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Thursday, August 18, 2011

James Arthur Ray Oral Arguments

Not happy to report that as I was setting out to leave for the James Ray sweat lodge motion-for-a-new-trial oral arguments, I found I had a dead battery. Since the trial is out in the middle of the grand Arizona scenery....
View from the Yavapai County Courthouse steps
For more of the unusual setting, please browse around this site.

...and not around the corner from me in urban Phoenix, the dead battery situation killed all my plans. Very sorry, all. I know so many come to this page looking for inside the courtroom reportage. Believe me, I was frustrated at missing it.

I can tell you that the lawyers argued all day--court records show from 11 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. And that when they were done, Judge Warren Darrow took the matter under advisement. That means he's gonna agonize about it, line up his ducks and get his ps & qs in order, and when he thinks he's come up with a decision that is unassailable, he will publish it.

He will be wrong. No decision is unassailable. Whoever loses, they will assail and assail and assail. If, ultimately, the defense prevails we will have another several month trial to go through with an entirely different jury. The state will tweak its case, based on the lessons of this one. But the defense, will they come up with an entirely new strategy? perhaps put Ray on the stand for the second bite at the apple? will it be possible to keep him off, since the defendant now knows he has virtually nothing to lose by at least trying his formidable force of personality on the jury?

Don't know how it's going to play out but in the meantime I can leave you with a little more of the "grand scenery" where the drama unfolds.

Montezuma's Castle near Camp Verde, Arizona (or is it???!)

Montezuma's Castle is one of the big attractions drawing tourists and anthropologists alike to the town of Camp Verde. It is an Anasazi ruin built into the side of a very tall but shallow grotto. Here the Anasazi people lived in a self-styled apartment building, using a series of ropes and ladders to climb into their homes. The ropes and ladders could all be retracted and there's no way in to this several storey high structure without these devices. There is water near the castle and even remnants of a system of canals for farming. The Anasazi who lived here kept themselves fed and secure from invaders through their ingenious system.

The Spanish conquistadors who first made European record of it found it abandoned. They assumed that it had been a hideaway for the Aztec emperor Montezuma (aka Moctezuma) and built up legends about him escaping Cortez and living on the lam for, I believe, a century or two. A bit like el Dorado, that.

Anyway, the dwelling had nothing at all to do with Montezuma, it was an Anasazi structure, not Aztec, but the name stuck. Who were the Anasazi? Ah, now you have asked one of the most intriguing questions of American anthropology. They were a group of native people who long preceded the tribes you are familiar with--Apache, Navajo (Dine'), Hopi, Pima, Havasupai, Hohokam, etc. There is a great record of their being here...but a very mysterious vanishing. A vanishing that took place long before Europeans ever thought of sailing off where "dragons be."

No one knows what happened to them...or where they came from. But when you visit Montezuma's Castle, you have no trouble believing they were here and had a lot on their minds. The photo above I actually snapped of a replica that stands in the lobby of the Camp Verde Visitor's Center. The replica was built by high school students--in California! It was about to be thrown out after the school project was over, but Camp Verde officials rescued it when they heard. I think the kids did an amazing job! I hope you enjoy it. If you get inspired to visit these mystical ruins, tell'em Camille sent you!

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