Letters

08-31-00

Juris Imprudence

Docket delays: Regarding the article titled "Docket Science" in the August 10 issue: While the writer, Amy Silverman, did a good job of explaining the problems at Maricopa County Superior Court, some additional comments are necessary to clarify the true nature and extent of the problems caused by Judge Colin Campbell's July 26, 2000, order. As one of the attorneys quoted in the article, and one whose clients have to suffer the result of the order, I would like to make some observations and clarifications.

First, the court's order was not announced publicly, nor was it distributed to the attorneys whose cases were likely to be immediately affected. Indeed, I found out about it secondhand from a judicial assistant and was only able to obtain a copy of the order from another reporter. The first time I actually saw the court order, the case against Intel had already been continued.

Second, my firm does both criminal and civil work. Therefore, we have no quarrel with the general concept that those whose freedom is at stake take precedence over those who can only be compensated for their injuries by money. Nevertheless, such a generalized statement is a gross oversimplification of the criminal and civil systems. In each system, there are cases that deserve a priority by constitutional provision, court rule or statute. Conversely, others clearly can wait for resolution. The problem with Judge Campbell's order, in addition to its unpublicized nature, was its failure to recognize the need for a case-by-case evaluation. The order ignores the need for the court to decide whether the criminal case in question truly needs to go forward or whether the hardships to the civil plaintiff are such that further delay is either unconstitutional or unconscionable. This not only applies to cases such as the one against Intel (in which the plaintiff's expert witness fees were forfeited) but would include elderly plaintiffs, those who are disabled, unemployed as a result of their injuries, in extreme medical need, or near death. Under Arizona law, if a seriously injured plaintiff dies before his case goes to court, the defendants are relieved of the obligation to pay for the pain and suffering the plaintiff experienced prior to his death, no matter how long or severe. This is one of the reasons that delay, delay, delay is a standard defense tactic where seriously ill or elderly plaintiffs are involved. The court's failure to recognize that its ruling inadvertently favors the defendants at the expense of the plaintiffs is something that should be considered. The current order, as written, appears not to recognize this fact.

Third, the order contains no provision for the parties to directly petition the presiding judge for relief. Rather, the order requires that the trial judge request that the civil case go forward. In the Intel case, the trial judge told us at approximately 5:30 p.m. that the trial would go forward and that we should have our witnesses ready to start on August 7. The next morning, we were informed that the trial court had been "overruled" and that we were assigned to case transfer and not to expect a trial for several months. Other cases have been given the same treatment.

Arizona's civil docket system has been recognized for years as being one of the most innovative and efficient in the country. Judges, lawyers and court administrators from around the United States have come here to see how such progressive innovations as the civil "fast track" docketing system, mandatory disclosure and other carefully thought-out reforms have enabled Maricopa County to maintain the most efficient, progressive court system serving any major metropolitan area today. That reputation is in danger, not only through the current court order, but because of the chronic underfunding and understaffing of the public defender's offices and the civil and criminal court systems. The lack of funding caused the crisis Judge Campbell sought to remedy with his order. While all attorneys understand the need to address the backlog of criminal cases, we also understand that a simple quick-fix solution is not only unlikely to redress the problem, but, in fact, will worsen it.

Jeff Bouma
Phoenix

Homo Erratic

Who, us? I'm tired of hearing the owners and spokespeople of A League of Our Own restaurant constantly deny that it is a lesbian establishment. In "Grill, Interrupted" (August 24), writer Amanda Scioscia observes: ". . . those who worry about the bottom line must figure out how to respect their lesbian clientele without scaring away straight people."

Maybe I can help. When confronted with rumors of being a lesbian establishment, how about if the owners said something like: "Yes, to date our most loyal customers are lesbians. The lesbian community has been extremely supportive because we go out of our way to make them feel valued. We are very grateful for their business and we're committed to making straight people feel just as comfortable. Our vision is to provide upscale dining and atmosphere where all people, regardless of sexual orientation, can come together and have a great time."

