follow-up to june jury duty – five year sentence

On July 3rd, according to the online NJ courts public access the judge passed sentence on the defendant.  The jury that I was on,  out of the 8 counts, convicted the defendant of 2 counts.  One count of 2nd degree aggravated assault and one count of 2nd degree eluding.   Very difficult to read the online system but it looks like the defendant had 216 jail days as a result of not making bail and was sentenced to 5 years by the judge.  Don’t see anything about the jail time going towards time served or parole or probation…

I believe for what we learned that the defendant appeared to have done, I’m satisfied that justice was served.  I feel bad for the two women that didn’t want to convict the defendant of anything as I’m sure if they learn of the sentence they are going to be devastated.

I’ll probably check the records in another month to see if there are any updates.

 

signage in the plainsboro shopping plazas

Have signs at plazas gotten out of hand in Plainsboro?  Below you will find a few images of signs photographed on a recent weekday.  These signs aren’t up just for the day or just for the week or just for a sales period.  These signs are up 24 x 7.  Look how the signs have taken over the lovely bed of flowers in the plaza.  Are two twenty foot vertical banners in addition to nine or ten other signs in front of a store appropriate for the look our town is trying to maintain?

I understand in these challenging times that businesses need to attract customers but are a dozen Dunkin Donuts signs really necessary?  Should a business be able to erect a twenty foot vertical banner in front of their store for multiple years?  Do we really need to have multiple wire signs advertising the same topic within ten feet of each other?  Imagine if all the businesses in these plaza’s added their own signs…

There was a time when the only signage allowed was in a business establishment’s windows.  Let’s consider returning to those days and improve the attractiveness of our plaza’s and surrounding areas.

Dunkin Donuts at Plainsboro PlazaIMAG0163IMAG0164IMAG0165IMAG0166 

Note the upside down sign thrown behind the other standing signs.

Note the upside down sign thrown behind the other standing signs.

   

Signs at Princeton Meadows Shopping Plaza in Plainsboro

The twenty foot Vonage sign has been at this location for several years.

The twenty foot Vonage sign has been at this location for several years.

The signs below the Vonage sign are not for any business in the plaza and are repeated twenty feet away.

The signs below the Vonage sign are not for any business in the plaza and are repeated twenty feet away.

The signs are repeated twenty feet away below the Vonage sign.

The signs are repeated twenty feet away below the Vonage sign.

IMAG0173

The sign is in front of Bagel Street fifty feet away, not in front of the Wine Valley store.

The sign is in front of Bagel Street fifty feet away, not in front of the Wine Valley store.

The entrance to the plaza is a popular location to advertise events outside of town.  There are two signs in two locations less than ten feet apart.

The entrance to the plaza is a popular location to advertise events outside of town. There are two signs in two locations less than ten feet apart.

Tagged

jury duty

Recently I had the ‘pleasure’ of being selected for jury duty.  A couple of years ago I got the same invite but postponed due to work commitments.  This time I entered into the process with an initial enthusiasm.  The first day consisted of being packed into a large room with 400 people where we were spoken to by a court clerk,  watched a video describing the process in brief, and thanked and sworn in by a judge.

Thereafter a select group of 90 was called into the court room on one of the upper floors of the court house.  We were greeted by judge, given a sheet of paper with a calendar of expected dates would be needed, and then given the opportunity to speak at the side with the judge, defense, and prosecutor as  to why we couldn’t be a juror for the length of time in the calendar which happened to span over Memorial day.  Out of the 90 I’d estimate that close to 60 lined up, told there stories and were dismissed.  I’m sure most had legitimate excuses but I wonder how many said anything possible  to be excused.  From my observations over the course of my eight day stay, a large number of people are called because so many have reasons why they can’t serve.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard “but I thought it was just for one day”.

After the initial bulk of people in my court room were let go we proceeded to reviewing a questionnaire and being called to set one of fourteen jury box chairs.  As the people were called they were again asked to come to the side and whisper why they answered a question yes on the questionnaire.  Again many were dismissed. Finally the fourteen chairs were filled.  Next the judge asked a series of questions which appeared to provide the lawyers more information which allowed them to determine if they needed to exclude any jurors.  Any exclusions caused another round of reviewing the questionnaire and the verbal questions.   Soon there were only ten of us left that weren’t sitting in the jury box.  It looked like for sure that I wasn’t going to get a chance to be a juror.   But with a few more exclusions my name was finally called.  The lawyers all said they were satisfied and we took a break before opening statements.

The same day as jury selection completed the opening statements were also completed.  It was obvious from the opening statements that the prosecutor was cool, collected and professional and that the defense was ill-prepared, nervous, inexperienced, and a bit of an actor.  They both summarized the case as they would like you to perceive it.  In this criminal case the burden of proof is on the prosecution and the defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  The prosecution would be presenting first and the defense would follow.

