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The [Tuesday] Papers

Here's something new we've learned from the now-released transcripts of closed sessions in Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer's chambers down the stretch of the George Ryan trial: Pallmeyer screwed up. She should have kicked juror foreperson Sonja Chambers off the panel, even if that resulted in the mistrial that hardly anyone wanted to see. And for a reason that had nothing to do with her failure to disclose previous entanglements with the courts in a messy divorce and a civil lawsuit involving a furniture company, though that didn't speak well of her either.

No, it was enough to boot Chambers because of her apparent conversations during the trial with Dennis the Coffee Guy, the one who called WLS-AM radio one day and said he had been talking to a juror about the case.

In closed sessions before Pallmeyer and lawyers from both sides of the case, Chambers denied discussing the trial with Dennis the Coffee Guy, whose full name is Dennis McLaughlin. (McLaughlin runs a coffee stand at the Lisle Metra train station that Chambers frequents.)

After reading the now-released transcripts of those sessions, excerpted at Change of Subject by Eric Zorn, it's almost impossible to believe Chambers over McLaughlin.

Yet, that's just what Pallmeyer did.

Read the excerpts for yourself and see Chambers, the acknowledged Court TV fan, bob-and-weave. Watch her story change to meet every challenge posed by Pallmeyer. Tell me if you too find Dan Webb's take (and Ed Genson's take) on Chambers persuasive on the facts of what Chambers has told the court, while finding prosecutor Patrick Collins's defense of Chambers and attack of McLaughlin full of fact-free rhetoric.

I find so many things disingenuous and illogical in Chambers's explanations that they are too numerous to list here. Again, see for yourself. The only question remaining will be why the newspaper reports in the aftermath of the release of these transcripts have been so wishy-washy.

Lying Jurors: The idea that prospective jurors generally tell the truth answering questions in consideration of their service is a myth, according to a 2006 paper by the DecisionQuest trial consulting firm. "[J]urors have multiple agendas during voir dire. They may want to serve as jurors and thus may try to put on a good face, or they may want to get out of jury service and thus try to create excuses or give answers that will eliminate the possibility. But many studies . . . suggest there are many other factors involved in why jurors may not tell the truth, or may not even know they are not telling the truth."

Those reasons include feeling one's privacy is being invaded and feeling embarrassed by behavior deemed "socially undesirable."

Surprisingly, prospective jurors will lie even more to judges conducting voir dire than to lawyers.

Stealth Jurors: Are they infiltrating high-profile trials? Molly McDonough reports in the ABA Journal.

Worst State Ever: The Daily Herald's John Patterson asks why Illinois is so corrupt. Uberpundit Paul Green says it's the price we pay for a city like Chicago, built by high-risk speculators rather than sober city planners.

Sun-Times Buyouts
The news out of the Chicago Sun-Times regarding buyouts isn't earth-shattering, but a few familiar names will indeed be leaving the paper over the next few months.

The biggest name is longtime Books Editor Henry Kisor. The competition to replace Kisor is fierce, sources say, and why wouldn't it be? The Chicago Tribune's book review, once merely lumbering, now manages to be both lumbering and yet slight in its tiny new size that only serves to make itself more insignificant.

Kisor's review wasn't an intellectual giant, but it was almost always lively and timely, especially given the usual Sun-Times budgetary constraints I imagine he labored under.

Veteran sports columnist Ron Rapoport is also leaving, and will be missed.

Here's the full list as described in a message to the staff from editor-in-chief John Barron. I have added the jobs each held in parentheses.

"The following members of our staff have applied for . . . and been accepted by . . . the company's Voluntary Separation Program:

Departing May 5:

Bob Black (photographer)
Mary Cameron-Frey (society/gardening columnist)
Joe Goddard (sports)
Roy Moody (page designer)
Ron Rapoport (sports)

May 19:

Norm Schaeffer (page designer)

June 2:

Henry Kisor (Books editor)

June 16:

Wynne Delacoma (classical music critic)

Sept. 8:

Gary Wisby (reporter)

Sources say seven others asked for buyouts and were denied, including sports columnist Carol Slezak. Slezak did not return an e-mail asking for confirmation. Sources say Slezak may leave anyway.

Rush Job
Illinois congressman Bobby Rush is a co-sponsor of the "Communications Opportunity and Enhancement Act of 2006," which shouldn't necessarily interest you until you learn that Rush is the only Democrat to sign on to the bill.

Curious?

Now consider that the bill is a piece of telecommunications legislation backed in part by phone giant SBC (now AT&T.) And that Rush, of course, sits on the committee that will consider the bill.

Intrigued?

Now reflect on the $1 million in charitable donations SBC started paying out in 2001 to help fund the still-unbuilt "Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology."

Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times has the story.

Junior Class
When will the Sun-Times grow up? From pimping its White Sox "mini-baseball" promotion on the front page again to its photo out front of Mayor Richard M. Daley blowing out birthday candles; from its "featured letter" photo of veterans holding a Sun-Times sign to columns from another era and journastic maturity level by Michael Sneed and Stella Foster; from the unreasoned meandering editorials trying to find a point before our very eyes to the now-expanding presence of articles imported from even more mediocre sister Hollinger papers in the suburbs and exurbs, I can't get over the nagging feeling that Chicago deserves a second paper with consistently higher standards than the papers some high school and college students put out.

A Different Kind of Leg Room
The airline industry thinks of even more ways to make your flight miserable.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Safe to use in any position.



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Posted on April 25, 2006


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Corporate Spies Like Us.
SPORTS - Why Was This Game Even Scheduled?

BOOKS - Postdictatorship Argentina.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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