Sep 21, 2011

James Ray Hearing: New Dates and More Objections

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Sentencing has been rescheduled for October 6; a day that is not my birthday. The mitigation and presentencing hearing is now scheduled to begin September 28. Worse, word on the street is that the defense intends to object to the new schedule. As per Tom McFeeley, they are claiming that Tom Kelly needs more time to prepare. Being hospitalized for a heart ailment certainly prevented him from appearing yesterday but how did this sudden, health emergency prevent him from being prepared for the previously scheduled dates? Did the dog eat his homework, too?

Once again, I find myself stunned by the slap-dash approach of this expensive, high-power defense team. They always seem to be whining that they've been caught flat-footed by an under-resourced, small-town DA's office. So overwhelmed are they that they can't even find the time to black out the addresses and phone numbers of private citizens on publicly posted documents.

They've got bigger problems with those letters from James Ray's supporters, too. I've been picking my way through them and there are some things that don't add up. I noticed a discussion on Connie Joy's Facebook page that raises some serious questions. Many of the letters were written last fall before the the trial began. It's unclear whether support from some of those letter writers is still forthcoming. From some of the comments in that thread, I would guess not.

I myself noticed that a lot of the letters were dated from September 2010. A number of them don't address the sweat lodge tragedy at all. Some of them aren't even dated and don't address the tragedy. There's no telling when those letters were written. Some of them aren't even letters. They're single paragraph blurbs. Considering that Ray has an extant, if widowed, web page that sports a testimonial blurb from a woman whose death he caused, as well as at least one from a woman who has written a letter for the prosecution, leave say, I'm dubious about undated, nonspecific testimonial blurbs.

The support letters run the gamut. I haven't read them all but what I've read raises considerable concern. One, for instance, contains the following paragraph:

I've had a personal saying that I've shared with both of my children throughout their lifetime and it is exactly as follows:
"If you come home dead, I don't care who's fault it was!"
and what I use as an example to each of them is this: If you are walking down the street and you stop at a intersection, when the light turns green do you walk? NO! You wait, You look around, When it's clear you then walk! Then I remind them how many people see a green light and they start walking (with absolutely no regard for cars or buses). When I am out driving my own car with my children and we are sitting at a light, I'll often point out a stranger and we will make a game of it as we each take a guess ahead of time if a given person will look or walk. Can you guess what happens in most cases? They walk! (without looking). To me personally, it seems like such a common sense thing to do (to look around to make sure it is safe to walk.) I can hardly believe myself that people don't feel the need to do this.

Get it? If some driver runs a red light and hits you, it's your fault, kiddo, because you trusted that they'd be law abiding and pay attention to traffic signals. "Walk on the green, not in between," just isn't gonna cut it. Driving and walking defensively is certainly good advice, in and of itself, but Charlene D of Toronto, Ontario takes it about ten steps further. If her children fail to take responsibility, not only for their own behavior, but for irresponsible, drunk, or otherwise errant drivers, it's their own damn fault if they get hit. And she won't be bothering to seek justice for the vehicular homicide of her own children. So don't expect it.

That letter is just nutty enough to qualify as a bona fide letter of support for the recently convicted James Ray. The message: You're responsible for everything that happens to you even if it's caused by the  irresponsibility of others. Implied: Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman should have left the sweat lodge even though they were delirious from the totally irresponsible levels of heat and humidity and the fact that they were repeatedly told that their delirium was a normal and desirable state.

Like Bob Proctor, Charlene D seems incapable of recognizing the inconsistency of blaming the victims of bad acts for their deaths while simultaneously absolving Ray of responsibility for the legal predicament he finds himself in. In the topsy-turvy world of this rabid "law of attraction" set, people who are hit by drivers who run red lights aren't victims. They're responsible for everything that happens to them. But those felonious drivers are being victimized by those who prosecute them and it's all just horribly unfair.

I'm amazed that I was able to keep reading after that particular letter but I did. And then I stumbled on the letter from one Jack Lane -- not to be confused with Jack LaLane. What immediately struck me about this letter is that Lane claims of to be a combat veteran of the "US Military," but he never says what branch of the military he served in. He claims to have won "Distinguished service medals," plural, but he never says how many of these high honors he received and doesn't appear to know that the Distingished Service Medal is the name of an award and is always capitalized. He claims to have "participated in campaigns such as Desert Storm, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan." So he's been busy. But operations in Pakistan are strictly unofficial. We are not at war with Pakistan. In fact, it's purportedly an ally. The killing of Osama bin Laden earlier this year on Pakistan's soil has created major problems because it brought clandestine missions into the open. That someone who claimed to be a Staff Sergeant in the Special Forces of some unnamed (???) military branch would just throw out something about serving in Pakistan is extremely suspect. But even if I accept that a combat veteran wouldn't specify what branch or know how to write out the name of an award or claim to have fought in a country we're not fighting with, I still find it about impossible to buy that James Ray cured his PTSD -- let alone his somehow only recently diagnosed "bi-polar" disorder.

My bullshit meter thus pegged, I took a break from the James Ray is a great guy letters.

I would advise against anyone with a weak heart or a blood sugar disorder even attempting to read those letters but I do recommend the memorandum from Sheila Polk's office. In it she calls for a maximum, consecutively served sentence of three years for each count. She also argues that Ray make restitution for the State's costs in excess of $67,000 and for the expenses of family members and witnesses during the trial. Go, Sheila!!


  1. Hmmm.... Commenting is working for me but I'm hearing via email that people are having trouble. And I can see in my stats that still more people are having difficulty. Google is making me cranky. As is Facebook... What is up with Facebook, anyway? Horrible new design. Horrible. Google's new designs? Execrable. Yes, I'm very, very cranky.

  2. I note the defense now says that the letters were not redacted "due to an oversight". So that clears that up. They did it deliberately. And after reading their pleas about Kelly's "illness" I call shenanigans. They are trying to cause maximum disruption to the process, as distractions, as always in this trial, can only benefit he who wants to avoid the facts.

    Anyway, by not redacting the letters they have made Death Ray's power over each of the signatories clearer, and by identifying so explicitly as people who support Ray, they are also reminding the writers themselves that it's too late back out of their support. It makes their support more "concrete".

    I hope the judge reads them carefully, because many of those letters reveal the patterns of abuse that are inherent in the nature of the self-help industry/hierarchy.


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