If you notice, nowhere in that paragraph does it swear that the place is not a lesbian bar. You can bet that if a majority of straight customers populated the place, there would be no way in hell that we would see a New Timesarticle in which the owners declare: This is so unfair. Ours is not a lesbian restaurant.

How about some acknowledgement to the lesbian community, which has gone out of its way, through word of mouth only, to promote this fledgling business?

But the quote by owner Mimi Rodriguez in the article says it all: "People were coming up to me and thanking me for creating this place. Then I realized that people were thanking me for creating a lesbian bar. I was speechless."

I don't think anyone was thanking her for creating a lesbian bar. I think they were thanking her for creating an alternative to the seedy little dives in bad neighborhoods where lesbians are usually welcomed. Maybe instead of being speechless, she should have said, "You're welcome," or maybe even, "Thank you for coming."

Denise DeSio
Phoenix

Whine List

Skip to my luau: I read the "Hawaiian Munch" article (Carey Sweet, August 17) and I was really upset. The author clearly stereotyped the Hawaiian people and "put down" the Hawaiian culture. The people from Hawaii are very proud of their culture, and to have someone come into (for the first time, even) an establishment such as Aloha Kitchen that we all visit regularly and start making comments, very rude comments, about our food and the way it's been prepared was very unprofessional, not to mention inconsiderate!

Not everyone may like the kind of food we eat, and we're not asking or telling you to eat it, but I think that before you start making ignorant remarks about somebody or something, you should really step back and think about what you're saying. If you don't have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself. I guess you were not taught that as a child. Tell me, if I was invited to your house for dinner, and I said, "Awgh! What's in this dish you made, it tastes like you were fermenting it in the oven, what kind of nut would do a thing like that?", how would that make you feel? I bet you would probably tell me to leave, right? I understand that it might be your job, but you shouldn't discourage other people from trying it. How do you know what other people like? In the end, you told people to try it out, but the damage was already done.

Bottom line, that nut who decided to cook our dinner underground for 14 hours was my relative, and those Hawaiians in their shorts, tank tops and flip-flops are all my friends, and I am very happy to consider them "my ohana!"

Chad Jumawan
Tempe

Try Ice: Your columnist Carey Sweet must have taken an overdose of ugly pills on the day she wrote the article about Ice ("Artificial Hip," August 24). I wonder how she would feel if anyone attacked her as viciously as she attacked Ice. I, along with other gray-haired Arizona residents, have eaten at Ice at least a dozen times and have found the food to be absolutely delicious, and the staff friendly and willing to accommodate. I do agree the music is loud and not particularly to my taste. So when I dine at Ice, I choose to eat on the second floor. No big deal! If Sweet ever tries to start a new venture with a concept unfamiliar to a locale, I sincerely hope her critics will offer constructive criticism rather than an all-out attack. I'm sure that when Sweet grows up and matures, she will find a far better method to criticize a new business trying to make it.

B.L. Smyth
Phoenix

Wood Winds

Joy of sax: While I thoroughly disagree with Dave McElfresh's criticism of historic recordings by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman ("Weird Impressions," August 17), that is not the reason I am writing. As a reviewer, McElfresh is, of course, entitled (required, actually) to express his honest opinion. However, he created the erroneous impression that the music under review was universally reviled at the time of its creation, and remains so to this day.

Whether the writer does so deliberately or out of ignorance, I cannot say, but the unfortunate result is that a reader who was uninformed about jazz would leave the review with the impression that McElfresh was simply stating the prevailing view on the music of these two artists, when it would be more accurate to describe his review as an uncomprehending and reactionary rant.

This is not to say that Coltrane and Coleman did not (and do not) raise controversy, but by now their place in the pantheon of a very small number of jazz greats is secure, and this is largely because of, not despite, the later music under consideration here.

An analogy would be if an art critic were to dismiss a Picasso retrospective as mere childish scribblings, while failing to address the fact that in the opinion of most others they are among the greatest works of art ever created.

