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Monday, August 15, 2011

Exactly What Happens to James Ray on Aug 16?

Tomorrow, Tuesday Aug 16, 2011, the cast of characters in the James Arthur Ray trial will re-assemble in the unusual courthouse in Camp Verde. Many, many people visiting this website are interested in the sentencing of motivational speaker Ray who was convicted a few weeks ago in three "sweat lodge" deaths.

I want to make it clear to everyone that sentencing (unless some unfiled paperwork has ruffled about or telephonic agreements between the parties that I don't know about) will NOT take place tomorrow. Instead, the two sets of lawyers will do battle over whether Ray had a fair trial.

Louis Li, heading the entourage from Beverly Hills, and his wild west counterpart, Tom Kelly, will be arguing that Ray deserves a new trial entirely and sentencing should be skipped. The basis for this argument is essentially that prosecutor Sheila Polk is essentially the second coming of Josef Stalin, authorizing sham investigations and conducting tribunals of doom. Ok, ok, the heat in the Southwest at this time of year makes a girl grumpy! More professionally speaking, they have a long, long laundry list of incidents they call "prosecutorial misconduct."

Forgive me if I think the list a tiny bit specious, for instance, they claim the prosecutor "failed to reveal" an expert's "report" they deemed "exculpatory." When the judge allowed them time to review the so-called report*, halting the trial, the defense returned to the proceedings without calling that expert to the stand or submitting any related evidence. Guess it wasn't so "exculpatory," after all.

But I digress. All the lawyers take it very, very seriously and the off-mic rantings of a grumpy girl reporter with sunburn should not be given any weight. Ouch, how did I let myself run out of sunscreen??!!

Sheila Polk will be arguing that prosecutorial "error" is not to be confused with "misconduct." In other words, anyone could make the mistake of thinking a pointless email is, um, pointless. It does not make you and your whole team villains.

The bottom line is tomorrow is NOT sentencing, it's arguing. Assuming the judge does not immediately grant the motion for a new trial, middle of next month they will all proceed to the "mitigation" phase of the trial. This is where Ray's attorney's present evidence of his basic good nature, baby pics, maybe testimony from someone like Mom or Dad, to convince the judge that James Arthur Ray is a good guy who should get nothing worse than probation.

The one thing is the lawyers and witnesses are NOT allowed to claim during this phase that he is innocent of the charges. If a witness starts saying that Ray is not guilty, the judge is supposed to cut them off and admonish them.

Assuming the motion for new trial is NEVER granted, Ray will move on to actual sentencing in September, after mitigation. Unlike in the recent Texas case of pedophile Warren Jeffs, the jury does not do the sentencing. Judge Warren Darrow alone, based on jury findings, the mitigation case and Arizona law, will decide whether Ray will stroll out on probation or be cuffed and led out to a big building with bars.

*It was 2 or 3 casual sentences, as I recall, in the middle of an email.

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