible witnesses, showing they have a mind of their own. They testified they read the waivers and signed them, that James Ray encouraged them to hydrate prior to the ceremony and after the fast and that this was not a cult.
How will it take shape this week? Stay tuned…
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to see Garth Brooks live in Vegas with my sister in law and WOW, what a show! The thunder rolled from the beginning until the very end and it seemed no one wanted it to stop.
I have always said that the top three concerts I ever saw were Janet Jackson in March 1995, Garth Brooks the summer of 1996 and Justin Timberlake September 2007. Well, Garth outdid himself. This show at the Encore Theater at Wynn Casino is just.simply.fantastic! All it is is Garth, no special effects, no video screens, no props, no costumes and no band. When you first sit down in your seat you notice there is no bad seat in the theater. Every seat has a good view of the empty stage that has nothing other than a stool, a guitar stand and two bottles of water.
Garth runs onto the stage in his jeans, black button up shirt and a black baseball cap. No gimmicks, just Garth. He proceeds to start the show in the year of 1962, when he was born, and continue through the 90s. The entire show is about him explaining the influences in his life, both family wise and musically. He performs songs was various decades and various artists, all to give life and background to who he is today and the history of his music.
From Merle Haggard, to George Jones, to Bob Dillion, to Bob Seger, to Billy Joel to Chris Ledoux, to George Straight to James Taylor, he hits them all and you find yourself singing along with every story.
His passion and love for music and performing is his companion on stage and you find both sitting on your shoulder throughout the show. His genuine and sincere personality along with a childlike happiness emanates to every seat in the house. He has always come across to me as the most genuine, authentic, and humble American Icon ever and tonight further solidified that belief. I am lucky to have been able to share in this experience and am more enriched because of it. This should be on your bucket list, because, like I said, I smiled for over 2 hours straight and my cheeks did not ache, not even a little bit!