The final insult is when McElfresh cynically chides the recordings for their low sales potential. One would hope that a writer for a major publication would realize that not all music is meant to compete with Britney Spears, or Kenny G, for that matter.

Faizal Ali
Toronto, Ontario

Artistic differences: I'm writing concerning the review of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. Especially the last paragraph: "Take a listen, shake the head in disbelief, and shelve the disc forever. One listener in a hundred will press up against the stereo speaker to hear Coltrane's and Coleman's appreciative nuances, spurts of growth and catastrophic fuck-ups in experiments that assembly-line jazz fans hear as only white noise."

I am so discouraged to hear someone discrediting these two artists. Someone who has never listened to jazz likely will never listen to Coltrane or Coleman ever because of this author's views. There is so much to both of them.

Sam Smiley
Fort Wayne, Indiana

Trane wreck: This thoughtless commentary was perhaps the most amazing thing I have read for a long time, and for this I congratulate Dave McElfresh! He obviously took the things he could read from the backs of albums and whatever he could pick up from the backward minds of conservative jazz fascists and created the most ill-informed, uneducated and generally lame article possible. It is one thing not to like what John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman have done musically, which I can understand, but this fellow obviously has no clue how some of us have been affected by these two great men and their music, and to ignore this is belittling and unbelievable.

Take a read, shake the head in disbelief, and shelve the review forever.

Ben Bracken
via Internet

Disservice to music: I find it difficult to fathom how, after all these years of struggle, artistic perseverance, and ultimate love and acceptance of this music, a narrow-minded individual like Dave McElfresh accepts the job of taking us back 40 years in time, to square one. John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman referred to as "two flavors of awful"? Archie Shepp and Pharaoh Sanders as "impostors"? The reissues in question as "side-show material"? The beauty, power and genuine art of this music, pioneered by visionaries like Coltrane and Coleman, has been receiving audience and critical acclaim like never before. Thousands of young and older fans of David S. Ware, William Parker and Ken Vandermark are ardently supporting this music and are equally excited about reexamining the music of the past masters like Coltrane, Coleman and Cecil Taylor (who luckily continues his path in this music). Please do this music, this art form, a favor. Find someone who knows and is sympathetic to the music that he reviews. McElfresh obviously doesn't get it. Nor has he ever. His rantings are a disservice to this music and art in general.

Pat Frisco
Oak Park, Michigan

Sheriff Shoo-In

Joke's on us: "There's a new sheriff in town!" Unfortunately, this will be a Maricopa County pipe dream after the elections are all over ("Posse Galore," Robert Nelson, August 24). Once again, the uneducated, sensationalism-loving, refuse-to-be-informed voters who put Sheriff CowPoke in office will refuse to get rid of him. It just says so much about the population of Maricopa County that accused "inmates" and their families are smarter and better informed about this media whore than the regular populace. Anyone remember the "sting" that was orchestrated to catch public enemy #1 (the impressionable 18-year-old Mr. Saville)? Heard anything from CowPoke's office about the obvious entrapment they pulled off? Of course not. You won't see Pimp Joe making love to the Fox 10 News camera about this little ditty. Out shutting down meth labs? Naa! Sheriff Joke is trading hand sweat with another loser (remember Skippy the millionaire?) at a comedy house in Tempe. Like it or not, the Sheriff Joke's on us, because we've allowed him to think we have open checkbooks to pay for his folly. Here's the saddest thing: All of the candidates pretty much agree about what needs to be done, but because they choose to attack each other instead of consolidating and uniting for the greater good, Sheriff Puke will again be crafting another acceptance speech. I know you're reading this, sheriff, because you are such a narcissist. I will continue to ridicule you and speak out about your transgressions to everyone I deal with. I will also put my vote to the best use I can, and vote AGAINST YOU, even if I have to write my dog's name in on the ballot!

Sean Franklin
Chandler

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