Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sam Being Sam?

photo from Santa Fe New Mexican, January 1, 2006

Up to now I've avoided the whole former NM Treasurer Robert Vigil trial shindig. This is mostly due to my strong feeling that he is guilty and why are we bothering with a trial. Yes, I am in favor of the Constitution and its little tasty flavor nuggets of legal protections such as trial by jury. But's let's face it, the Vigil case has just screamed guilt with its video tapes of money changing hands, warehoused sports memorabilia and other unusual loot, and the long history of Treasurer corruption in the state.

In blunt, pop culture terms....I've been pretty Nancy Grace about the whole thing. You know, wearing revolting Stella Stevens-at-age 70 wigs and bitterly ranting to anyone who will, or won't, listen that "they're all guilty, ALL OF THEM, BURN THEM ALL!!! What is WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY?!?"

Then I/we read the Albuquerque Journal this morning (long boring ad or $$ req.) and find out that Vigil's...uh, daffy?....defense attorney Sam Bregman chooses not to call any defense witnesses and instead lambasts the State's case, saying it "failed to even come close to meeting the burden of showing Robert Vigil committed a crime". Bregman even went so far as to petition that the case and all 28 counts be thrown out before the jury even gets to tell us what they think.

So what is the average person with a Nancy Grace level of Vigil guilt certitude and a short attention span of trial details to think? My first thought is to recall that our "public" experience of reading about this trial is so vastly different than being at the trial every day, start to finish. Of course, being human, that doesn't stop us from having strong opinions about guilt/innocence, and many of us feel perfectly fine about lecturing everyone we can find on our profound views on the subject.

This has always bothered me.

I'm not slamming the media here. All I'm saying is that without a total immersion into a trial one cannot really have a handle on what's going on in the courtroom. Reporters have a very difficult job in highlighting trial details, but humans/jurors have a funny way of choosing to highlight some pretty strange things in their own mind. Perceptions are inherently subjective, too.

And speaking of perception, what the hell is Sam Bregman doing here? I don't know. In baseball circles there is a famous expression for Boston left fielder Manny Ramirez, a talented player with an equal talent for doing strange, eccentric things. When Ramirez does another eccentric thing, we say it's "Manny being Manny". Maybe this is just Sam being Sam. I don't know. Maybe Sam is just theatrical and/or wanted to keep Robert Vigil as far away from a witness stand as Constitutionally possible. Maybe the State's case really is that bad.

I don't know. What I do know is that if Vigil gets acquitted the national press will pick up the story far more than with a conviction. New Mexico will be pointed to as a place where political corruption not only thrives but is vindicated in the courts. The case will create its own writ-small famously fallen prosecutors, ala O.J.'s Marcia Clark & Chris Darden.

I'm not saying that's deserved. I'm just saying that is what will happen.

So whatever the reason Sam Bregman decided to call no defense witnesses to this trial, he did accomplish something. He got me and my Vigil-already-guilty short attention span mind to notice the trial, and even write a little blather about it. Maybe getting some more people to notice the trial and Sam Bregman is really all he really wanted to accomplish. Maybe a lot of things....

We don't know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're right again. Dammit. And not just cuz I agree with you generally all the time but that helps your case a lot.

Sam didn't call witnesses because he was afraid cross examination would open new worm can maybe. Who knows? Coco