Does the ghost in the machine have a sense of humor?

This past week the state Supreme Court began live online video streaming of hearings. As fate would have it, among the first cases on their docket was an appeal from the Review-Journal and The Associated Press over District Judge Jackie Glass’ refusal to grant full and timely access to juror questionnaires in the O.J. Simpson kidnapping and robbery trial this past September.

After the jury was seated Glass relented and provided the blank questionnaire. After the trial ended with Simpson convicted and sentenced to at least nine years in prison, she provided the jurors’ completed questionnaires, though they were heavily and arbitrarily redacted.

We appealed.

It was a lively 43-minute hearing with five justices weighing in by interrupting the attorneys and asking pointed questions. It was a symphony of jurisprudence with crescendos of case citings, chords and choruses, flourishes from our attorney Don Campbell and a few flat notes when the deputy attorney general tried to defend the judge’s secrecy.

I asked one of our tech savvy guys in our online department to capture the stream just in case. Later, when I sought a copy, he asked whether I needed the full video file or would a smaller audio file do. I said audio would suffice. From what I’d seen of the live stream the camera was pulled back too far to make out which justice was speaking at any given time anyway.

He posted an mp3 file on one of our servers, sent me the link and I downloaded it to my laptop. When I double clicked on the file the computer automatically opened it in iTunes.

As I was taking notes, I glanced down at the spreadsheet-like display that shows the name of the file, the length, the artist and album. The artist and album columns were appropriately blank, but under the heading of “genre” the computer has arbitrarily and capriciously assigned: “Blues.”

I hope that is not an omen.

Don Campbell
Don Campbell
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