Trust in juries
EDITOR: People occasionally ask me for my prediction of the outcome of an ongoing criminal case. I invariably reply that, not having heard the evidence and arguments of counsel, I am unable to venture an opinion. But others seem to have no hesitation in doing so.
The death of Kate Steinle was a great tragedy, and my heart goes out to the Steinle family, and to others who knew her, for their immeasurable loss. But an assessment of blame, and the ensuing imposition of punishment, require going beyond our emotional reaction to the tragedy.
Not all homicides are punishable as murder or manslaughter. Neither Dennis Tobin (“Gross injustice,” Letters, Saturday) nor Donald Trump et al had the benefit of hearing the evidence, the arguments of opposing counsel and the judge’s instructions on the nuances of the applicable law. For any of them to imply they have greater knowledge and insight than the members of the jury, who did have that benefit, is the height of arrogance.
Juries are not perfect. They make mistakes sometimes. But I would rather entrust my life and liberty to a jury of my peers than to an ill-informed man on the street or to an ignorant megalomaniac.
EDITOR: Under cold and rainy skies, some 85 homeless people were evicted on Nov. 14 from camps in downtown Santa Rosa under threat of arrest (“Encampments cleared,” Nov. 18).
A Catholic Charities team offered shelter space to evictees. Activists from Homeless Action and the Community Action Coalition were also there to monitor police activity and offer assistance to residents. Dozens of granola bars, sandwiches, fruit and water were provided, and wet blankets and clothing were laundered and dried.
Twenty-one individuals relocated to the shelter, while some 40-50 people declined, citing the lack of privacy and safety. Hotel vouchers were not offered.
Some 11th hour handiwork by Dr. Carolyn Epple, a co-founder of Camp Michaela, resulted in county space in Roseland adjacent to that camp becoming available to evictees, and a new tent village sprang to life. Volunteered flatbed and U-Haul trucks provided transportation of people and belongings.
Yet Kelli Kuykendall, the city’s Housing and Community Development manager, said that activists were “disruptive and interfering with the outreach efforts.” Santa Rosa City Manager Sean McGlynn subsequently claimed that outreach efforts had been “challenged” by activists. But neither was ever on the scene. Activists and homeless individuals weren’t interviewed for the article.
Were activists obstructors or protectors? You can decide for yourself.
Heartless in San Francisco
EDITOR: I attended the Tony Bennett show at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts on Tuesday and was thoroughly disappointed — too much time wasted in repeatedly introducing his band members, not one Christmas song, overly priced tickets (for what we got) and, for conclusion, he didn’t even sing his signature song, “I Left my Heart in San Francisco,” while performing here in the Bay Area.
It may be time for him to put the microphone down and just continue his passion for painting.
Gaza and terror