Monthly Archives: March 2015
Thanks to fellow blogger gpcox for this tribute to my uncle posting during his well-researched stories about the Pacific war .
Admiral Yamato ordered Nagumo into a night battle with the American ships. US Admiral Spruance knew the enemy was out there, but felt he shouldn’t venture too far from Midway Island. This decision ultimately avoided the trap the enemy had set and ultimately led to the following decision….
The Japanese Combined Fleet’s flagship signaled out at midnight, “MIDWAY OPERATION IS CANCELED.” This massive defeat for the enemy was only worsened when 2 of Admiral Kurita’s force collided with each other. The IJN Mogami was damaged and the Mikuma sank from further air attacks.
The result of the Battle of Midway was a definite shift of balance of the naval power in the Pacific. The Japanese Combined Fleet of 145 vessels had burned more fuel for this operation than the entire Imperial Navy had used in the previous year. The enemy had lost 4…
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I want to write about one of the best trials , in a way , that I’ve seen . An Iranian -American husband sent his wife back to Iran for a month to visit her family . During that time he sent her a quit-claim deed for her to sign . He had written the “sign this” note in Farsi . He instructed her to hurry-up and return the thing . She spoke no English . She did as she’d been told , and when she got back to the states he had thrown out all of her stuff and he was living in the house with another woman .
But first , before any more of that , I’d like to mention my wonderment that so many of the jurors on my recent jury duty had never been called for jury duty before . I mean , with me a year or two might go by without a jury summons . But , I’ve been on several juries over the years . Ain’t that happening with ever-body ? I guess not .
I was on jury duty with the city of Burbank several years ago , although I didn’t live in Burbank . They were experimenting with a new ( at the time ) call- in system . Instead of showing up at the courthouse each of the ten days , waiting in the jury room and wondering if you’d be called for a panel , the idea was to call in each morning . If they needed you they’d tell you to come in .
But a juror had to put in ten days minimum of service . I thought the call -in was great , at first . I was substitute-teaching that year , so I put in my call to the court , never knowing if I’d have to go in to court that day , and I also waited for the sub-desk to call with work for the day . Three weeks of calling- in passed and I’d done only two days of jury service . This call-in stuff might go on forever , I thought . It became a real hassle for me . It was awkward to accept a teaching job for the day only to possibly have to call the sub-office a little later to say I wouldn’t be showing up after all . That wouldn’t help my prospects for future jobs.
After about four weeks , having completed three days of service so far , I requested a hardship release from the jury service . Oh, they let me off , but they weren’t nice about it .
By the way , Los Angeles now has a call-in system too , but it lasts one week . If they don’t need you during that week , then you’re done .
Defense attorney , interviewing his client :
” What do you do for a living ? ”
Him: ” I park cars .”
Attorney : ” How much money do you have in the bank ? ”
Him : ” Two hundred and fifty dollars . ”
Cross-examination by her attorney :
” Did you make a large cash withdrawal on ( here he makes a point of looking at his notes ) April 13 ?”
Him: ” Yes .”
Her attorney : ” How much did you withdraw ? ”
Him: ” Eighty thousand dollars . ”
” What kind of car do you drive ? ”
Him: ” Porsche .”
Her attorney : ” What year ? ” That year’s , he admitted . At this point he’s beginning to squirm , just a little .
” Cash . ”
” How much did your house cost ? ” He related a price . I don’t remember the cost . L.A. prices .
” How did you pay for that ?”
By this time he’s squirming a lot more . ” Cash .”
Her attorney : ” You’re not telling the court that you’re a poor man , are you ? ”
Him: ” I guess not .” And that was the beginning . He had witnesses that lied on the stand . Her lawyer easily and quickly caught them in the lie . One after another . One guy claimed to have overheard the wife talking to her friend a month before she went to Iran about her intention to sign the quit-claim deed .
Her lawyer , to the witness : ” How many languages do you speak ? ”
” English . ”
” Any other languages ? ”
” No.Just English . ”
” She doesn’t speak English , so how could you have overheard the conversation ? ”
Lying Witness : ” I guess couldn’t have .”
Her Attorney : ” Why did you tell us you did ? ”
Lying Witness , pointing at the husband : ” Because he paid me twenty-five dollars ! ”
One witness after another was caught in a lie and brought to that same moment of truth : ” He paid me twenty-five dollars ! ” One after another . It was like an episode of Perry Mason . Things like that don’t happen in real life . But , in this trial , they did .
I was thinking two things : 1. His lawyer should have advised him better . 2. Twenty-five dollars ? Really ? You get what you pay for .
One guy said he witnessed the wife signing a quit-claim deed . He was sitting in his car at the time , and claimed to have seen the signing from there . Her lawyer had measured all of the distances and mentioned all of the corners from the parking lot to the office , and asked the poor liar how it would be possible to have seen around those corners , through those doors , for such a long distance , watching from his car , but still be able to see the documents , etc .
Lying Witness : ” I guess that would be impossible .”
