Over the past two weeks, I've been covering a murder trial as part of my internship with the Charlotte Observer. I spend most of the day at the courthouse, and so far they haven't gone past the jury selection process.
In North Carolina, there are only two possible punishments if someone is found guilty of first-degree murder: life in prison without parole, or death. In terms of the jury pool, this means that anyone with a moral opposition to the death penalty is automatically excused. If a juror can't sentence a person to die, he's not fit to serve.
Forgetting the merits of capital punishment for a moment, what really bothers me are the people I've watched who can't seem to get out of jury duty. It's clear from their behavior that they don't want to sit around for two months on a murder case, but they're too dense to use the obvious death penalty excuse. It's like watching a rat in a maze; you see the easy exit from above, but the rat just kind of bumbles around against the walls going nowhere.
The unhappy jurors will be up there in the box, looking peeved, telling the judge and attorneys that they have three kids and were supposed to have the summer off and even booked a Princess cruise for late June and may be slightly ADD to boot. They'll list a thousand irrelevant excuses, but when the attorney asks them point blank if they can be impartial and resolve their other issues, they sigh, slouch in their seat, and say, "I guess so."
Meanwhile, they've watched a parade of fifteen other potential jurors get excused for not believing in the death penalty. Yet nowhere along the line did they begin to devise their own strategy! "God, this judge is a stone wall. Does he understand I booked a Princess cruise??"
These are the people who will be deciding the fate of a man's life. The two important facts about them are:
1- They're incapable of simple problem solving.
2 - They believe in the death penalty.
Plus, they'll probably be mad at the defendant for ruining their summer. If I were him, I'd just ask for the lethal injection now.
Maybe I'm a bad American, but I would absolutely lie to be excused. I'd say I was in favor of drowning house pets for sport if it kept me from serving on a murder trial, even though after studying that issue I think I'm opposed in most situations.
On to Monday's action:
-The Bruins decimated the Canucks 8-1 in game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and now trail 2-1 in the series. In related news, I've come up with a great idea to get hockey back on track in America: a 7-foot player. Think of it! You find a big gangly one who can't really skate and put him out there for a few minutes each game to get knocked around a bit while zany saxophone music plays over the PA system. Maybe the fans can throw a squid at him, or something.
OKAY, SO IT'S NOT A GREAT IDEA, BUT I THOUGHT THEY WERE DESPERATE!
-Cliff Lee earned his fifth win of the year with a 7-inning, 10-strikeout performance against Los Angeles. Due to an arcane loophole in the California legal system, the lefty ace now owns 51% of the Dodger franchise. He received the good news after the game and immediately announced his intention to have an affair with Jamie McCourt.
-Despite a strong showing from Michael Pineda, the Mariners lost 3-1 to the Chicago White Sox. John Danks (1-8) lasted into the eighth inning for his first win of the season. Though his statistical worth is still less than that of an average replacement player, Danks is now slightly more valuable than an average rusted statue.
-Minnesota sent Cleveland to their fifth straight loss by a score of 6-4. The Indians' lead on the Tigers in the AL Central has now slipped to a game and a half. In South Asia, however, the Indians are doing quite well against the tigers, holding a substantial 1.15 billion lead.
-Plaxico Burress was released from prison yesterday. In his first moments as a free man, he told reporters it was a "beautiful day." Moments later, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg fined him $5,000 for commenting on the weather without permission.
-Finally, USC was officially stripped of its 2004 national title. The punishment stemmed from rules violations committed by Reggie Bush. As per BCS policy, the vacant national championship will go to Notre Dame, who in 2004 finished 6-6 under Tyrone Willingham.
Soccer content is on the way this afternoon.