The Aurora, Colorado Massacre And The Psychiatrist-Patient Privilege — An Update

Prosecutors responsible for the case against James Holmes — the man charged with the massacre at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado — have decided to drop their effort to see a notebook Holmes allegedly mailed to a psychiatrist.

If the prosecutors had pursued a forced disclosure of the notebook, the case would have tested the application of the psychiatrist-patient privilege.  Prosecutors decided to avoid the delay that would result from such a fight and worked out an arrangement with the defense team instead.  Under the agreement, the defense will be allowed to review the notebook under circumstances that will ensure no potential evidence will be destroyed.  Then, if Holmes’ defense team raises his mental health during the trial, prosecutors will be able to review the notebook.

It would have been interesting to see how the privilege issue was resolved in a contested setting, but prosecutors should be presumed to know their case — and often an agreement is the best way to advance the ball.  If prosecutors can make their case without the notebook, let’s move forward to a speedy trial, to learn what really happened in that Aurora, Colorado movie theater.

Advertisements

Running American Ads In Pakistan

Our State Department has made the curious decision to spend $70,000 to buy commercial time on seven Pakistani TV channels and run an ad featuring President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton discussing the infamous YouTube video that has been the subject of such controversy in the Muslim world.

The ad apparently is intended to quell the ongoing rioting in the Muslim world.  It begins with footage of President Obama describing America’s tradition of religious tolerance, followed by a statement by Secretary Clinton emphasizing that the United States government had nothing to do with producing the video.  Secretary Clinton adds that the U.S. government rejects the video’s “content and message.”

Some Republicans and conservatives have called the commercial an “apology ad.”  I’m not sure I’d call it that, but I still don’t understand the decision to air the commercial.  We don’t need to explain our system to Muslim fanatics, and it is nonsense to try to respond every time the Muslim world expresses outrage — particularly when it costs us $70,000 to do so.  Pakistan, after all, is only one of 20 nations where rioting has occurred.  Do we really think looting and rioting Muslims are going to change their behavior because President Obama and Secretary Clinton express our belief in religious tolerance and deny that the U.S. produced a cheap, homemade video?

Road Reading

When you’re traveling along on business, a good book is crucial.  The book will be your companion and entertainment at dinner, in airport gate areas, and on the plane itself.  If your book is great, it blunts the loneliness of life on the road.  If your book stinks, on the other hand, it makes your tedious time away from home seem immeasurably longer.

Lately I’ve been reading the Games of Thrones books by George R.R. Martin, and they are great road reads.  If you’ve watched the show, you know about the Game of Thrones world.  If you haven’t seen the show, envision a world of knights and kingdoms and dragons and magic where things haven’t changed for thousands of years.  The world is captivating and seems very real; the books are long and the length allows for subplots and back stories that the TV series can’t hope to match.  The books are full of surprises, and no character is safe from a sudden, unexpected demise.

I’m on book 3, called A Storm of Swords.  So far, all of the books have been real page-turners.  In fact, they might be too good — you want to stay up and keep reading late into the night.  When you’ve got a flight first thing in the morning, that’s not a good thing to do.

Hummers, Blockers, And Baggage Wranglers

Whenever you travel by plane, you’re inevitably going to be introduced to certain personality types that make air travel so . . . interesting.  Here are three that I experienced in my recent journeys:

The Hummer.  On one flight I sat next to a man who hummed constantly.  I’m sure he wasn’t aware he was doing it, and he probably also wasn’t aware that he couldn’t carry a tune in a sealed Tupperware container.  His dissonant humming — what song was it, for God’s sake? — quickly became as annoying as the buzzing of a persistent fly that ignores repeated swatting attempts.  I debated whether it would be polite to ask him, through gritted teeth, to please stop humming.  Fortunately, he fell asleep.  Never were snores so welcome!

Blockers.  Blockers are those distasteful folks who, as soon as the plane arrives at the gate, spring from their seats and consciously block the other side of the aisle as they remove their luggage from the overhead bins.  If you wait politely for them to move aside so you can get out and get your bags, some do — but more often these selfish turds will put their luggage down in the aisle and expand their blocking zone.  On one flight a female blocker had her roller bag extended behind her, blocking two rows, and was talking loudly on her cell phone to boot.  From the murderous looks of fellow passengers, I’m confident I was not the only person to conclude that the woman was a misanthropic, self-important jerk who, in any just world, would suffer an embarrassing, ego-puncturing pratfall as she exited the plane.

Baggage Wranglers.  Baggage wranglers waddle onto the plane overloaded with carry-on materials.  They blithely ignore the “two carry-on items” rule — the most unenforced rule in the history of the world — and thrash down the aisle, bags banging against headrests and roller bags jamming against seats.  If you are in an aisle seat, beware:  baggage wranglers are oblivious to your existence as they search for precious overhead space to store one of their 50 carry-on items.  My knees and shoulders were clouted repeatedly by over-stuffed gym bags, full-to-bursting plastic sacks, and laptop cases during the boarding process for my flights, without a single apology from the clods carrying them.

Most Americans seem to be decent, polite people.  Why do those qualities so often seem to be left behind when people travel?