After the opening statements there was four days of testimony from both sides.  Most of the testimony and evidence was interesting and easy to follow.  I and the rest of the jurors were attentive during the process so that we could understand the case.  As we were not allowed to take notes of any kind, we had to rely mostly on our memories of what we heard and saw in the court room for a our later deliberations.  Lawyers are technically challenged.  One couldn’t find a volume control on their computer in order to mute some video testimony.  Anther couldn’t see that their presentation on a projector was horribly out of focus for 4 days.

Finally the testimony concluded and closing statements were given.  Defense went first and Prosecution went second.  The inexperience of the defense was again apparent in some of the theatrics on display.  Thankfully the closing statements concluded and were were verbally read the charges.  Up to this point the process of jury duty had been interesting and I was looking forward to reaching a fair verdict on the charges.

First half day of deliberations was a disaster. To many people talking at once, cross conversations, and nothing being accomplished. Thankfully on the next day we all agreed to a single person talking with everyone raising hands.  We went around the table and talked  about each charge.  We voted openly with people raising hands. Unfortunately it became quickly apparent that a few jurors felt strongly that no charges should be applied.  On juror went so far to say on several occasions that the defendant had already been in jail for six months (couldn’t make bail?) and we should be punishing him with any more time.  She simply wouldn’t listen to reason that it was not our job to worry how much time the person would get but be fair and focus on the charges.  Another juror kept focusing on a single word in the charges as to why she didn’t want to convict of any charges.  There was a willingness to believe any testimony by the defendant and dismiss every piece of evidence and all the testimony from the prosecution.

After a total of two and a half days, with even viewing and hearing some testimony a second time it looked for sure that the jury would be deadlocked.  So how did we finally reach a conclusion?  Wiggle room.  More than on juror would say “I may have some wiggle room on this charge if we vote this way on another charge”  This was out and out vote trading. I feel horrible that was the only way we could conclude the process.  One of the two hold outs finally said I’ll vote which ever way you want cause I don’t want you all to gang up on me.

We ended up with a total of two convictions out of the fourteen charges.  While it may be true that the prosecution had more charges listed than necessary but I felt strongly that on at least one charge we did not find guilty and should have.  We presented our charges to the court room where there was absolutely no readable reaction from either the prosecution or the defense.  We went back to the deliberation room for a few minutes and the judge came and and thanked us for our service, answered a couple of questions and we were dismissed.  We quickly left the building and with barely a goodbye went our separate ways as quickly as possible.

Now I’m left with concern that I didn’t convict on more charges.  So every day for the next six weeks because that’s what the judge said it would take for sentencing, I’m daily checking the Middlesex courts convictions page for information on the defendant as to what sentencing was given.  If there is one thing that I wish the court system would improve it would be letting jurors know the results of their actions.  I’m sure I’m not the only juror who is torn with thoughts as to if they did the right thing.  I’m especially sure that the two jurors that didn’t want to convict the defendant of any crime are suffering the most right now.

Wish more would try to serve instead of being so proud of some of the excuses they’ve used to get out of jury duty.  And I wish more business could be considerate of people who serve and could somehow support the system better.

Yes, I’ll participate in jury duty again in a heart beat.  Focusing on testimony over many days without any note taking and recalling that information to make decisions is an interesting challenge.

Rossen Reports: Webcam hackers can spy on you in secret – TODAY News

Rossen Reports: Webcam hackers can spy on you in secret – TODAY News.

IDIOT NETWORK MORNING SHOW SCARES MILLIONS OF VIEWERS INTO TAPING OVER THEIR WEBCAMS

What a stupid report. Solutions are not to click on anything, turn off your computer and tape over your camera. Taping over your camera and turning off your computer doesn’t make the problem go away.

No mention that if you friend makes a mistake there are viruses that read your e-mail contact list and send out more virus invitations with your friend’s name on them.

NOT a word about security software. We have Comcast which provides free Norton Security that is constantly updating.

Nothing is perfect but not mentioning security software does a disservice to everyone.

Now I gotta take the tape off my laptop camera when I get home.

No one elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

No one elected to Baseball Hall of Fame; Craig Biggio leading vote-getter | MLB.com: News.

The Baseball Writer’s Association of America got it right.  Hopefully this will send a message to the kids out there to do the right thing and work hard and don’t take any short-cuts.

a local letter to the editor against holding the New Jersey Gay Straight Alliance Forum in the public high school

The below was published in local papers of the West Windsor Plainsboro school district.

The letter caused such a storm that the wwpinfo site took down their electronic link due to a flood of comments entered against the letter.

Our local friends on Facebook who read the paper version of the letter all decried the sentiments expressed in the letter but all did agree that the authors had a right to their opinion.

I wrote to the editor of wwpinfo and he indicated that he will be publishing a follow-up in the next release Jan 18th, explaining the rationale  for running the letter.

My take?

The authors of the letter have the right to express their opinions.  We all reading the letter have the right to express our opinions in support or to refute the opinion.

The authors appear to be contending that a meeting of the Gay Straight Alliance held on a Saturday has somehow had an effect on the New Jersey Monthly’s 2012 school ratings.

