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Hedgecock Saga

March 17, 1985

There is a terrifying and negative naivete mirrored in some of the public reaction to the Hedgecock saga . . . an eagerness, bordering on the fanaticism of a lynch mob, to believe the worst. This delight in the misfortune of others is not something to dismiss with a shake of the head and a "tsk-tsk."

For when that same negative extends into a trial process, rendering the jurors (minus one) impotent and open to subtle intimidation by an ambitious assistant district attorney, then we have the stuff of which Orwell's "1984" was made.

Sent to the courthouse one day on an errand, I had the opportunity to watch a few hours of those proceedings and what I saw has haunted me ever since . . . a jury of ordinary people being deluged by a preponderance of overwhelming exhibits . . . a jury who knew they had been chosen to convict and who acquiesced (minus one) . . . a jury who openly exhibited fear at having failed, and tried to call it "anger" and "frustration."

Mr. Huffman is a disturbing man to watch, with his constantly shifting gaze trying to identify everyone in the courtroom. His remarks to the jury were laden with innuendo that they had better not have the temerity to go against him.

I tend to agree that a change of venue might be best, to have a jury out of the range of retribution from the district attorney. However, I want to think there are 12 more Leon Crowders out there who can keep their personal integrity and objectivity. That probably is naive as well.

Good luck, Mr. Mayor. It may have never really been Camelot, but you make us believe it could happen here.


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