A ProPer Defense… Squid shlepped to the mailbox a few weeks back and found a jury summons. “Great,” Squid grumbled, “jury duty during a pandemic. What could possibly go wrong.” But Squid believes in doing Squid’s civic duty, and so masked up, gloved up and headed to Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas. After a temperature check (Squids can’t thermoregulate, so it was all over the place) and questions about symptoms (none, except for a growing sense of ennui) Squid found Squidself party to the first Covid-era jury trial in Monterey County.

The defendant: Kiriel Kesterson. The defense attorney: Kiriel Kesterson. In an unusual yet constitutionally allowed move, Kesterson represented herself on a trio of misdemeanor charges that alleged while she was being evicted from a rental in Prunedale earlier this year, she dug up plants from the yard – plants, it turns out, she planted herself – and took them with her, and wrote a vulgar word on the landlord’s property.

And in another unusual move for a defendant representing herself, Kesterson appeared to know what she was doing. She demanded her constitutional right to a speedy trial. The DA had to prosecute her by July 6, or she would walk – pandemic or no pandemic.

On June 30, Kesterson emailed prosecutor Sandra Drago and stated this: “It doesn’t matter. You’re going to lose this case and waste everyone’s time… I guarantee I will convince at least one juror of the truth.”

Or more than one juror, it turns out. Kesterson for the win – the jury came back with a not guilty verdict.

Luck of the Draw… Squid’s not much of a gambler because Squid hates losing. It seems like maybe that’s something Squid has in common with Carmel Pine Cone Publisher Paul Miller, who sends an email every few days with an update on the pandemic. Lately, Miller took to calling zip codes with no reported cases “The Lucky 10” – from Pacific Grove to Big Sur – even though luck is only part of the explanation for why these communities had fewer cases than other zip codes. (There’s a lower population density, for example, than in urban Salinas, and less crowded housing.)

To protect privacy, the Monterey County Health Department doesn’t differentiate in its reporting when fewer than five people fall into any given category. That means Monterey Peninsula zip codes were lumped together, until July 8, when the data showed 10 confirmed cases in Pacific Grove and nine at the mouth of Carmel Valley. Squid was waiting for the Pine Cone to relabel the communities with 10-plus cases as “unlucky zip codes” – like the rest of the world, considering a pandemic is, by definition, a global phenomenon – but that hasn’t happened. The Pine Cone might be trying to erect the so-called Lettuce Curtain, but it just doesn’t work for virus prevention.

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