Friday, July 8, 2011

Gil Grissom doesn't work here anymore

Is it my imagination or did gas prices go up fifteen cents overnight?

Is this economic cluster f**k never going to end? I see a message in my email from my supervising attorney advising all of us that effective July 1, 2011, the Minnesota ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) office is closed due to that state's budget crisis. And that is just part of one state agency . . . for all intents and purposes, the entire state of Minnesota is shut down. If this was a business, it would have shuttered it's windows, locked the doors, and put up "Closed" signs.

Oh, Casey, if you decide to birth more babies, I suggest you do it outside of the state of Florida. I can only imagine that delivery room nurses and hospital social workers will have DCF's abuse hotline on speed dial ...

Am I the only one who has noticed that Casey has always been perfectly coiffed, made up, and dressed throughout this ordeal? When she deigned to shed a few well-planned tears, she was very careful to pat under her eyes so as not to smear her mascara and perfectly applied eyeliner. She constantly pats her hair so no stray strands mar her appearance. And even when standing to hear the verdict, she straightened her blouse so that she looked perfect for the cameras. Every time she has sat down or stood up throughout this trial, she has engaged in what Trekkies will recognize as "the Picard Maneuver". Oh yes, this is a woman who has been grieving for her dead child. And I'm the Queen of Romania.

Ah well, that's all I have to say about that. By now the entire English speaking world knows that Casey is waltzing out of jail on July 13, 2011  July 17, 2011. Stay tuned.

The day after the verdict, one of the HLN hosts had as it's guest Kathy Reichs.  I seem to remember that she had been approached by the defense early on, but did not actually consult on the case.  Or did she?  Lost among the detritus of Jose Bozo's numerous discovery violations, it is unclear to me who he spoke to and to what extent.

For those of you who are not hopelessly addicted to mysteries, thrillers, and police procedurals, Kathy Reich is the author of a series of books featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, as well as executive producer of the TV series "Bones."  She is by profession a forensic anthropologist, and her books, which I started reading many years before the show hit the airwaves, provided a considerable education to this former biology major.  Even as entertainment, her books are not for the undereducated.  The same can be said for the books written by Patricia Cornwell and Jefferson Bass.  To appreciate these books at all levels, one needs to take the time to carefully read the forensic material being presented.  I had never given it a thought before, but surely there are many people who are disinterested or bored or simply unable to understand the scientific stuff, so they skim it to get to what they consider the good parts, whether it is character development and relationships, courtroom drama, or the police procedurals. 

And I am guessing that these are the same people who might watch any of the number of television dramas such as CSI or NCIS, and simply zone out during the autopsy scenes, or treat big chunks of the dialogue as so much technobabble.  And you know what - that's okay.  For the sake of personal entertainment, people should get whatever it is they want from any show, and if your focus has always been the relationship between Gil Grissom and Sara Sidle, then put your feet up and enjoy.  I admit I wept a few happy tears when Gil tracked Sara down in the jungles of Costa Rica and took her into his arms.

But despite the circus atmosphere which pervaded the case, this was not entertainment.  It might have been, in the words of Steve Buscemi's mad scientist character from "Armageddon", a "goddam Greek tragedy", but it wasn't entertainment.  A responsible jury would not simply pick and choose what evidence to pay attention to, while seemingly ignoring big chunks of information.  A responsible jury would also not overlook almost an hour of jury instructions, patiently read to them by the Judge.
Dr. G  kathy_lab  
 Dr. Jan Garavaglia, Dr. Kathy Reichs, Dr. Gil Grissom

Back to Kathy Reichs - one of the things she discussed was that some of the state's forensic evidence was derived from very new types of procedures and therefore not as reliable as some of the other evidence.  This fascinated me, and if I was on the jury, I would have wanted the nitty gritty details as to why some experts felt the method of obtaining the evidence was or was not scientifically reliable.  That would have certainly required that I reexamine certain physical evidence and testimony.  That would have taken time, and thought, and consideration.  I would have wanted to know more about why the Chief Medical Examiner was able to classify the death as a homicide, even though she could not determine a cause of death (incidentally, I do know the answer to this, as I have had to depose Dr. G in the past, and she was extremely patient and gracious in answering my questions.  However, to the best of my knowledge, none of those jurors has been in my position, and therefore it would have behooved them to take a moment to review her testimony.)  I would have wanted to pore over those jury instructions until I knew them like I know the words to the Pledge of Allegiance, and if I had any questions about the meaning of any words or phrases, I would want to discuss it with my co-jurors and if necessary, ask for clarification from the bench.  And all of this would have taken time. 

Having invested six weeks of my time sequestered in an anonymous hotel, spending all my daytime hours listening to soporific testimony from lay persons and experts from all over the country, I would not short change the court by hurrying the deliberation process.  I would not suffer a sudden attack of Adult Deficit Disorder, and lose interest because CSI didn't present it to me in a neat little package.  (Maybe if Dr. G's television show was on network TV instead of Discovery Channel, these jurors might have caught a few episodes; especially if it was sandwiched between "Two and a Half Men" and "Survivor".  I bet that would have impressed them enough to vote her way.)  

I would not base the verdict on any unreasonable expectations I might have acquired from watching too many episodes of CSI, CSI: Miami, and CSI: New York.  (Which I suppose could have rendered me the perfect victim of  the"CSI Effect" - something that Kathy Reichs said she would be lecturing about to a roomful of lawyers at the upcoming ABA convention.)  I guess this problem is becoming endemic.  Certainly the Casey Anthony jury was not immune.

And even if I did none of the above, I would do my damndest to get straight in my head the meaning of the phrase "REASONABLE DOUBT" and how it applied to the facts of my case.

Hmmm ... since the CDC is now warning people to be prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse, I wonder if they would be willing to recommend all future jurors be innoculated against the CSI Effect?

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