The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Category: Law and Disorder

Jury Duty…

This last week I had the honor of serving on a Jury.

I say honor and I mean it with all my heart.

Yes… I will also admit that there are parts of jury service that are boring beyond tears. The initial waiting for your panel to be called, then the process of selection where the various lawyers get to find new and exciting reasons that you do not belong on the jury. The silly questions that they ask you during this process that, many times, have nothing to do with the trial at hand.

I will take a moment and explain something to those of you that may not be aware of how jury service, or at least jury service in Kern County (California, USA) works. You see, we have this way of doing it called One day or One Trial.  Where you get your summons, come in and wait.  If through the course of the day you are not selected or called to a panel, you are released from service… you have met your obligation.  More often than not, however, you will be called.  Once that has been done, you will get to go through a selection process and placed on a jury panel, or you will be excused from that panel and sent back to the waiting area where you are placed back in the queue for another chance.  Again, if you are not selected by the end of that day, you are done… having completed your service.

Now…  I have been called many things for saying this, but I really enjoy jury service.  Not only do I see it as one of your, our, obligations as US citizens, but it is fun to see the system work and to actually take part in it as a piece of the machinery.  For that period of time, you are part of the legal system, making the system work.  It is not so much a sense of power or control, but a feeling of purpose.

Short of being a member of the US military or working in the civil service, I do not think that people get to experience anything that makes them part of the “system” the way jury service does.  Yes… I know… I probably sound a little like some demented zealot touting how great the system is.  I will not lie and say that it is perfect, but we are humans, therefore perfection is not even in the equation.

Since 1987 I have been on, counting this latest one, five juries.  Somehow, someway, I have been placed in the system soas to be chosen quite often.  Of those juries, I have been impressed with the judges and many times discovered that the attorneys often live up to their reputation.  But then again, I would have to think that in order for them to do the work they do, they would have to learn to be a little slick or silver-tongued in order to accomplish the things they do.  That being said, I will not condemn them for what they do…  just envy them the money they make for doing it.

While I cannot talk about the trial itself, I will say that the judge was probably the most amusing of all that I have seen.  His name is John Brownlee and to meet him and listen to him, you would immediately think that this was a person meant for the entertainment industry.  If Judge Brownlee happens to stumble upon this article, I hope that he understands that this is meant complementary.  He has the personality of a intelligent, off-duty comedian and a voice that should have been reserved for radio announcing.  His interaction with the jury led me to feel that he saw them as more important than the lawyers or even the defendants.  Something that I was not used to in my trial experience.

The trial lasted for about four days and was interesting.  There were no outbursts from anyone, no lawyers or defendants yelling, “You can’t handle the truth!”, no one threw chairs, punches or spitting… and no aging ex-football stars trying on gloves.  It was, over all, a boring trial.  In fact, Judge Brownlee started this little thing where he would look at the jury pit and give a thumbs up to us all… if we did not respond, he would have the bailiff shoot us with his taser… just kidding… I think he was doing this to make sure we were not falling asleep.

Now it is just a matter of waiting for the next one.  At the present rate, I should see my next summons sometime in August of 2010 or 2011.  To bad the court system does not issue “Frequent Juror Reward Cards”, I might actually have won something by now, but with the state budget the way it is, I would hate to see what the prizes would be.

As always… thanks for reading.

VC 23123… Three months in…

My subtitle for this one is:

…Or, How California’s lawmakers prove they have a sense of humor.

So… I will start my post with a question.  What difference have we seen with on the roads with the new law banning the use of cell phones, without hands free devices?

Personally, I have noticed little or no difference in the number of people that I see on the phone.  I have even seen people sitting at a stop light, talking on the phone while a cop sits not even fifteen feet away.

Just for giggles I went ahead and sent an email to the California Highway Patrol to ask them for statistics on the numbers of citation issued to people for using their cell phones will driving, versus the number issued to people after VC23123 and VC23124 went into effect.

To be honest, I was not expecting a reply at all, but I did actually get one.  One that told me to contact a different section of their agency… by phone… whuch I did.  Only to be put on hold for about twenty minutes before I was advise by another person that I needed to contact yet another number.  At which point I stopped.

