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July 15, 2014


Learning that instant gratification is not a right takes a while. Some people never do learn it.

It took me a day to get a decent idea about what was wrong and it must have been that it didn't come in a box since we usually do delivery. Drove me nuts because the kid happily waited for 20 minutes + and then threw a fit when it finally arrived.

the wanting is sometimes better than the having

I can't wait to buy DVDs (and books) but I am far slower in watching/reading than buying. The backlog has turned into a true storage problem.

Ugh, you are training an American consumer.

Instant gratification is the Second and a Half Amendment and shall be delivered by unthanked minions.

Here's a conversation from the other end of life, specifically my 86-year-old Alzheimers-stricken mother, a fine lady and wonderful mother when she was herself, who I've been visiting the past two weeks and helping to care for:

Mom: I think I have to pee.

Me: O.K., Mom, then let's take you to the bathroom. (grab the walker, start to help her up)

Mom: Why? What are doing to me?

Me: You'll feel much better once you've been to the bathroom, so I'm going to take you.

Mom: (a look of horror grips her face) I DON'T WANT TO!! NO!!

Rinse and repeat, in those exact words.

Like bathing a cat.

Whereas your kid is a consumer-in-training, my mother, in her state, is an American citizen of our time, complaining about the urination mandate and all other tyranny.

Spankings all around.

"A3YO" is a republican, yes?

That and human-cyborg relations.

@Yogi: "A3YO" is a republican, yes?

At that age, it's a matter of incomplete socialization.

For republicans, it's a matter of reflexive rejection of SOCIALISM!!1! in all of its insidious forms.

So yeah, kinda.

As I mentioned in Attempted Jury Duty Notes, I have US District Court jury duty this week. I went in on Monday and we all dodged a bullet, because this person pled guilty at the last minute. The jury pool didn't know why they were holding so many of us until the judge herself came in to dismiss us, just after noon -- which I've never seen happen before. She explained that the trial would have been of a mother who had used her minor child to put sexually explicit material on the internet, and that it would have been really upsetting for everyone involved.

After I figured out what case she was talking about, I realized why they'd told us we'd be getting a questionnaire before the voir dire: because the jury might have had to look at the video. So they had to figure they'd have to examine a *lot* of candidates to find 14 people who could stand even looking at the evidence, much less ones who could do that and promise to be objective.

I *might* have made that cut (unless they were tossing all parents of daughters), but I assume I'd have been tossed out for excessive expertise later, because I know how an IP address works.

Have any of you-all been involved in this kind of high-profile, upsetting case, either as lawyers or as potential jurors? How do you screen jurors for this sort of thing? *Can* you exclude all parents, or the parents of girls, for cause?

And that was the entirety of my jury duty for the week. I'll call in over the weekend to see if I have to go in next week.

Ick, DS.

A year ago I was the second alternate chosen (the very last member of the panel chosen, or iow, the least lucky person in the room) for a jury to decide a child molestation case which would feature, we were warned, some disturbing photos and testimony.

It did. Both were disturbing.

As an alternate, my participation stopped when the panel was sent to the Jury room. I and the other alternate were sent to the waiting room. Two days later, the panel decided they couldn't reach a verdict.

Learned a bunch about DNA, at least.

As to your questions, they allowed potential jurors who may have been victims themselves to *privately* share their reluctance with the judge and the attorneys (so while the rest of us weren't privvy to the details, we knew *that person* had been a victim of a heinous crime). A couple of folks stated the details publicly, right from their seats in the jury box.

Parents made it onto the panel, and grandparents, but a number of folks who voiced strong opinions about their inability to assume innocence -- due to their being parents of young children -- were excused.

Interestingly, potential jurors who had a strong background in the sciences -- engineers, a science teacher -- were asked to leave by the prosecutor. Which may have had something to do with the quality of the scientific evidence, or the prosecutor's perception that science types would give too much credence to the DNA.

Being an alternate juror has to be the worse thing that can happen to you on jury duty. You get to sit thru the whole trial, but then you get no input into the decision. That sitting around outside the jury room (the court I was in didn't even have a waiting room; just a chair outside the deliberation room) is really tedious.