Her Attorney : ” Why did you tell the court that if , as you say , it would be impossible ? ”
Yeah . Absolutely . He pointed to the husband : ” Because he paid me twenty-five dollars .” I looked over at his lousy lawyer once again . Shouldn’t you have told the man that in this country he would actually have to present some kind of a case ?
I mean , it was one after another : $25 ; $25 ; $25 . The jury had their hands over their faces , trying to hide uncontrollable smiles , trying not to laugh out loud .
I couldn’t help thinking about the final scenes of Perry Mason , when the guilty person finally blurts a dramatic confession out in court . But , things like that don’t really happen in court , do they ?
After closing time , just as the employees were beginning to exit the store , three men barged in , yelling . The big guy in front waved a gun and the fourteen employees pushed back into the store . They were ordered to strip to their underwear and were herded into the employee restroom . They were told to stand against the wall and to not look at the intruders .
Two women employees were in an adjacent locker room when the men entered . One of them managed to call her husband on her cell phone . She told him to call the police . The two were quickly discovered and brought to the restroom . One had a knife put to the back of her neck and her life was threatened . ” Did you make a call ? ” She denied it .
One of the employees was identified as the one person who knew the combination to the store safe and she was taken to the room where the safe was . Another woman was taken from the restroom and escorted to what was called the Loss Prevention (LP) room , where the store surveillance monitors were housed . Later , she returned to the restroom , telling the others that she had been raped .
The big guy who entered first , holding a gun , was photographed from various angles by store cameras . He wasn’t wearing a mask . His two partners were .
Each of these birds sat with a lawyer in court . The lawyers for the two defendants each claimed that his and her client had nothing to do with the crime . They weren’t even there . One was the brother of the big guy . The other was the boyfriend of a sister of the two brothers . ” Didn’t hang out with them ; didn’t even know them ,” the boyfriend’s lawyer said .
Okay . The burden of proof is on the District Attorney . I was not impressed with her questioning of potential jurors . There were lots of ” You guys ( meaning the jury ) ” and confusing statements . But , later , her opening statement was right -on . She concisely outlined the evidence against these three guys .
The big guy was being accused of rape , by the way . The woman he took to the LP Room claimed rape . There was surveillance camera evidence. There was DNA evidence . There was her testimony . A related charge was kidnapping , because he had taken her to another location to further his crime . They were all accused of armed robbery .
The big guy’s lawyer , in his opening statement , conceded to the robbery , but not to the rape . The big plan , he said , had been cooked up with that woman to fake a rape and to make millions from a lawsuit against the store .
I went in with an open mind . I would consider whatever evidence would be presented and try to make a fair determination . Since I was the third alternate juror , I guessed that I wouldn’t be participating in the final deliberations . That was good , in a way , because I wouldn’t have the responsibility on my shoulders for the fate of these guys . On the other hand , I would be listening and taking notes the whole time as if I would be taking part in the deliberations , so I was sorry , in a way , to be left out of the final decision .
Well , to make a long story short , the D.A. presented overwhelming evidence , and the three defendants were all convicted . They had been calling one another , during the robbery , on cell phones . There was at least one store surveillance photo of one of the guys holding a flip-phone in one hand and a gun in the other . The police had phone records and an FBI expert identified the location of the calls at those exact times as having been made in or near the store . They had all used phones registered in their names .
When the robbers escaped , a cop spotted their getaway vehicle . The robbers stole personal items from the employees as well as having got about $15,000 from the safe . They stole a couple of cell phones . The police tracked the exact GPS location of one of the stolen cells and , that way , found the abandoned getaway vehicle soon after the robbery , which had the cell phone inside , and masks , and gloves , and fingerprints , and DNA of the three who would be the three defendants sitting in court . The vehicle belonged to the niece of the two brothers . The boyfriend had been arrested near the vehicle awhile after the vehicle had been found by the police . A gun was found nearby , tossed in the dirt . It was registered to the big guy .
The brother of the big guy was arrested at his apartment a few miles away two days after the robbery . His DNA had been on a mask found in the vehicle . When arrested he had about $9000 in his apartment . Some of it was stuck under the carpet . There were receipts , too , from clothing stores and sporting goods stores. He had gone on a shopping spree the day before , a day after the robbery . Despite his mask , two of the fourteen employees had identified him as one of the robbers .
Okay . What about the rape ? The big guy took the stand in his own defense . He said that he had told his two companions not to rob the employees , because the goal was bigger . He claimed , at first , to have never pointed a gun at anyone . When cross-examined by the DA however , faced with clear photographic evidence to the contrary and with the testimony of fourteen victims , he backed down from that absurdity . But , where had he met the woman who supposedly had cooked up this scheme with him ?
He claimed to have met her ten days before the crime for the first time , by chance , in a pizza parlor near the store . She said that she worked at the store . He said that he had worked there years before in security . He had joked with her about robbing the store , he said , but she had taken him seriously . They met three more times , developing a robbery plan , but did most of the planning over the phone . It was his plan , he said , to fake a rape and have her sue for big money . He would coach her what to say . That was the plan .