I know I should have taken this a little further, fought the good fight, and stayed on the trail to get this information.  Unfortunately I am not like the Michael Moore’s of this world where I can go off entirely half-cocked on a mission of little importance for the sole task of making myself look good.  Well… nevermind that, there are not enough plastic surgeons in the world to make Him look good.  My opinion…

No… I stopped there primarily because I was doing this research while on my lunches, and since there is only so much time and I am not independantly wealthy… well, you see my point.  However, if a representative from the Highway Patrol happens to come across this site and this article, and does have the information that I am looking for, then I will gladly post it.

The point that I think I am trying to make, just like the one I tried to make in July, is that this law it pointless.  It is one of those “warm fuzzies” that the law makers like to put out there to make the people think that they care.

I do support the principle that the law stands for, do not get me wrong on that.  I think that the idea is a good one, but instead of creating a brand new law that actually duplicated what is already out there, why not just enforce the laws that are already on the books?  To me, that would be more impressive than making a new law that reenforces another.

Oh well…

“Who am I? What am I doing here?” – Admiral James Stockdale – 1992

The California Cell Phone Law (VC 23123)

In July 2008, California will roll out VC 23123. This is a law that will make it illegal to use a cell phone without a hands free kit, while driving.

Now… First off I would like to say GREAT!!! I am happy that they did this.

Personally I have no problem with this law, I think it is fine. If there is one thing that gets my ire up the most, it is driving behind, or anywhere near, someone who has mistaken their car or truck as a mobile phone booth. Trust me, I always seem to find the ones that feel that talking on the phone means that they need to drive stupid, slow or both.

I cannot tell you how many times I have almost been hit by some idiot with a cell phone planted in the side of their heads. To top it off, they get mad at you, when they almost hit you or if you honk at them.

My thoughts on this, though, is do we really think that this is going to change anything? I mean, there have been “Distracted Driver” laws on the books for some time now, and even local ordinances against cell phone use without a hands free device, for some time as well. But how often to you really ever hear of a person getting pulled over or ticketed for using their phone? I am not saying that it does not happen, I am just saying that I think it is the exception more than the rule.

Then the other question that I think of is directed towards the police themselves. Granted, no one, including cops, are busy all the time. I am sure that there are down times in their days. But how likely are police to really, seriously go after a person using a cell phone? Maybe if they are driving, and see a person that is going the same direction as they are, and they notice that they are on the phone, then maybe. But as far as going out of their way to go after people, or respond to calls reporting a person violating the law… I am not so sure.

The only way that I see that this law will have a bing impact, is in the fact that if there IS an accident that is as the direct result of a person using a cell phone without a headset or speakerphone, then the insurance companies and the authorities will then have more ammo to use against the driver of the vehicle.

I am not really that concerned with how the law will affect me or my wife directly. I will only answer my cell phone, if it rings while driving, if I have my headset on or my speakerphone kit turned on. Otherwise, if the call is important, they will leave a message. If they do not, then I guess it was not that important to begin with.

One item in this law that I do like, a lot, is the rule banning people under the age of 18 from using a phone AT ALL while driving a vehicle. Not even with a headset or a speakerphone. But once again, the idea that cops are really going to go out of their way to pursue these people, unless there is some other infraction being committed, is a little hard to ponder.

California Legal System

I write this as an opinion… I am in no way versed in the California legal system, and do not represent myself as an expert on anything legal… except that I like to take notes on legal paper, which is 8.5 by 14 inches. I know that with certainty.

I also cringe as I write this, as I have recently met up with a person that I fell out of touch with some years ago, who happens to be an attorney. I will not hold that against him, but if he reads this, I hope he will accept my point.

When did it happen? I missed it, and I think many of us did. Somewhere over the years the election system became a joke and minority rule took over.

I am referring, of course, to this habit that seems to have come up in California of the people voting a law into effect, only to have it shot down by the people that voted against it in the first place. Tell me… If the proposition was illegal or infringed on people’s rights that much, then how did it ever get to the ballot?