A quick look at the methodology doesn’t seem to back that claim: http://njmonthly.com/articles/towns_and_schools/2012-top-high-schools-methodology.html

The authors make the claim homosexual men live on average 20 years less than heterosexual men.

From every source I could find on Google this seems to be based on flawed research and there is no evidence to support the statement.

The authors further described that topics inimical to people of various orthodox faiths not be espoused using our hard-earned tax dollars.

This argument is flawed in that the authors believe that they should be able to decide what topics should and should not be on display in the school building because they pay taxes.  Because they believe they are somehow in the majority with their beliefs on homosexuality.  Can you imagine if the selfsame argument was made against holding African American club attendance in the school?

In the end the community has been confronted with a letter of opinion that appears to be in the minority.  I believe our best response would be a measured well written discussion without inserting hate speech in retaliation.

===============================Articles================================

http://www.wwpinfo.com/

GSA Meetings Have No Place in WW-P
 

Recently the Gay Straight Alliance meeting was held at High School South. It is a prime example of one of the major reasons that High School South has seen such a precipitous decline in its annual rankings (as shown in New Jersey Monthly’s 2012 ratings). This, while our already high property taxes continue to climb.

First we will stipulate, as all decent people should, that any form of bullying for any reason is always to be condemned. However, for the lavishly paid Superintendent Victoria Kniewel and her lackey, Principal Dennis Lepold, to hold and extol the virtues of this event is the height of supercilious social engineering. It is also in contravention to the religious and moral teachings of many orthodox faith traditions in this town.

When incontrovertible evidence has demonstrated that homosexual men live on average 20 years less than heterosexual men, one wonders why Kniewel and Lepold would be so supportive of the recruitment of children into a demonstrably dangerous lifestyle choice. As practicing Roman Catholics we are not asking that our religious/moral beliefs be taught in the schools — only that topics inimical to people of various orthodox faiths not be espoused using our hard-earned tax dollars.

In light of the failure of Kniewel and Lepold to keep High School South in the state’s top rankings, they should both seriously consider resigning their posts. We will not hold our breath for that, but in any case all concerned citizens who care about traditional values and the squandering of our tax money should barrage them with phone calls and E-mails to protest their lack of respect and antipathy toward our values.

Paul and Mediatrix Milazzo

http://cj.sunne.ws/files/2012/12/WestWindsor_1219.pdf

http://cj.sunne.ws/files/2012/12/WestWindsor_1128.pdf – contains the article on the GSA meeting.

Writer: Kniewel, Lepold squander tax dollars
Your front page article in the Nov. 28 to Dec. 4 issue on the Gay Straight Alliance meeting held at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South is symptomatic of one of the primary reasons that West Windsor Plainsboro High School South has seen such a precipitous decline in its annual rankings (as shown in New Jersey Monthly magazine’s 2012 ratings.) This, we might add, while our already high property taxes continue to march inexorably higher. 

First we will stipulate, as all decent people should, that any form of bullying for any reason is always to be condemned. However, for the very lavishly paid Superintendent of Schools Victoria Kniewel and her lackey Principal Dennis Lepold to hold and extol the virtues of this event is the height of supercilious social engineering.  It is also in contravention to the religious and moral teachings of many people of various orthodox faith traditions in this town. When incontrovertible evidence has also demonstrated that homosexual men live, on average, 20 years less than heterosexual men, one wonders why Kniewel and Lepold would be so supportive of the recruitment of children in to a demonstrably dangerous lifestyle choice. As practicing Roman Catholic Christians we are not asking that our religious/moral beliefs be taught in the schools – but only that topics inimical to all people of orthodox faith traditions of various kinds not be espoused using our hard-earned tax dollars.  In light of the failure of Kniewel and Lepold to keep West Windsor-Plainsboro High School in the state’s top rankings they should both seriously consider resigning their posts.  We will not hold our breath for that but in any case all  concerned citizens of this town who care about traditional values and the squandering of our tax money should barrage the two aforementioned “educators” with phone calls and emails to protest their lack of respect and antipathy toward our values.

Paul and Mediatrix Milazzo

Tagged

christie

“It is why the American people hate Congress,” Christie said, adding, “Unlike people in Congress, we have actual responsibilities.”

via First Read.

The other night my wife Maureen remarked after Christie’s speech that she wondered if quotes like the above will damage his chances at running for a higher office.

I got a feeling that Christie cares about doing the job he has now with every fiber of his being and he doesn’t let his possible future get in the way of that goal.  If so that’s an admirable quality that more politicians should emulate.  Work to do the right thing now and spend less time planning to secure your future.

Christie’s shouting for the money now because now is when the assistance is needed.  I’m sure he’s aware of the pork that’s been packed in the bill but I’d imagine that he and others know that sometimes you have to look the other way instead of drawing an absolute hard line in every single confrontation.

Christie has many admirable qualities and I’d look forward to an opportunity to consider voting for him in the future in any office.

Tagged ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 213 other followers