The DA grilled him a little bit about that part of the plan , that he would coach the woman what to say to the store people . ” How to lie to them ” , the DA suggested . The irony of that implication seemed to be lost on the big guy and his lawyer . He had four phones at the time of the robbery . One was a Sprint phone in his name . The others were what are called ” burn phones “. One of the burn phones had all the phone records involving the woman , he said . He had dropped that phone in the store , he said , but the phone was never recovered . The clear implication was that the police had the phone but were not sharing it with the Defense . There were other inconsistencies with his testimony .
There were several counts for each defendant . It took the court clerk forty-five minutes to read through them all . ” We the jury , find ………………………..to be true .” In other words : guilty , guilty , guilty, guilty………. There had , apparently , been one or two holdouts on the jury , persons not convinced about the rape .The jury foreman told me later that two of the six rape counts had been determined ” not true ” , as a result . Evidently it had been a tough time in the jury room during the nine hours that it took to agree on the verdicts .
These guys will be going away for awhile , and the big guy for a long long time . I suspect that he’s been watching too many movies . Or , maybe it’s his lawyer who has . Now that the big guy has the time , though , he might try watching or reading THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE , or DOUBLE INDEMNITY . The characters might seem oddly familiar . The main character , who thinks it’s his plan , finally wises up when he gets double -crossed by the dame . It works in fiction .
Nowadays you serve one day of jury duty and you’re done . Well , you’re not done if you’re chosen for a jury . The trial might last two or three days . When the verdict comes in , then you’re done . In the past , I’ve been called for ” a panel ” but then not chosen for the jury . That was on my first day at the courthouse , and I was done . I’ve been on several juries over the years .
It used to be that jury duty was 10 days . People didn’t want to join a jury on their ninth or tenth day . That would extend their service , most likely , for a few more days . You could spot the short-timers as the jury was being picked . They were the ones telling the judge why they shouldn’t be chosen for this jury . None of them said : because it’s my last day or two , though . Honesty may or may not have worked .
I just ended jury duty . My one day stretched , somehow , into fourteen . Three guys on trial . Three defense lawyers , one for each defendant . Ninety of us were called for a panel . Ninety . Usually it’s thirty . It took three days to pick a jury . I was almost in the clear . A jury of twelve had been chosen and approved. Now the alternates . There would be four alternates . I was called up to the jury box , but I was seventh or eighth in line . I went home that day wondering . 50-50 chance I figured .
The guy before me , as it turned out , was a lawyer . He’s be kicked off , I thought , and I was right . The half-crazy old man who was potential alternate juror number three was also rejected . That was a given . No way he’d make the jury . Then , another possible alternate was shooed away . I was moving up . By the end of it I became alternate juror number three .
The three defendants had barged into a Nordstrom Rack department store soon after closing time , had forced the fourteen employees to strip down to their underwear and to stand against the wall in the employee restroom , had managed to steal about $15,000 from the store safe , and had escaped as the police were arriving at the location .
I think the jury were all seriously trying to do their best to listen to the testimony and to reach the right verdicts . It was a tough trial . We all went through a security check upon entering the courthouse , and another security check on the floor , only on our floor , where the trial was taking place . ” High profile cases ” one of the deputies told me . But what does that mean ? The deputy was vague on that reply . Meanwhile , take off your belt and empty your pockets .
If you really don’t want to be on a jury and have a moral code pretty loose with the truth , I realized how easy it would be to be eliminated . ” I think that , when the police arrest someone , that person is definitely , beyond a doubt , guilty ,” is all you’d have to say . The judge would then ask : ” Do you think that will interfere with you weighing the evidence and giving a fair verdict ? ” You say , Hell , Yeah , and leave it at that . The defense attorney might then ask : ” So , despite your feeling , do you think that you can be fair in this case ?
There were a few people who clearly didn’t want to be chosen for the jury in this trail . Each one was honest , I’m sure , and offered his/her best explanation , pleading with the judge . The judge rejected every excuse . In the old days , during the 10-day jury duty times , I saw a short-timer , after the jury panel was asked by the judge why anyone thought they should not be on the jury , point to someone at the defense table and say : ” He’s guilty ! ” The judge then pointed out that that guy’s not the defendant . ” Then , he’s guilty ! ” the jury panel person said , moving his accusing finger over to someone else . He was kicked off of that jury . Ah ! The good old days !
Here’s a little musical interlude , lifted from a wonderful music blog , The Immortal Jukebox , always passionately written and informative . Enjoy….
‘Sometimes, just sometimes, a one-hit wonder can make a more powerful impact than a recording star who’s got 20 or 30 hits.’ (Bob Dylan 2015 MusiCares speech’)
Rockabilly might be described as the deliriously exciting sound of a supercharged truck with no lights on hauling moonshine through the hills and hollers to outrun the dreaded excise men. Rockabilly is not a reflective music – its a full pelt, foot to the floor and damn the tyres assault on the senses. A shot of over proof booze that might well take the top of your head off and leave you stone blind but once you’ve opened that unlabelled bottle you are likely to develop the taste and keep coming back for more.
Rockabilly owes a lot to hillbilly boogie and something to the blues and rhythm and blues. It certainly was an essential ingredient of what at Sun Studios, with a…
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