Sep 19, 2011

James Ray Hearing Vacated Due to Illness

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

What part of next Monday is my birthday don't these people understand?! James Ray was scheduled to be sentenced that day, but justice has been delayed... again.

Supporters of a self-help author convicted in the deaths of three people after an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony will have to wait to testify in an effort to convince a judge that James Arthur Ray deserves a lenient sentence.

An attorney in the case had a medical emergency, prompting the cancellation of a weeklong hearing that was supposed to start Monday, Yavapai County Superior Court officials said.

. . .

This week’s hearing hasn’t been rescheduled. Ray was scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 26, and it’s unclear whether that will go forward as planned.

Word is that Tom Kelly has been hospitalized and because he is Ray's Arizona counsel, the law requires his presence. Luis Li and Truc Do, in addition to being almost inconceivably annoying, are out-of-towners.

Sybil: Well, Basil, guess who's just called to cancel at twelve minutes past seven.
Basil: Who?
Sybil: The Coosters
Basil: What!? All four?
Sybil: Marvellous, isn't it?
Basil: Aagh! What did they say?
Sybil: One of them's ill.
Basil: Well, let's hope it's nothing trivial.

~ from Fawlty Towers, "Gourmet Night"

The whole thing seems a little too convenient. Delaying the inevitable seems to be the stock in trade of Ray's defense and their previous motion to have the mitigation hearing vacated was denied. I certainly don't wish Mr. Kelly any ill. I'm actually a little concerned that he may have been poisoned. Organophospates in his coffee, perhaps?

In the meanwhile, there's lots of fun reading in new court documents. Let's see... The defense moved last week to exclude the letters collected by the prosecution attesting to Ray's dirtbaggyness.  (Background on those letters can be found here.) The prosecution has responded to their motion explaining that the rules of evidence are different in non-capital cases and that the "purpose of a presentence hearing is to ensure that the sentencing judge is fully informed as to the character of the individual." Ouch. That could hurt.

I remain confused as to how it is that the defense was unaware that Mary Latallade had met Ray and attended JRI events, as per the claim in their motion to exclude all that troublesome truth-telling. She was using her married name of Bryson when she attended the 2008 Spiritual Warrior event that nearly killed her, but her experience was spelled out in the her letter which was immediately disclosed to the defense. Their attention to detail continues to impress.

Also fun is the newly uploaded document containing the letters from Ray's supporters, some of whom are slated to testify in the mitigation hearing... should that ever happen.

It's piles of verbiage and I've only skimmed the reams of letters about the wonders of the "law of attraction" and Ray's teaching of it. But some really fun bits pop to the surface. For instance, the personal note to Ray that brackets the first letter:

Dear Mr. Ray,
I have searched hard to try to find an email address for you on the web (and failed.) During my search I glimpsed the furore about the deaths of three people and the only conclusion I could draw from it was that the media hates successful people. I dismiss it all.... I wish you peace and the strength to fight the subversive elements that are ready to denigrate your name.

Seriously? You're gonna open with that?

Yes. That's right. James Ray is a victim... of a hate campaign, really. No one understands that better than Ray. But this tragic martyr would forgive all of us who know not what we do.

James Ray is just like Jesus... except that Jesus never cooked anyone to death.

It's amazing how the whole "law of attraction" you're never a victim and you're solely responsible for your own reality thing evaporates when it's the people who teach it who find themselves in those merciless crosshairs.

No one does this doubletalk better than Bob Proctor. He's holding fast to his previous public statements in his letter of support.

I have offered, on a couple of occasions, to go to his court and testify in [Ray's] favor. I am of a firm opinion that although he is responsible for the work he does, he is definitely not responsible for the actions of others. I believe one of the glaring weaknesses in our educational system is that people are not taught to take responsibility for their own lives. It is obvious that if one person was free to walk out of the sweat lodge, every person was free to walk out of the sweat lodge and to punish James for someone else's actions, in my opinion, is a miscarriage of justice.

In a tragic situation like this, it would be very easy to get emotionally upset and feel someone has to be blamed. This was a terrible accident and I don't really believe anyone is to blame. I would urge you to permit James Ray to walk away from this situation and deal with himself and God in his own way.

So no one's to blame except the delirious and unconscious people in Ray's "hellacious hot," not "weeny-ass sweat lodge." He's not really saying it's their fault, though. Really, he blames society for not educating people properly about personal responsibility. But it's no one's fault.

I think Proctor's so good at this gobbledygook because he's not smart enough to realize that he's contradicting himself. But the cognitive dissonance for those of us with critical thinking skills is almost physically painful.

He's quite certain, though, that it's not James Ray's fault. I mean what did he do other than create the hottest sweat lodge ever conceived of by mortal men and shame people into staying in it when they tried to crawl to the door?

It can't be his fault. He did nothing! In particular, he didn't use the cell phone in his hand to call 911 when he learned that people weren't breathing. He knew better than to take responsibility for other people's stuff, including their unconsciousness and lack of respiration.

Proctor is slated to testify in the mitigation hearing. His name can be found on the list provided by the defense along with other luminaries like Genpo Roshi, a Buddhist priest who was disrobed over a sex scandal and "habitual abuses of power." So that should help. (The State's list is here.)

Salty has a rundown of some of the other defense witnesses here. Another fun revelation in that article is a link to a page from Ray's "decaying website" that includes a testimonial from Liz Neuman -- a woman he was convicted of cooking to death. Um... Clean-up on aisle 10, people!!! It's not enough to widow the page. You have to actually delete the damn thing. Unbelievable.

In addition to exploiting the sentiments of a dead woman, Ray, through his attorneys, has once again violated the privacy of private citizens in uploaded court documents. This time its his own witnesses. None of the address and contact info is redacted from the letters of support. Carelessness? Stupidity? Malice? I'm never sure.

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