I would think that there are people out there whose job is to review these things before they ever see the light of day, to verify that they are not what others would call into question as being illegal or improper. Worse yet, there are attorneys that sit in wait for these minority special interest groups to show there faces, and then come crawling out of the woodwork to capitalize on them for their own interest. I say this because I cannot think that all of them actually believe what they are defending. I more so believe that they are probably defending themselves a nice retainer and a payment on a new house or boat.

It may not seem like it, but I really do not have a problem with lawyers. They are working for a paycheck. What I have a problem with is the fact that there are many of them that hold the appearance of manipulating the system to their own needs or desires. It is, in some cases as far I am concerned, as if they are showing up for a play, and putting on the best show they can. I already know that there are a few lawyers I have met that would agree with that assessment as well.

Many years ago, I heard a little joke. Lawyers should have a piece of their fingers clipped off for every case they lose. That way when you are looking for an attorney, all you have to do is look at their hands to see how good they are. If you meet one with no fingers left, get out… and run like hell if you meet one with no fingers or toes!

If you are a lawyer, please take no offense to this. I am venting. I know that if you look at California with an open mind, then you know that there is a certain amount of truth to what I say. But the question stands… what are we going to do about it?

When can a be myself at work and not worry about offending a person and getting sued or fired?

When can I tell a person I work with that she looks nice, without having to worry about sexual harassment?

Why can a person defending their home, shoot someone breaking into their home, and then be sued for it?

Why are certain inexcusable crimes even tried, if the evidence is overwhelming or there are enough witnesses to prove that a person did something? In cases like that, the person should just flat out be put in jail for a predetermined period of time… no trial… no jury… nothing.

The California Legal System can be summed up in the immortal word of Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood, from “Paint Your Wagon”:
“…Where am I going? I don’t know… When will I get there? I ain’t certain… all that I know is I am on my way.”

What is the problem?

WARNING… This article is fueled by anger… Please read with this in mind.

I am an American.

Our system is not perfect, and some of our politicians could be replaced by trained monkeys (or are already) but I love this country none-the-less.

As you may have notice through reading some of my other entries, my opinion of immigration is not a problem. I am, as I have said many times before, Pro-Legal Immigration, but all the recent hype and the “Walk-out” planned for today has me angry in ways that I just cannot put into words without severe editing.

How is it that people think that they have the right to sneak into a country, work “off the books” and in some cases not contribute to the country’s wellbeing? What makes this worse is that some of the supporters of these illegal immigrants are people that made it to the country legally… ones that worked to get into the country through the proper channels. I am truely mystified as to where their logic comes from.

Why is it that people in Mexico are complaining about us wanting to close our borders, and threatening to boycot American owned business’ in Mexico because we want to? And it seems that they are not even getting that right. Some of the business’ that they are boycotting are actually Mexican owned.

Personally, if I owned a business, and I had an employee Walk out for this joke of a protest, then I would be hppy to let that person go… as long as they took all their personal belonging with them… because they would have no job to come back to. I hope that employers take that step, because this should not be tolerated at all.

Now, to explain, I feel the same way about it if the situation was different. If this was a day of protest for any group, and people walked off their job, then they should still get the axe. Fire them, on the spot. Not because they are protesting, but because of what they are doing… it’s called Job Abandonment, and it is not only wrong, but it is unfair to the other employees that are not protesting and to the people to which your company provides a service.

Why do I feel this way? Because I am an American. I believe that as an American, you are willing to put the needs of the country above the needs of yourself. I believe that we are all part of a whole, not senveral million individual parts working for our own goal. I am willing to lay down my life to protect this country, and have volunteered to do so once already. I feel that any act that promotes illegal entry into this country is an act that will potentially support Terrorism.

So my question to you who enter this country illegally is this: What have you done for America lately?

In reality, all of us, as citizens, should keep in mind that we are not only acting for ourselves. We are truely part of a global community, and our actions are being watched. Not only by those outside the USA, but by those closer to home… our neighbors and our children. If we continue to live our lives for ourselves alone, then we truely are seeing the end of a great nation, and SHOULD just let the Mexicans, and anyone else, cross the border.

