Five at 8 – 12/3/09: Heroes of the justice system

1) In all the stories about the Tom Petters trial, one other verdict is clear: Jurors who serve on high-profile cases are heroes. The trial has been going on for weeks, but the jurors had to leave their jobs to consider his fate. The Mankato Free Press profiles juror William Hickok, an auto parts manager:

Now there’s a pile of work waiting for Hickok at his real job. He’s left 4,100 miles worth of tire tread between his home in North Mankato and the federal courthouse in St. Paul. And there’s a mountain of family time owed to his wife and two kids.

But it’s all been worth the experience of having a first-hand role in a high-profile trial, he said.

“This case had everything you’d see in a big screen movie,” Hickok said. “It had all the players, all the big-name businessmen out of Minneapolis.”

Federal jurors — the Petters case was a federal case — get $40 a day for their work. But those in state trials get almost nothing. A few years ago, jurors in Minnesota were paid $30 a day. Now, that pay has been slashed to just $10.

That reality is what landed a Kanabec County man in jail a few weeks ago when he told a judge he couldn’t afford to take the time off to sit on a jury.

2) Embrace winter? We’d like to welcome those of you who have moved to Minnesota within the last seven months. You’ll notice that it’s snowing a little bit in the Twin Cities. Not much, of course. But it doesn’t take much to gum up the works. We’re at the time of the year where Minnesota drivers have “forgotten” how to drive in the snow. This is our future. The only question is “when?”

Step one: If you’re in St. Paul, you’ll want to sign up for snow emergency alerts.

Veterans of Minnesota winters: What else should our new friends know about surviving winter in Minnesota?

3) It was the last minute of last night’s Wolves-Memphis game at Target Center. The Wolves were down by 2 in an exciting contest. All of the 2,500 people were on their feet — even the group of kids (and their parents) in the next section who couldn’t be bothered to stand for the National Anthem. OK, not all. A guy two rows down from me never looked up from his iPhone, where he was browsing the Web and checking e-mail.

Maybe he can relate to this couple. I can’t.

It’s only a matter of time before someone Tweets “I do.”

4) A new study of 14-24 year olds on our digital obsessions:

Females are slightly more likely to share a naked photo of themselves (13%) than males (9%) while youth who are sexually active are more than twice as likely to send such photos (17% vs. 8%). Perhaps more disturbing is the finding that 17% report having passed the image to someone else and just over 9% have distributed the images to more than one person. Twenty-nine percent of respondents who shared a naked photo of themselves report that they shared the image with someone who they never met in person and only knew online. That represents about 3% of the total sample.

5) Sweet video from the New York Times: The work of an art therapist.

Art? Therapy? War? Here’s the story of Roman Baca, a Marine who was deployed to Fallujah during some of the worst fighting in Iraq. “It was there that he opened up to his fellow Marines about being a dancer ” according to American Public Media’s The Story. “And when he came back home Roman blended his love of dance with his experience in war to create a series of ballets. Roman talks with Dick Gordon about making sense of war and his own masculinity through dance.”


The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra announced Wednesday that it is lowering ticket prices to “promote greater access to concerts.” Does the price of a ticket keep you from attending classical music concerts?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: With the unemployment rate expected to stay over 10 percent well into next year, the Obama administration is holding a summit with economists and business leaders to discuss job creation. Among the ideas being floated are a public jobs program and a tax credit for companies that add workers over the next two years.

Second hour: NPR film critic Kenneth Turan fills us in on the offerings of this holiday movie season from adaptations of children’s classic books to vampire fiction, apocalyptic sci fi, and a George Clooney box office triple threat.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Minnesota economists V.V. Chari and Ed Lotterman discuss the economic realities of job creation strategies, on the day of the White House “Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth.”

Second hour: A Commonwealth Club speech by pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who landed the airplane in the Hudson River.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Years of campus education, “take back the night” marches, and “no means no,” do little or nothing to cut sexual assault on college campuses. And the official data doesn’t even fully reflect the scope of a problem shrouded in secrecy and shame. Guest Host Rebecca Roberts, on curbing campus assault.

Second hour: Football in Jacksonville, where the recession and the NFL blackout rule frustrate football fans.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Bemidji has stopped curbside recycling. Is there a point at which the cost/benefits don’t allow for the programs even if they’re the right thing for the right reason? MPR’s Tom Robertson will have the answer.

A new generation of Catholic bishops is flexing its political muscle. NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty will report.

  • bsimon

    “What else should our new friends know about surviving winter in Minnesota?”

    You have two choices: fight it or embrace it. The former leads to misery, the latter to feelings of elitism over your weaker peers in the places from which you came. Of course, they will think you’re insane.

  • Kim E

    “What else should our new friends know about surviving winter in Minnesota?”

    Two words: Jumper Cables!!

    Also, I’ve heard cat litter works like gravel if your car ever gets stuck in the snow. I’ve never tried it though.

  • GregS

    I saw on the news last night that Mr. Peters spent $650,000 on legal expenses during the trial. This is money that it is now polite to say was stolen.

    On the other hand, jurors are asked to put their lives on hold and sacrifice their income to give justice to Mr. Peters.


    There are huge pots of money floating around the justice system. The largest of which is the money awarded as punitive damages.

    If our legal system had any sense, it would use these funds to pay jurors and fund legal aid.

  • bsimon

    GregS writes

    “There are huge pots of money floating around the justice system. The largest of which is the money awarded as punitive damages.

    If our legal system had any sense, it would use these funds to pay jurors and fund legal aid.”

    I totally agree. That punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff as a windfall is one of the more aggregious flaws of our justice system.

  • Momkat

    The best thing about surviving a Minnesota winter is that spring arrives and it’s all worth it.

  • JackU

    Welcome to Winter, newcomers.

    My suggestion to you is: know no fewer than 2 but preferably at least 4 ways to get from where you are to where you want to go. Always know the “exit of last resort” for your alternates, and be willing to bail on a gut feeling.