Along with a lot of people in the true crime/pop culture world, I have been watching the trial based on the Netflix documentary Take Care of Maya. The documentary was definitely slanted towards the family, so I was hoping the trial would give me a more balanced look at the case. I had no idea it would last 9 weeks, but once I was in, I could not stop watching. This was also the first civil trial I have ever watched, and it was fascinating to see the jurors asking questions that were thought provoking and proof they were very much paying attention. Florida is one of eight states that allow jurors to ask questions in a civil trial. The verdicts were read yesterday afternoon, and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital was found liable on all counts. I hope this verdict allows Maya to start to heal and move on with her life.
But would the verdict have been the same if it were a different family? This was the question nagging at me yesterday, probably because of my latest podcast listen – Ear Witness – the story of how Toforest Johnson has been on Death Row for over 25 wrongly accused of murdering a sheriff deputy. No direct evidence, no eye witnesses. Just the testimony of a 15 year old girl that changed each time she told the story, and someone who listened in on a three way call with Toforest (ear witness) and said he confessed. The friend with Toforest the night of the shooting was eventually acquitted of the crime. Why? Because his family had the money to hire a good attorney. Being poor and black in Alabama is never a good life trajectory.
Will we ever live in a world where justice is the same for everyone? Is it wrong that Maya’s family had the resources to sue the hospital when others treated the same, or possibly even worse, cannot? I will admit that I felt uncomfortable during the closing arguments when numbers were given as examples for compensating Maya’s family. I also understand this is ‘Merica and it is how we try to make things right. I will always be grateful for the attorney’s closing statements after all those very large numbers were given. He referenced a Pixar movie where the kids figure out a way to bring their parents back from the dead. He literally choked up when he said that Maya and her family would give all of the money back for just one more day with their mother.
I love my true crime obsessed hobby, and my poor husband gets peppered with talk of things like a Franks Motion, Writ of Mandamus during weekend dinners (Hello to fellow readers following the craziness of the Delphi case. And thanks Ms Buckner for four years of high school Latin!). He tries to pay attention, but eventually during these discussions he encourages me to go to law school to provide an appropriate outlet for all of this random knowledge. But I am almost 51 years old, and I spent 8 years in graduate school earlier in life, and the idea of going back to school seems too daunting. So for now, I listen, read, watch all things true crime as a way to keep the dust from settling in on my aging brain.
I will end with a video of a young and very Southern version of me back in the 80s being interviewed during a state wide pageant. Hello, mother. Why did you sign me up for something like this? But the female empowered older version of myself is proud of this little girl and her hero at the time (Geraldine Ferraro). Bless anyone who tried to mess with this girl!