It seems to me that a superior approach would be to empanel all of the jurors, and let all of them vote. But allow a valid verdict, even if 1 or 2 of them have to drop out. It would be a far better world for the poor guys who otherwise have to just sit around when the rubber hits the road.

I was rejected during voir dire for a similar case. Father, molestation of his daughter spanning years, production of child pornography. Horrible stuff. They laid out the charges to the whole jury, and also informed the jury there was substantial amounts of graphic video evidence that would be reviewed during the trial.

They had about 100 potential jurors fill out a questionnaire. I believe they called back about 20, or at least that's what they said they were going to do. I got rejected at the questionnaire stage and didn't have to go back.

They said the questionnaire was both to protect juror privacy (some of the questions were rough) and also increase efficiency (too many people to do the serial questioning in the court).

I was relieved at the time: the trial was estimated to take 3 months and I was running out of funding for my PhD. Would not have been ideal.

The eventual verdict was guilty, made front page locally.

Interestingly, potential jurors who had a strong background in the sciences -- engineers, a science teacher

Yeah, I made a mistake with that once, when I was hoping to get out of a drug case. I described my occupation as "postdoc". The prosecutor moved on. The next juror was a student (of biology) and was excused immediately.

I got to talk to the prosecutor afterwards (they wanted to know why the jury didn't vote to convict, so they sat down with jurors after the trial). I learned 'postdoc' wasn't a common phrase. Next time I'll describe myself as "scientist".

When Mia the Wonder Child, my grand-niece, was three, her father left the house to pick her up, but forgot his wallet. On the drive back home, they passed a pizza parlor, and Mia suggested they stop and get a pizza. Another pizza parlor came up and she repeated the suggestion. At the next one, she said (waving her arms): "Father, just get the fucking pizza."
When she runs for President, as she will some day, I'll be telling that story -- unless her campaign staff has me killed first.

One of the best things to do with 2-3 YOs is to teach them that when they finish their sippy cup, to slam it down and say "Hit me again, Barkeep!"

You do get nasty looks from some people, but it's worth it.

Doc S--a feature of pedophilia is continuing denial in the face of all evidence. I've defended more institutional defendants, employers of pedophiles, than I care to think about. Not that the institution was any more culpable than the parents who typically are groomed by the pedophile to gain parental trust and then abuse the child. When caught, they deny, deny, deny.

My inference from your situation is that the defendant ran it up to the last minute, proclaiming her innocence to the end, and then caved rather than face public exposure, i.e. a trial. The trial would have been gruesome. You *did* dodge a bullet. Even voir dire would have been painful.

They laid out the charges to the whole jury, and also informed the jury there was substantial amounts of graphic video evidence that would be reviewed during the trial.

I sometimes wonder why this sort of thing is necessary. I mean, if it's "the defendant had 2,000 graphic images on his laptop" does the jury need to view all 2,000, or even 200, or, really, any at all?

Similarly, does the jury really need to see graphic images of a murder scene for guilty/not guilty purposes (as opposed to say, sentencing, where the sentence may depend upon brutality)?

It just seems to be unnecessarily inflaming and since the only person the jury can hold responsible is the defendant, tends to bias. I suppose that is the case in any trial, but it seems particularly problematic in child abuse cases (or horrible murders).

My recollection from law school is that there was perhaps a SCOTUS case talking about "the prosecution should not be the emotional weight of its evidence" and/or something about how the prosecution needing to be allowed to tell a story (such that the defense can't stipulate to everything but some small but critical detail so that the jury wonders what all the fuss is about and doesn't take it seriously).

But routine viewing of graphic images seems unnecessary in many/most cases* - why inflict that on the jury?

*Obviously there may be some cases where it's necessary because of the defendant's approach.

Might there not also be cases where one of the questions is whether the images were, if fact, problematic? That is, the prosecution might feel that they were "graphic photos" which indicate there was a crime, but the jury might find them to be a non-problem.

It's the "community standards" issue -- how does the court determine what really are the community's current standards? It's a moving target, after all. Time was when the centerfold of Playboy (does Playboy even exist any more?) would have been serious pornography. Then there was a time when it was no big deal, to the point that they had to go further in an attempt to make it one. And today? Well, some of those images from the 1960 would be upsetting in deeply conservative areas, but get yawns in other areas.


