Saturday, December 18, 2010

At Last A Verdict & Other Drama!

For those of you who haven't already heard the news the jury came back with a split vote.   That means a "hung jury".  That means that Crystal is assumed innocent of the charge of 1st Degree Arson only.  They found Crystal guilty of the lesser charges of: 3 counts of abuse of a minor, resisting arrest, and damage to property (the damage to Milton's car).  I'll have much to say about these verdicts coming up.  

You may have also heard that Jackie Wagstaff, a good friend and colleague of mine, is in the Durham County Jail for "Contempt".  

I think we all know who, for the most part reads Democracy Durham.  The few of you who have open minds and visit this blog to learn something and/or engage in reasonable conversation on issues about which reasonable people might disagree I welcome you and thank you for visiting and for your comments.  However, I think it is safe to say that the majority of you check out this blog so you can feed your salacious appetites for all things Crystal and as an outlet for unreasoned and bigoted commentary on the important issues this case raises.  These same readers are, if I may generalize, likely to also detest Jackie Wagstaff.  Maybe I'm wrong about that but I don't think so. 

I can almost hear the clucking, tsk tsking, and derisive laughter of those readers described above.  Not one to disappoint my audience I hereby serve you up more grist for your ridicule mill:

Jackie was whispering, apparently not softly enough, in court as she, myself, several others, and everybody in the courtroom including reporters, other lawyers, and the many observers that came and went had been doing during the entire trial. 

Jackie was about to be let off with a warning by Judge Jones when Deputy Scotty Hodges intervened to tell the judge that we (and by we I mean specifically those of us who were there to support Crystal) had been disruptive during the entire trial.  It is true that he had to shush us a few times (maybe more than a few) but he had also sushed nearly everyone in the audience at one point or another.  We "supporters" had been talking for several days about how Hodges was singling us out for sushing and other minor infractions that he didn't seem to notice that everyone was engaging in (phones ringing or buzzing too loud is a common problem).  In fact Jackie herself earlier that day had spoken to Sheriff Worth Hill and made arrangements to come see the Sheriff to discuss Deputy Hodges' behavior toward our "group".  

Everyone in the audience had an opinion about how the trial was going.  It was clear from his body language and his facial expression and some muttered comments that Deputy Hodges was not a fan of Crystal's and certainly would prefer that she be found guilty.   Besides that Hodges knows all of us from previous trials and from our portrayals in the media.  To say that Hodges is an ultra-conservative would be an understatement.  

At the very moment that Jackie was about to be given a warning and released (we knew this by the comments of the judge as he was addressing the issue and framing what he was about to say) at that moment Hodges, seeing an opportunity to throw his substantial weight around interjected his prejudices into the process.  

I call them his "prejudices" because he abused his position as an officer of the court to paint our little group in the worst terms possible.  He exaggerated how disruptive we were and never mentioned that our behavior was well in line with what was going on in general in the audience.  Had we been as disruptive as he claimed why were we not ejected or brought before the judge earlier?

I will concede that if the judge could hear a remark then it was, by definition, too loud.  But I also submit that Jackie would have been let off with a warning if not for two things:  There was prejudice on the part of Deputy Hodges against us and Crystal Mangum and Judge Jones' own prejudice in favor of the police and his inability to admit to himself and everyone else that the police (and Deputies) do in fact have prejudices themselves or that they can and do distort and shade the truth as well as tell outright lies. 

I will be addressing the issue of Police (and Deputy) abuse of power.  It has been on open display in this case and this "contempt" issue is just a microcosm of what happens everyday in this city.

I'm on my way down to bring Jackie some money and offer support.  Later I will be reflecting on many aspects of the trial.  Before I go, however, I want to commend Chanel 11 ABC for their short and surprisingly unbiased coverage of yesterday's events.  Also,  I would like to thank Jessie James DeConto of the News & Observer for his use of the phrase "....Cystal Mangum the accuser in the Duke Lacrosse Rape case.."  I have been encouraging the media not to describe Crystal as the "false accuser" or her accusations as having been false in anyway because it is inaccurate and untrue.  The accusations were never proven to be false because the case never went to trial. 

Steven Matherly


Gary Packwood said...

Why did the Deputy need to 'sush' nearly everyone in the audience at one point or another?

Isn't that reason enough to cause the trial to be re-scheduled again?

People are not supposed to be 'sushed' in a proper court of law?

It demonstrates that the rule of law is not followed by the people in that courtroom.

Steven Matherly said...

To Gary Packwood:

To be honest I was surprised that we were allowed to whisper as much as we were. I myself was sushing people I knew and some I didn't know.

As the judge said it is the People's courtroom and we have a right to be there. The deputies are in charge of keeping order.

It seems to me that as long as you can't be heard by anyone except the person you're whispering to then it is alright. Jackie simply didn't keep her voice down low enough because the judge said he could hear what she said.

To answer your question: it seems to be okay whisper among yourselves as long as the deputies allow it. There aren't any posted signs.

Steven Matherly