Archive - Dec 6, 2005


Mexican Artist Deported For an Internet Art Project

Luis Hernandez is a Mexican artist who participated in a recent border art festival in San Diego and Tijuana called inSite. Last week when flying home from Colorado he was stopped in the airport, searched, and ended up being deported to Mexico and barred from returning for 5 years. A message from him with many details, including a dialog with an FBI agent, is on the blog of fellow artist Ricardo Domiguez.

Absolutely crazy. Make a video game about border tunnels, get deported? This cannot be allowed.

Earth Firsters Trial This Week in Tucson

Today I spent a big chunk of the afternoon at the Federal Courthouse here in Tucson, because Rod Coronado and Matt Crozier are on trial for interfering with a mountain lion hunt.

Today was the preliminary pre-trial hearing and jury selection. I was there for the jury selection and it was extremely interesting. only 6 of the 31 potential jurors had NOT heard about the incident in the media. This surprised the lawyers and the judge, and they ended up clearing all the jurors out of the room, and bringing one at a time back in and asking them where they had heard about it, what they remember hearing, what opinion if any did they form from the news, and whether they thought they could put that opinion aside and be objective in the trial. About 7 or 8 were excused, I think.

I've been called for jury duty a couple times but never for a criminal case, much less one this controversial. Still, all jury pools are amazing cross-sections of humanity, and this was no exception. Of course they tend to be skewed toward people that have been at the same address, and are registered to vote, I think. (isn't that the database they use? I'm not sure but I think so.)

The judge is kind of funny. Sort of a gentle, self-deprecating old fart who kept joking about how he was getting old and losing his hearing.

The whole thing was actually pretty entertaining, and I kept thinking it's no wonder so many court/lawyer based TV shows are and have been so popular. The legal and judicial system are how things get done in our society, and they're actually really interesting social systems, too. The whole thing is steeped in ritual, or one might say bureacracy, but think about it: the court system works because people are confident in its consistency and reliability. Though ruled mostly by old rich white men, it's general pretty uncorrupt compared to some nations, and people trust it and live (or sometimes die) by its results. Part of the confidence comes from things being utterly aboveboard and having the appearance of trustworthyness, impartiality, etc. So that's where those rituals come in. Like the whole ploddingly slow jury selection process, bringing in 70 people, giving them numbers, calling out the first 31 numbers, slowly, having them sit in order, etc etc. this is all unneccesary from a strict efficiency perspective, but it inspires confidence, because it's so rock-solid and consistent. or at least it appears so.

Tommorrow are opening arguments, which I will probably be at, too. more as it happens.