Trial And ErrorTo the Editor,
Regarding Vicki Hart's "Death of Innocence" (Tucson Weekly, October 26): I was appalled at the tone of this article on the trial of 13-year-old Elizabeth Clark. To compare this tragedy with the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, whether he was guilty or not, is the most heartless, callous and pathetic excuse for an attempt at journalism I have seen in a long time.
Elizabeth Clark is innocent. It was not some voodoo magic that made Judge James Carruth rule in her favor. There was no evidence that she had done anything to this baby, and numerous doctors testified to the fact that the fall witnessed by the little girl or even a combination of minor events which could have occurred up to 72 hours before the fall could have resulted in the baby's death. I don't know whether Hart was present at the trial to hear all the testimony, but I was, and I listened to both sides intently. How this prosecutor could continue with such viciousness was alarming, but continue she did.
It was evident from the testimony at the trial that the only reason this child was arrested was due to the sloppy work of the county investigators, who jumped to all kinds of conclusions based on comments by doctors from TMC, one of whom switched his opinion and joined the defense, and an academic from the University who admitted to having no training or experience in many areas necessary to arrive at this conclusion.
Hart also claimed Elizabeth was "hardly inconvenienced" by this event. Mind you, this is a little girl, 12 at the time, who had just moved here three weeks before the incident who suddenly found herself charged with murder and under house arrest, unable to go anywhere without an adult to accompany her.
In keeping with her strident approach, Hart portrays defense attorneys Dan Cooper and Jerry Bromeil as a couple of high-priced hacks who are only interested in throwing blame everywhere but where Hart must think it belongs. These men did an outstanding job of exposing the county's investigator and our own Marcia Clark wannabe, who took such obvious delight in prosecuting this child, for the unprincipled, sloppy creeps that they are. I have never witnessed such zeal and fervor as I did in their attempts, even in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, to pursue a conviction at all cost. In the end, of course they failed, but then they had to fail. Elizabeth Clark is innocent.
My heart goes out to the Tsakanikas family, for no one can bring little John back to life, but I hope Hart will someday realize another innocent was a victim in this tragic event as well. The lives of Elizabeth Clark and her family have been changed forever. They, as well as the Tsakanikases, need this community's love and support.
Keep On Truckin'To the Editor,
Regarding Jeff Smith's raving and consistently inaccurate column (as indeed most of his columns are based on marginally accurate facts, if they are based upon fact at all) about Mexican trucks and truckers entering U.S. highways under NAFTA ("Montezuma's Revenge," Tucson Weekly, October 19):
1) Mexican trucks and truckers have been hauling freight on U.S. highways for years without any notable problems--granted there will probably be a few more trucks entering the U.S. after December.
2) Mexican truckers and truck owners are fully aware of U.S. laws that apply to them and have a considerable fear of the U.S. legal system and are in general much more law-abiding than their U.S. counterparts. Furthermore, they must purchase U.S. insurance before they are allowed to exit Mexico.
3) Under ex-President Carlos Salinas of Mexico, many new highways were built with private funds and many formerly publicly owned roads were privatized (in general, they were robbed from the Mexican people, but that is another story entirely), and the owners of these highways have become painfully aware of just how fast highways wear out when traversed by overloaded trucks. With that realization, weigh stations and scales are being installed throughout Mexico. It is reasonable to assume that the paying of mordida (a bribe) will not excuse drivers and truck owners from being overweight, because the people with a great deal of money do not benefit from the mordida and it will cost them money, and they will do everything in their power to eliminate it.
4) With the recent changes in the Mexican tax code, Mexican truck owners have found it to their advantage to acquire new trucks, and the entire Mexican industry is rapidly upgrading its equipment.
From my personal experiences, I have found Mexican truckers are much more inclined to help stranded motorists than any U.S. truckers I have met, and are on the whole a courteous bunch.
Something Smith didn't note and obviously knows nothing about is that the U.S. trucking industry is rapidly changing and becoming safer, though many of the changes are very sinister. A Global Tracking Device (GTD) installed in most new trucks may soon be required by law for all over-the-road trucks. A GTD constantly emits a signal that is picked up by strategically placed satellites. This signal gives the location of any truck within 100 yards at any time. The trucks are tracked by computer, and this prevents a trucker from driving more hours than stipulated by law. It also ensures they drive within the speed limits, because if they get from point A to point B faster than one can legally drive, they will be cited.
The major problems with GTD is that it gives the government another instrument for invading the privacy of its citizens. Maybe Smith can enlighten the readers of the Tucson Weekly with his decidedly unprofound, poorly thought-out, knee-jerk reactions as to the true significance of what this means.
On second thought, I believe it's better that Smith sticks to subjects he knows something about, which is, demonstrably, damn little.
Wheels Of DoomTo the Editor,
I often disagree with Jeff Smith, but this time ("Montezuma's Revenge," Tucson Weekly, October 19), he is right on the money.
The issue of unsafe Mexican trucks on U.S. highways may be even worse than Jeff imagines. I would suppose he wrote this piece under the impression that, at least in theory, Mexican trucks would be required to comply with U.S. standards. Throughout the NAFTA debate those of us with doubts were continually assured the treaty would not compromise the health and safety of Americans. Those assurances, however, have turned out to be an empty promise. Mexican truckers will be exempt from the mandatory drug testing requirements which apply to all U.S. truckers as of January 1, 1996. NAFTA boosters can drop the pretense that Mexican truckers will be required to comply with U.S. standards because, to put it simply, they won't.
The drug testing issue is probably academic anyway. Without an adequate enforcement mechanism, the regulations that do apply are useless.
I would encourage everyone concerned with this issue to express those concerns to Congressman Jim Kolbe. As one of the biggest NAFTA boosters in Congress, he has a responsibility to protect the safety of his constituents.
--William C. Thornton
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