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Comments by menchar

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Posted on July 6 at 3:27 p.m.

I may, Ken, when I have the time. Maybe when I retire.

Despite having noted some of the clownish things I've seen, I take jury duty quite seriously. It can be exhausting and emotionally draining to do a good job, and often times I will find my self reflecting on a case months or years afterwards. I often believe I've considered a case more seriously than any of the professional participants. The circumstances are often tragic, and usually there's no real "winner" other than society as a whole, for having established and maintained a system of laws.

I don't regret any of it.

On Attorney Found in Contempt of Court

Posted on July 6 at 12:22 p.m.

I dunno, Darryl, you might want to dial this back a bit and let it settle out. You have to work with these people, albeit in an adversarial scheme. I imagine there must be due process to appeal a contempt no matter how arbitrarily it might have been originally issued? I grew up with three sisters who amused themselves by baiting me, I know what that's like. Common sense will, hopefully, prevail here.

I know of an incident where, just after a court session had ended and as the courtroom was clearing, defense counsel said to the lead plaintiff counsel "F**k you!" in front of the jury. The plaintiff counsel, who later was named California litigator of the year, replied, "no, no, I'm going to f**k you!" and the jury erupted in laughter. No contempt was ever issued and the plaintiffs prevailed in the single largest tort judgement in American history to that point.

I've seen jurors fall asleep and snoring, judges falling asleep, gang members coming into the gallery and intimidating jurors, judges dodging court so they can go to a Dodger game, witnesses comically lying on the stand, attorneys forgetting what case they were on, attorneys forgetting the name of their client, drunk attorneys, and my personal favorite, a front row juror in a federal court using a straw as if to snort some of the 22 kilos of coke on an evidence table in front of us.

Heck, I've misbehaved in court. One federal trial had a Columbian drug case defendant claiming, in Spanish, to have been bitten "en mi culo" by a "horrible animal" (police dog). Understanding the Spanish, I started laughing and the entire court reacted. The judge (the notable Edward Rafeedie) was pissed but nothing came of it.

After this trial (where we found two of three defendants guilty), the jury went back into the federal jury pool, and we showed up a week later in the same courtroom with the same US Attorney, on another drug case. The US attorney saw us coming in and got a big grin on his face, and managed to seat 9 of us from the previous trial. The public defenders didn't have a clue.

I could write a book.

On Attorney Found in Contempt of Court

Posted on July 5 at 12:05 p.m.

I understand snugspout's reaction, and have experienced this same sentiment.

But that's no excuse to pervert the proceeding with a frivolous or insincere verdict as snugspout claims. What did that achieve, other than to demonstrate that the "pure and good" jury was capable of descending to the same level as the allegedly misbehaving court?

I'll agree that county courts are often like a soap opera. In my experience, the only court system that meets the (possibly naive) expectations of the general public is federal court, where everything is "better" - better attorneys, better judges, better testimony, and better treatment of the jury - the court rises for the jury when it enters a federal courtroom.

Being a good juror can be frustrating and exhausting. As a juror, you can always ask the judge a question during the trial, and some courts have allowed direct questions of witnesses by the jury, though this is rare.

But at the end of the day, a good juror focuses on being a good and honest judge of the facts, and is able to ignore the irrelevant. I always imagine how I would feel if I were one of the stakeholders, and what I would want from a juror were I involved, be that as a defendant, a witness, or a victim (and you are always involved as a member of the "people" in a criminal trial).

Jury duty, is, in fact, a duty of citizenship. Being a good juror is being a good citizen and serves the public good. And that means doing a good job regardless of the circumstances of courtroom behavior.

On Attorney Found in Contempt of Court

Posted on July 5 at 2:36 a.m.

I've sometimes wondered what counsel was thinking in not challenging me off a jury. I've only been challenged twice, and once was where I effectively asked the defense to do so, by emphasizing that I had just two days prior witnessed a crime of similar nature to the case in question.

I belonged on the jury in the DUI case I mentioned - I answered all of voir dire with complete honesty, and brought an unbiased perspective and hunger for the truth to the trial.

Attorneys and judges often find me fascinating, in that I have more jury trial experience than most lawyers.

But no, I won't be having lunch with Genis. He can subscribe to a juror research service (maybe they don't have these in Santa Barbara?) if he wants to gain insight on prospective jurors. My original comment still stands: I have seen plenty of nonsense in courtrooms, and this is a tempest in a small Santa Barbara teapot.

On Attorney Found in Contempt of Court

Posted on July 4 at 5:44 p.m.

