Saturday, June 27, 2009

Current Events: Victoria Balfour and People vs. Ayers

I have always believed a good defense attorney should argue vigorously for his or her client’s rights. If that argument includes adding a journalist, who was for all intent and purposes part of the investigation, to the witness list, then so be it. However, the more I read of the story, the more questions I had.

The facts appear simple - Victoria Balfour is a journalist for the San Diego Reader, and she wants to report on the People vs. Ayres trial and write a book on this case. For that reason she has kept a close eye on all the events surrounding its progress. You may say that just because she wants to write a book doesn’t mean they should allow her to sit in during trial. You would be correct to argue that view. Still, the system should not muzzle anyone’s right to freedom of speech. So, I believe, they should allow reporter Victoria Balfour to sit in court and report on the facts of this case. The book isn’t the issue, the journalist rights are at issue.

Victoria Balfour isn’t on the prosecution witness list, although, from what Robin Sax reports, Balfour did, as an investigative reporter, give the DA information that helped them in their decision to bring this case to trial. The fact she isn’t on the witness list for the prosecution tells me they do not feel she can add anything to their case during trial. I, too, wonder just what she can add to the defense case. I would think they’d feel she could harm their case, not help it. So I’m getting those hmm moments that make me curious. What are the reasons for adding her to the list of possible witnesses?

I am agreeing with Robin Sax, why hasn’t the Prosecutor come forth and argue that the defense show cause for adding Balfour to their witness list? Especially since they apparently haven’t contacted her prior or since including her.

One could argue that she could purchase a copy of the court manuscript to help write a book that includes the trial facts. But, I believe that is a wrong argument. A writer needs more than words spoken by a person. She (He) needs to give the reader such a clear picture that each reader is inside the witnesses’ mind so they can see how each witness became part of the events of the case. She (He) needs to see the defense attorney and prosecutor in action to write chapters that come to life on the pages and put the reader in that courtroom. Otherwise, the book would be clinical. Boring!

And, too, otherwise the book would leave the readers with questions about why the author calls her or himself an author or a journalist. If I were a juror, if I not only hear the witnesses’ testimony but pay attention to how they present their testimony before making a decision on whether to disregard parts or all of their testimony, I’d be well informed to do just that. A journalist is well informed when they pay close attention to the facts. They can then report truths and not opinion.

Again, I say, it’s not the book Balfour aspires to write that is at issue, it’s her right as a journalist to do her job and report on the trial. I have to wonder that if they exclude her from attending the trial so she can do her job and do it well, if they are muzzling her freedom of speech.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Is Caring- That Human, And Parental Instinct, Out of Commission?

So often we read of severe abuse and death of our children at the hands of parents . . . by a family member or a sibling. Have we become so mechanized that maternal and paternal instincts are extinct? Has brotherly love become a thing of the past?

We so often hear of a child gone missing, of an infant being found in a trash-dumpster or thrown into a body of water, and off overpasses. So often we read of a missing child believed deceased and buried in an unmarked grave somewhere unknown.

Sometimes I feel an overload and can’t center my thoughts or my prayers on just one missing child or just one missing adult. I can’t sit and write about just one bruised, battered body of an adult or child found murdered at the hands of those entrusted with their care. With the one who promised in marital vows to love, honor and obey (meaning to respect the others wishes) until death do us part - not until they cause the death.

Today, as I sit thinking of children, little Jaliek Rainwalker comes to mind - a child yet found but believed deceased by the many not the few, allegedly at the hands of a person supposedly to have loved and cared for him. I think of little Trenton Ducket - another precious child unfound but believed deceased. I think of Josef Smith- brutally treated like a a possession and killed by his parents in the name of ‘spare-the-rod' love. I think of Sean Paddock horribly abused by his adoptive mother and died due to her punishments. I think of Caylee Anthony believed killed at the hands of her mother. I think of Daisja Weaver, an infant, yet found but believed deceased, whose parent allegedly threw off a bridge into a body of water. I think of little Laycee Johnson a 13-month-old whom her babysitter brutally beat about the head so badly her abuser killer’s knuckle prints were allegedly visible when she reached the hospital. I think of Emma Lee Barker, 18 months, allegedly smothered at the hands of her mother and left in tall grass on the side of an interstate. I think of Alycia Mesiti, age 14, allegedly killed by her father. I think of Ebony Dorsey, age 14, sexually assaulted and murdered by her mother’s boyfriend.

I think of all the child victims’ at the hands of those entrusted with their care, those who should love and protect them - those whose names I only recognize when hearing them. And all those I do not know about, or whose names have vanished into my memory so deeply that I can’t recall their names. Sadly, I’ve read of so many murdered children that I can’t readily list them.

Is this our children their children’s future? Will what we have always thought of as ageless and undying - that natural and instinctive parental love - become obsolete?