I imagine the prosecution wants to use it to bias the jury, as you say. Perhaps they shouldn't, but our court system is rarely biased against the function of the prosecution.

But more than that, I'd imagine (IANAL) that the multiple videos or images are probably part of separate counts. It's not production of child pornography, it's 1 count for each image, or each etc. I know in my case the suspect had dozens of charges against him (it was years of abuse).

For the jury to convict on any given count, they should see evidence of that count. If the state wants to bring 50 counts of production, the state needs to produce and the jury needs to evaluate evidence of 50 counts.

Also, what wj said. The police could have 5 videos which to them are criminal, while to the jury only one is. If the prosecution only could show one, they would choose the most graphic and tell the jury the rest are just as bad.

Almost three years old

Pay attention during these challenging and joyful years -- before you know it, your toddler will be a teenager; and an eyeblink later will be moving out of the house.

Right mindfulness. Don't miss it because you were distracted.

I joined a startup when my kid was three, and missed most of the next year of his life. I chose ... unwisely.

wj - Might there not also be cases where one of the questions is whether the images were, if fact, problematic?

Of course, but I guess I was thinking that wouldn't be much of an issue in the setting of "this is going to be so horrible for the jury we're glad you didn't have to go through it."

I'm not so sure. After all, the prosecution is presumably bringing the case because they thought the evidence (at least potentially) convincing. But we still go thru a trial, to see if the jury sees it the same way.

And then there is this. I have known people who were utterly horrified upon seeing things that I considered barely distasteful. And that others would find unexceptional. Think of pictures of two men kissing -- there are still places where that would be considered utterly unacceptable, especailly if children might see it. But in big swathes of the country, people wouldn't have a problem with it. Now suppose that your prosecutor is one of the former . . . and doesn't believe that most people really disagree with him.

Sure, it may not be the likeliest scenario. But the reason we have trials is to separate out the unlikely from the pretty certain.

Ugh - I guess I was thinking that wouldn't be much of an issue in the setting of "this is going to be so horrible for the jury we're glad you didn't have to go through it."

'Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we have absolutely gruesome and compelling evidence of the guilt of the accused. So gruesome, it would be unfair to expose you to it. The prosecution rests.'

Ok, I'm exaggerating a little. But a jury is ultimately responsible for the determination of guilt. Which, to me, means they need to see the evidence, regardless how gruesome.

I guess I was thinking (a) the prosecution would always want to put on the evidence, but (b) the defense could stipulate that, yes, the videos depict illegal child abuse, but the defendant isn't guilty because ____, which doesn't require viewing the videos.

My understanding, however, is that even if the defense is willing to stipulate that the images in question depict horrifying and illegal abuse, the prosecution can still show them to the jury. That, to me, is prejudicial and shouldn't be allowed under those circumstances if the defense doesn't want it.


Ah, I see what you are saying.

I joined a startup when my kid was three, and missed most of the next year of his life. I chose ... unwisely.

On the other hand, making a living is appropriate. I vote for shorter working hours, and more jobs, for all people.

I vote for shorter working hours, and more jobs, for all people.

Seconded-with extreme prejudice*

*cf Paul Lefarge, The Right To Be Lazy".

oops...spelling error

Paul Lafargue

Thanks, bobbyp. I've started it, and will read further. For the purpose of discussion, however, let me offer "a monk's day" which has a lot of monk stuff going on, but basically a "work" day of 6ish hours. Sounds right to me.

Oops, here it is.


Saturday morning. Daddy's turn to sleep in a bit. 4 1/2 yr old daughter wanders in while my wife is dealing with the 14-month old. She promises her mom on the way in that she will let daddy sleep.

"Hi Daddy"
"Hi honey, daddy would like to sleep"
"Ok, Daddy."
"Daddy, the clock says Seven-Zero-One"
"Ok, sweet pea, that's nice. I'd like to sleep"
"Ok, Daddy."
"Daddy, the clock says Seven-Zero-Three"
"Honey, I thought you were going to let me sleep?"
"Oh, right, I forgot!"
"Daddy, the clock says Seven-Zero-Four. When are you getting up?"

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