Adams Jury Foreperson: Danehy's Criticism Was Misdirected

I read Tom Danehy's column every week and did so with particular interest this week (Nov. 2). I served as the foreperson on the Hassan Adams jury and, as you might guess, I must take issue with your negative characterization.

Contrary to your description of the group as "not overly smart," the panel included business owners, a company president and several other accomplished community members who would not have gotten where they are without intelligence and the ability to reason at a high level.

My own opinion is that Hassan Adams very well may have been over the legal limit when he was pulled over. The jury did not find Mr. Adams innocent; we found him not guilty.

In this trial, we were given very specific instructions about how to use the information and evidence that were presented to us. The defense witness, Marc Stottman, presented a lot of information that was discounted by the group right off the bat. But there was also information presented that created doubt--reasonable doubt as defined by the very specific, legal instructions we were given.

What did the state do to refute what Mr. Stottman told us? Practically nothing, and here is where I think your complaint should lie: The prosecuting attorney did not present a witness of his own to call into question what Stottman said. He barely cross-examined Stottman. In the absence of something that would have removed the reasonable doubt that Stottman created, we had absolutely no choice but to reach a not guilty verdict.

You have my condolences on the deaths of your sister-in-law and her husband. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose someone to a drunk driver. But rather than libel a group of hard-working, honest individuals who were committed to following the letter of the law, I suggest you turn your attention to the lackadaisical way in which these cases are sometimes prosecuted. Thank you for reading my response.

Kirsten Larsen

Danehy's Math, Belittling of Jurors Was Questionable

I empathize for Danehy. The most significant thing written in his column about Hassan Adams was: "This won't bring back my sister-in-law and her husband." That is a major loss; I agree with him that people who drive drunk should go to jail, and people who repeatedly drive drunk should go to prison.

But Danehy's bias--no matter how understandable and even appropriate--should have come much higher in the column. There are two ways to talk about a test result potentially being "20 percent or 50 percent" off. He chose the least logical of the two. He started with where the 20 percent or 50 percent error would end up. The more correct way is to adjust the actual test result by the 20 percent or 50 percent margin of error. Done that way, any juror could have reasonable doubt, because the test might have been from as low as .062--below the legal limit--to .096, which is just above it.

I have tremendous respect for the quality of justice they bring to the legal system. I don't want justice left completely in the hands of judges and lawyers. Danehy's belittling of jurors is both untrue and unfair.

Michael J. Meehan

Math Does Make a Difference in DUI Trials

Two years ago, I was a juror in Tucson for a DUI case involving someone with no notoriety at all and a fairly mediocre attorney. However, he also managed to make the same mathematical error that Tom described in his piece (Nov. 2 and Nov. 9). The judge had informed the jurors that if we had questions during the trial, we could write them down and pass them up to him, and he would decide if they were relevant to the trial. I wrote a note explaining the mistake, and the judge asked the attorneys to review my question. Despite heated objections from the defense, the prosecutor was allowed to ask the witness my question, and he was forced to clarify--and the defendant was convicted.

I am not sure what this proves, except that it is always best to question what you are told.

Don Arkin

Danehy Showed the Value of an Individual

Thank you, Tom Danehy, for your thought-provoking opinion piece regarding the callous behavior of an individual after his having wrought catastrophic damage (Oct. 26).

I am especially appreciative of your having pointed out that Matthew Salls was not a person of particular notability, that he was a member of a fairly standard population--not an outlier on either tail of the human-being bell curve. He was everyman, and as a result of his untimely death and the indifference shown by his killer, every man is the less.

John Hogan

Thanks for Getting It Right on Proposition 204

I want to recognize the Tucson Weekly for getting it right, that Proposition 204 was not the first step toward turning us all into vegans ("Ballot Box Basics," Currents, Nov. 2), as well as for giving its endorsement. I organized the ballot campaign that in 1998 banned cockfighting, a proposition that the Weekly couldn't manage to make a call on either way. (No doubt the dark presence of Emil Franzi.) You've come a long way, baby!

The truth about 204 is that many animal advocates wouldn't help gather signatures, and some wouldn't even sign the petition, because of the concern that after it passed, people would get the false impression that their meat was raised humanely. Anyone who looked at the wording and saw how modest 204 was knows we weren't solving the whole problem. But then again, a lot of people don't read, and most of us believe what we want to believe.

While gathering signatures, we were repeatedly asked why we didn't include battery hens. In order to produce eggs cheaply and maximize profits, hens are stuffed into cages so tightly that not once can one hen stretch out even one wing. To prevent damage from the pecking that such a stressful life creates, much of their bills are cut off. We knew it would be a tough fight. We didn't know that our opposition would claim that 4-H Club members could be charged with a crime or that their dupes in the media would gladly repeat their nonsense. (KOLD Channel 13 aired a statement that if 204 passed, pregnant pigs would roll over and crush their piglets. How's that possible?) In other words, it was a political decision.

Jamie Massey
Pima County Coordinator, Arizonans for Humane Farms

Tucson Will Miss Simpson, Ryan

What a dark day Dec. 22 figures to be for Tucson sports journalism. The stepping aside of KVOA Channel 4's Dan Ryan and the Tucson Citizen's Corky Simpson is not good news for sports fans (Media Watch, Nov. 9).

I covered many of the same events they did when I was an Arizona Daily Star sports staffer. Corky and Dan went about their work with passion and professionalism. They were good guys to talk to and joke with, even though we were competitors. Corky was always the perfect gentleman, and Dan was the same in person as he was on air: bursting with likable energy. Best wishes to both.

Ron Somers

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