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.


  1. The contributors at www.williamayreswatch, thank you for your column today. Well done.

  2. Thank you, Trapellar. After reading more of this case and its long battle on your site, I can't decide what angers me more, that a Ms Balfour has been denied access to the court or that any (alleged) molestor/rapist can get off scott-free if guilty due to statute of limitation. Even when DNA exist to show proof. We know the limitations law exist but unfortunately we don't think about it. The laws really need to change on that! Rape is a violent crime and should be viewed the same as murder IMO. No statute of limitation should exist.

    I read Robin's post when a link was first posted on facebook and after giving it thought intended blogging and/or commenting under her post. Due to personal issues I had forgotten - until last evening when I, once again, discovered a link to it on my facebook wall.

    I wish more media would pick this trial up and comment on it daily but I don't expect that to happen. Media outlets will hang with Michael Jackson's death and all the gory details yet to come out about his life, cause of death and his family battles. Much like Anna Nicole when she died-

    And of course, sadly, TRUTV is too busy getting ready to move their trial coverage to Atlanta to concern themself with cameras in the courtroom of a live as it happens trial.