Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Here's my previous post on the Colorado-death-penalty-overturned case. jeremy has some comments on it, and I think he's right:
That said, I strongly disagree with King's final sentence, saying that jurors IN GENERAL should be allowed to consult their religious beliefs, as to do otherwise would be an infringement of their first amendment rights. Juries are under all sorts of restrictions which seem to obviate Amendment rights. Gag orders, orders against reading newspapers, all of these are "violations" of Amendment rights. The jury-system relies on jurors to act in a very particular way while they serve which is a very different way than that which is expected of normal citizens.
Perhaps the sentence should be amended to read:
The right of jurors to use religion as a guide for such moral decisions should not be infringed upon, as it would be a textbook violation of the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Regardless, jeremy's second point is the more important of the two, and perhaps the one that I should address. That jurors should not be asked to rely on individual moral compasses is true, as the law is ideally dispassionate. (I suppose I could bring up that relatively trite Aristotle quote that pops up in Legally Blond...) Nonetheless it seems to me that jurors doing just that is an inevitable part of the judicial system, insofar as the ideal of a trial by a jury of one's peers remains valid. Unless the average level of education and discipline among citizens rises drastically, jurors are always going to bring their personal morals into play when deciding a legal matter, despite all the chiding in the world from the presiding judge. That this trend should be minimized however possible is undeniable. That Colorado attempted to do so in codified fashion is not the problem; the problem, as jeremy rightly points out in closing, is with the death penalty itself:
it creates the life-in-prison/death dichotomy which must almost always be mediated by some judgment about a persons' soul, sorrowfulness, regret, etc. Cf. the avenging angels on the S. Peterson jury. Torture them all.
I obviously support his proposed remedy wholeheartedly.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Interestingly Enough

a Colorado court has reduced the sentence of a convicted kidnapper/rapist/murderer from the death penalty, imposed by the jury in the case, to life imprisonment. The court ruled that because they found that jurors consulted the Bible when debating whether to apply the death penalty in this case, their recommendation was suspect enough to be discounted. First of all, one fewer person is getting the death penalty which is good. (Although don't be surprised to find this case in the Supreme Court with Sandra Day O'Conner casting the deciding vote. I can see it now, a well-written, outrageous, strict-constructionalist opinion authored by Reinquist, joined by Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas, a well-written, loose-constructionalist opinion authored by Stevens, joined by Brennen, Souter, and Ginsberg, and a ridiculious, "I wanna toe some sort of middle ground here but, fuck, I've got to vote" milquetoast opinion vomited onto a page by O'Conner. The old bitch.)

Two things jump out at me about this case. While I haven't read the actual opinion of the 3 judges who voted to reduce the sentence, it seems to me that their reasoning has to include something about how the jurors used the Bible in making a legal judgement. For example, the requirement for the death penalty in California is Murder 1 plus a special circumstance (murder in the commission of a felony, murder in a particularly violent/sick fashion, murder for hire, cannabilism, etc.) If the jurors used the Bible to determine that, while there was no special circumstance present, this legal nicety was trumped by the Biblical aphorism of "an eye for an eye," and therefore this murderer deserved to die, then the judges are completely correct in their ruling.

On the other hand, generally jurors are allowed an extraordinary amount of leeway in reaching their decisions. A jury is a representative sample of the population selected to render a binding judicial decision to the best of its members' abilities. They are obviously to be guided in this by a judge who is able to explain the law to them, and the evidence presented at trial. Nonetheless, juries have been known to find defendents guilty on evidence and not guilty on principle. Hence, if the jurors decided that legally the defendent qualified for the death penalty, they're still empowered not to sentence death if they feel there are non-legal reasons not to. Enter the realm of morality. Jurors for potential death-penalty cases are disallowed if they feel they would be unable to vote for the death penalty under any circumstances. (This is ridiculious, as this type of juror is inherently more likely to vote for a conviction, and because a person can be disallowed from civic duty for holding a particular political belief, but that's neither here, nor there, nor anywhere.) If the jury decided on legal grounds that the defendent qualified for the death penalty, and then included Scripture in their discussion of the morality of imposing capital punishment, despite my ardent belief in the separation of church and state, and my hatred of religion in general, and religion in government in particular, I would have to conclude that the judges ruled wrongly. Each juror in the case has the right to make a personal decision based on legal factors, yes, but also moral factors should they have their legally constituted place. The right of jurors to use religion as a guide for moral decisions should not be infringed upon, as it would be a textbook violation of the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

When I Worked at Jamba Juice

we were in like "Special Strawberry September," which meant that there were extra strawberry-themed smoothies on the menu. I really hated making the fan-favorite "Strawberry Tsunami" because you had to get lemonade out of a refrigerator for it, rather than just sticking the blender under a juice spout. I used to make comments in the back "employees only" area like, "I hate Tsunamis." Or, "Tsunamis are such a fucking pain in the ass, when's Pineapple month starting?" Oh how little I knew.
I went back into Jamba Juice the other day and tried to order a Strawberry Tsunami, with calcium and lecethin, hold the devestation. The girl behind the counter just kind of looked at me and said, "Our fruit of the month is pineapple. Would you like to try a Pineappalooza?" I replied with, "Do you guys have a carrot carbomb, or maybe a Raspberry RPG?" She said, "You're not funny," leaving her tongue lingering on her upper lip, while her left hand undid the top button of her bright yellow polo shirt, which had Jamba Juice emblazoned above her slowly hardening left nipple.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Championship Review

Trumbull won the IM Volleyball championship for the first time in history, sweeping it's first playoff appearance in 43 years. The team gelled, and felled opponents 2-0(15-10, 15-11), 2-0(16-14, 15-2), 2-0(15-10, 15-4). The team often fell behind early in the first game, only to rally and crush the opponent's spirit for the second. Trumbull gave up a combined 17 points in the second games of the three matches. Trumbull had looked forward to meeting archnemesis Calhoun in the final; Calhoun fell in the semis to an inferior, one-dimensional Pierson team. Said Pierson's single dimension, Juan, "You know, I just went on a streak, my blood ran hot up and down my thighs, and I couldn't miss a spike." Calhoun's star player, Alexy, commented "We shoulda. We coulda. Damn." Trumbull's captian was incredibly elated after the championship match, ass-slapping each member of the team in turn, while repeating "We finally did it, I'm a champion again;" Trumbull's captain won a school-wide pogs tournament in 5th grade. Trumbull's team was also in the running for the sportsmanship award prior to the season, amid rumors that it's fiery sparkplug, Samuel, would not be back this year. Defying the haters, Samuel returned to become the best bumper in the league; Trumbull's pre-game chant was "Win!" The ACTUAL God smiled, and played, angelically.

So, fuck yeah, we beat all y'all . Undefeated next year motherfuckers.