Jul 01 2008

Hang tight

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My first of several trials ended Wednesday with a hung jury.

It started Monday and the Jury deliberated longer than the trial.

It is my understand we start over from square one this coming Wednesday, just in time for the Fourth of July. After that I have another jury trial for marijuana possession. And after that a ‘hearing’, I wanted a lawyer and a jury trial, but they wouldn’t let me have one.

Just before the trial we had two fires here. The first one was in Bonny Doon. Cagey was evacuated and we communicated a bit through the local newspaper forum. Her house was spared. The second fire was north of Watsonville and burned for several days. The reports are it was started by hot exhaust.

It occurred to me today that this is only the second jury trial I’ve been through, and the other one found me guilty of two felonies for possession for sale and sale of less than an ounce of marijuana. That was back in 1996. The date on the sheet my lawyer had was 21 Dec 96, I think. Though I am certain that must have been the date of the final judgement and not of the trial.

This last trial is for battery. I wrote about the incident in Trail of Tears.

The fact is it wasn’t until just before the trial was to begin that I knew which trial I would be facing. I couldn’t find my paperwork, and it was such a traumatic event for me I couldn’t bring myself to think about it. I’ve remembered a great deal since the trial and particularly since I was on the stand.

I’m almost looking forward to another trial. Everything is settled in my mind now and I do believe the next jury will not be so one-sided, and that will be the end of that.

On the other hand, even if I’m found not guilty on the jury trials, there is the peeing trial with no lawyer and no jury and I figure they’ll get me on that one even if they don’t on the other two.

Robert called me the night of the first day of the trial, with the result that I didn’t get any sleep the day before I testified. Becky showed up at the trial and took copious notes. Steve Argue showed up as well and it was good to have ‘witnesses’ in the courtroom. It’s really a scary place when you’re all alone in there.

Just before I was to testify on Tuesday afternoon, the judge called Becky and a juror on the carpet on suspicion of improper communication with a juror. I thought they were going to declare a mistrial and things had seemed to be going well. Becky said she thought I could win at that point without testifying.

I broke down on the stand. I remember my lawyer told me she was going to put a cup of water up there and I thanked her because my mouth gets dry. But when I got up there I froze, and couldn’t speak. And I couldn’t find the water. It took me several seconds to get my voice back.

It was extremely emotional. I felt as is I must have appeared to be over-acting.

Becky sat in front of the court house all afternoon Wednesday, until the jury came in. And she interviewed the jurors after the trial.

The jury declared themselves hopelessly deadlocked at 3pm Wednesday. It was 11 to 1 for conviction. They took 4 votes, two of them secret ballot. Becky said they told her the hold-out was pressured into changing her vote by the others, but then another juror held-out. The implication is that if there’d been another vote there could have been two hold-outs.

Becky said they told her they didn’t like the witness and he didn’t seem credible to them. But they felt I must be guilty of something or the city wouldn’t be prosecuting this.

My lawyer had made a motion to prevent any mention of prior arrests or marijuana. I protested at some length stating I couldn’t explain anything without bringing in medical marijuana because it’s all about medical marijuana. I wouldn’t be homeless in the first place if I weren’t a medical marijuana patient. But I could see her point, that opening that can of worms would mean a trial that could take weeks, or months.

But Becky said that limiting motion influenced the jurors, especially when the prosecution accidentally slipped on purpose, and the judge instructed her not to mention any prior convictions. They felt there must be something bad I was hiding.

The trial we had was a “my word against his word” trial.

Becky said one of the jurors criticisms was that my attorney did not undercut the plaintiff’s credibility enough. And that was my fault. She asked me to write down anything that was wrong with his testimony but when he started I realized I could never begin to get everything down, and gave up. I won’t make that mistake next time.

Becky said they were all relieved not to return a guilty verdict.


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