The sniper trial

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 5, 2003

Why all the whining at the Beach because the sniper will be tried there?

So it will cost the city an extra $800,000, by early greedy estimates. Compare that with what will be taken in by local businessmen. The best hotels will fill up with news-chasing reporters from all over the country, maybe the world. Look for all three 6 o’clock TV talking heads to force on us their analysis of the day’s progress, or lack of it, providing Virginia Beach with splendid and copious free publicity. Even lesser motels will be jammed and every fast food eatery will be hard pressed to provide enough coffee throughout the day. Surely the fanciest expensive restaurants will do great lunch and evening business. There will be a new horde of tourists strolling the boardwalk, those participating in the trial and thousands more hoping to glimpse those participating in the trial. T-shirts will be in short supply as souvenirs of a trial more famous than O.J. Simpkins; after all, he only murdered two people.

Our city officials should be chastised for not putting in a bid for Suffolk. We have a relatively new courthouse and a fountain. Our judges are just as impartial as any they will dig up, literally. We have plenty of motels; darn, no Hilton, places to dine, and our airport could serve as a parking lot with shuttles running back and forth to the city center. We have capable sheriff deputies and police personnel and they could use a little excitement. Lord knows we have plenty of churches and they will be packed several Sundays because the trial will drag on and on. Reporters – and prosecutors – go to church, but I’m not sure about defense lawyers. They should, and pray like hell for forgiveness for what they often attempt to do. Many judges are so keen on separating church and state they are not sure if it would be ethical to enter a house of worship. They might be shocked at signs in church stating: &uot;IN GOD WE TRUST.&uot;


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But why is a money- and time-wasting trial being held in the first place? Nowadays, celebrity trials are a circus, deliberately staged to prove to the world we are fair and square, benefit of the doubt and all that. How else would lawyers representing either side make a living? They are forced by nature of their trade to drive fancy cars, wear expensive suits, and line their office shelves with imposing volumes that record the details of past circuses. When everyone knows a criminal is guilty, what is wrong with a good old-fashioned lynching? Some say this will be a quick trial; Noah was told there would be a few light showers.

If they were to poll the jury before the trial they would get the same result they will get after the trial. Maybe, if they bring deaf and blind Russian jurors in from northern Siberia, they might find one person whose mind is not already set. I know two brilliant local citizens who said those two gunmen were guilty the day they found out they had dark skin. I also know a woman from the ACLU who claims they were only targeting in their rifles. The NRA’s celebrity, Charlton Heston, is mulling it over.

If I were king, I would demand a poll of our nation’s mothers, except those in California and Florida, asking what their instincts tell them. I would ask the question on national television and allow them 36 hours to reply by ordinary mail. That would count for 25 percent. Dr. Phil would count for another 25 percent. Those two on TV who talk to the dead would count for 10 percent and Oprah the balance. There you have it – a mistrial.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be contacted at