Genis went to Loyola Law School, if that matters. The school has produced several nationally known "high profile" attorneys, not to say that Genis is one of them.

I sat on a jury in a DUI case Genis "won" by hung jury. I thought his defense silly and voted to convict. Having said that, if I ever get a DUI I'm calling him. He is vigorous and effective in defense, on serious cases that merit competent representation - there are profound consequences to a DUI conviction.

I do understand the need to prosecute DUI cases, we continue to see the very grave consequences of DUI in Santa Barbara. Small wonder, in a city that caters and serves alcohol in hundreds of establishments to a car-centric society with 70,000 college age students.

I've participated in many hundreds of hours of jury trial proceedings as a juror, and I've witnessed more buffoonery in the courtroom by jurists, counsel, witnesses, jurors and defendants than you might imagine - none of which resulted in a contempt.

This sounds very much like a "girl thing" to me, with a female DA, female judge, and a baiting female prosecutor. But then, Justice is often portrayed as a woman who is blind, but not deaf.

On Attorney Found in Contempt of Court

Posted on June 9 at 11:26 a.m.

Good article.

I live right down the street from this place, thankfully most of the nonsense stays close to the motel.

But, as a taxpayer, it looks like some sizable portion of the police protection I pay for through my property taxes is being spent on calls to Motel 6. I suspect the Sandyland motel next door to it is similar.

I'm curious if the bed tax going to Carp even begins to cover the cost of policing this property.

I'm also struggling to understand what, if any, benefit to the city is coming from this property. It's not as if Motel 6 is some sort of corporate good neighbor; rather, it's operating what is apparently a public nuisance masquerading as a motel.

Carp just raised the bed tax, maybe it's time to raise it again, or target properties with high policing costs with a higher rate.

On I Almost Stayed at Motel 6

Posted on April 5 at 7:54 a.m.

What's missing is an explanation for why the victim was "staggering in lanes" on the freeway as reported by several witnesses. I can understand the family transferring their grief and anger onto Huynh, but he is guilty of leaving the scene, not manslaughter. Had Huynh stopped, it appears that no crime would have been committed and the victim would still be deceased.

The whole truth is not being told here. Why was the victim staggering around on the freeway in the first place?

On Emotions Run Deep at Sentencing Hearing

Posted on March 30 at 1:03 p.m.

Several of the jurors were crying?

Someone thought involuntary manslaughter was an appropriate finding?

So two of the jurors just couldn't bring themselves to convict these nice young men of murder, and couldn't convict one of them at all - who was just a poor, basically good young man, really, caught up in circumstances not of his doing.

Baloney.

If you believe the defense counsel it's Ied's fault for unexpectedly dying after being beaten by these street thugs!

Where was the common sense and sanity in this jury? Where is justice for the victim?

On Gang Members Convicted of Murder

Posted on March 3 at 4:47 p.m.

Cyclists use this road because it's famous, in fact, world famous - I've met foreign cyclists who come out to ride Gibraltar on their visit to the SB area. Lance Armstrong has been known to ride it, and it's been a part of cycling tradition in the SB area for a long time.

While some cyclists are indeed fools, the ones on Gibraltar tend to be experienced cyclists - it's way too steep for casual riding, you've got to be pretty serious to have gone up it very far.

I believe the road is still posted at the base with a sign cautioning drivers to the presence of cyclists and to share the road.

On Olympic Cyclist in Bad Crash

Posted on March 3 at 1:32 p.m.

I have ridden up and down Gibraltar many dozens of times over the years, and I'd say it's equally likely that the forest service truck was in the middle of the road rather than off to the side. While careless or reckless cyclists can drift into the middle or downhill side on a fast descent, experienced cyclists know the road and stay to the right on the curves. With a wide vehicle like a truck it can be a bad combination if you swing a little wide at the wrong moment on a curve.

I can't tell you how many times I've been on Gibraltar when a vehicle comes on way too fast and as they pass I can smell the weed they're smoking. I've come upon forest service trucks too - they are often in the middle of the road because they're wide vehicles and it takes anticipation on the truck driver's part to go to the right in case there's a cyclist/vehicle coming down.

We lost that UCSB student cyclist to a truck on Gibraltar a few years ago, also associated with the forest service doing Camino Cielo repaving.

Since NFS vehicles are the biggest ones commonly on Gibraltar it seems that it would make sense for the NFS to ensure that their drivers (and their vendors) know to anticipate cyclists on this popular cycling road.

I hope Rory recovers from this and will get back on the bike.

On Olympic Cyclist in Bad Crash

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