By James Zambroski
Jan. 13th, 2006 -- Day 5
Random thoughts from a somewhat fertile mind
Now that we've survived the ordeal of jury selection -- about 60 hours of intensive interviews and questioning over five days; about 70 people in all whittled down to a group of 15 -- this trial now begins in earnest. I'm home for a couple of days, but will leave you with a few end-of-the-week thoughts:
1. Boonville...the name says it all...out in the 'Boonies'...down by the 'boondocks.' I could probably write all kinds of stuff about Americana and the Heartland and the soul of small town justice, crap like that, but I guess I've seen enough of these rural county seats that at one time were IT, with their old time town squares and grand vintage courthouses, but relics now, standing next to a state-of-the-art, steel, glass and brick 'Judicial Center', surrounded by quaint little shops, many of which are empty, while Wal-Mart and the malls out on the interstate suck away all other life.
Curious thing, though, and maybe I'm just revealing some previously undiscovered snobbery on my part (forgive me Dad, I didn't know I had it in me; it's not your doing); this jury they've picked doesn't quite match the image of Boonville I've just described. This is a middle-aged group of eight men and four women; they are educated; many are professionals, hell, the group even includes an attorney, for heaven's sake, (although his occupation is in the world of business).
All right, now I'm feeling a little guilty about taking a shot at this county seat, when in fact, I've really not had time to check it out. Between all day in the courtroom and four news broadcasts I do on WAVE, reporting as the de facto correspondent for WHAS radio and writing this tome for you, I really haven't had a good look around.
The main tourist attraction I've noticed is the steady stream of coal trucks that pass through downtown Boonville, going right past our broadcast location. I don't mean just a few, now and then; these trucks are steady as the lub-dub of a heart beat, all day, every day and they've taken up honking at us as some kind of sport.
I don't know where they're going or where they've come from. Guess if I were a real reporter I might have found that out before spending a graph or two telling you about it.
2. David Camm continues wearing a wedding ring On his left ring finger. As far as I know, he's not re-married since he's been in jail. I asked Katherine "Kitty" Liell, his lead defense attorney about it; she seemed shocked that I would inquire: "That's attorney-client privilege; I can't tell you that."
She said that Camm does have a specific reason for wearing it, but that's about all I found out.
3. Open court is the best kind. If you've followed my stuff here and on TV this week, you know I've had a couple minor dust ups with Warrick Superior Court Judge Robert Aylsworth already. It's not his fault -- certainly not mine -- but isn't it time we get rid of the Indiana Supreme Court ruling that prohibits cameras in the courtroom?
Come on, this is the 21st century; what's anyone afraid of? What IS there to be afraid of?
Nothing, just openness; most states allow it already. In the Jefferson County courts, we have an arrangement. All four television stations take turns being the sole, pool camera inside the courtroom. We share the video, so it's not all that uncommon.
And just for good measure on this trial, the judge has ordered the attorneys not to speak about the case to reporters. Somehow, some way, let's find a way to make the press the bad guys here. But I'm certain it's nothing personal; I like Aylsworth, even though his face screws up like he's got a big stick shoved up his...nose...when I ask him a question.
And I think he might like me: We have been broadcasting our live shots on a corner across the street the judge's third floor office. By mid-week, I noticed that someone in the judge's office had placed a stained glass window depicting the Indiana University logo in between the blinds and the window glass, facing out at our location. The judge is a fan; go Hoosiers.
4. Reporters are people too. When there are breaks in proceedings, I like to remain in the courtroom so I can discretely watch the participants interact; principally, David Camm. We reporters, obviously, need to remain totally objective in doing our job -- I like to call it staying in the middle. But we are human beings, we do have feelings; we do have opinions. The point is, we can't let those feelings overwhelm our judgment, objectivity and final product.
Frankly, I'm having a hard time getting a handle on Camm. My head says one thing, my heart says another. Please, don't assume you know what I mean; I'll speak more about that when this thing's over, but I'm not convinced, yet, that there's anything real clear cut here.
I'd write more, but it's Saturday morning; I've got to get a haircut; go to the dry cleaners and my darling wife is patiently sitting by, waiting for a little attention (lunch at Lilly's?). I'm outta here, see ya next week on the tube or right back here on the web.
P.S. Since I'm out of the office for the next several weeks, I can't access my WAVE 3 email account. If you wanna reach me while I'm in Boonville, send email to: email@example.com. Later.