The illegal immigration is not just about the people that come into the country, either. It is also about what they do to get here. These people are a walking environmental disaster. In the process of crossing the border, they are leaving tons of garbage at various points along the border. Please visit the Desert Invasion web site to see pictures and video of this problem… my question after seeing this was Where are all the crybaby environmentalists? and why are they not also getting their backs up about this. These illegals are trashing National Parks and public lands, not to mention the private land on the borders that they are trashing.

So, in closing, not only is illegal immigration becoming a political and economic issue, it is also an ecologic issue.

This saddens me and makes me angry. No one should stand by and LET this happen and still consider themselves proud to be an American. The people who stand by and let this happen without trying to do something are no better than the people helping the illegals into the country. Yes… INACTION is wrong, this is not “Someone else’s problem.” In addition, the people on the borders that are assisting the illegals cross the border should also be rounded up and sent down to Mexico.

The US Border Patrol cannot do it alone, so I encourage you to help. You can start by contacting the Minuteman Project… they can show you what you can do to help.

Thanks for reading this, and I apologize for and grammar or spelling errors.

Where does it End?

OK… To start this off, I am Pro-Immigration… LEGAL Immigration.

I am listening to the debates over the various proposals regarding the immigration laws, and I am just in awe. In awe of two things… The stupidity of the people arguing against it and in awe of the lack of backbone that the government is showing to defend the borders.

One of the arguments I heard today on NRP radio was that of a young lady that ditched school to go out and protest. Her enlightening statement was that she did not want her parents and her to be deported. She is a perfect example of why you should STAY in school, because had she spent some time with a teacher or picked up a book to study the legal information regarding immigrants, she would know that IF she was born in the US, then SHE has nothing to worry about. She goes on to state that her parents wanted her to have a better life… well then why did her parents break the law to do so. My parents wanted me to have a better life than they had, so if they rob a bank or another person to do so, does that make what they did right?

The answer is NO! Entering the United States (and many other countries) to live or stay for an extended period, without proper documentation (think Visas) is illegal. Why is that so hard to accept? If what they are doing was legal, then why are they crossing the borders through the rivers, deserts, and in the back of trucks? If they feel they have the RIGHT to just come across and start living here, then why not just cross the boarders at the checkpoints and highways?

Now… the other think that sticks in my craw. Prop 187 was passed with flying colors, pretty much a landslide victory. Then the legal idiots got a hold of it and beat it down. This tells me that illegal aliens have more rights in California than do I. How is this right? These are people that do not even have the right to VOTE in this country, why can a person who comes to this country illegally, does not (in MOST cases) pay taxes and has no LEGAL right to be here, have the right to override my vote? There is no doubt that they do work hard, I will not even TRY and argue that fact. Illegals do work that I honestly would not do willingly… though I have done a lot of manual labor, it is not my first choice.

This whole thing leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth regarding several things, but the main one is our Government’s stance on this whole thing. There should be no question about what needs to be done. The borders need to be shut… period. This is especially true since we are presently in a conflict with a foreign power. We cannot stand around with this “We want to be fair to everyone” attitude and allow people to just wander in. We need a lot of people on the border… if someone tries to cross, fire a warning shot, if they keep coming, fire a shot into their head. If their family sues us, there should be NO grounds and it should not even make it to court. They had no legal right to cross the border without going through the proper channels.

Those of you who happen upon this are probably going to argue with me, and condemn me for my opinion, but you know… that is the beautiful part about being an American… I can have my opinion and you can have yours… and as long as you do not break the law to express yours.

Now… If you want to know my opinions on foreign Labor, I encouraged you to read my article titled An alternative to Illegal Immigration“, because I have no intention of rewriting it here.

If there is any sign of common sense left in this country, then the bill put forth by the Senate Judiciary Committee will be the best bet. Let’s just hope that this does happen.

In closing, let me say this. There is nothing wrong with folks coming into the states and working. Most of these jobs are jobs that a majority of us would not want to do. I have worked a couple of seasons digging trenches in the California sun… and it is not fun, so I do have respect for the work they do. But it needs to be done legally, both to protect us as Americans and them as potential “Guest Workers.”

Thanks.

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