Will There Be a Jimmy Hoffa Trial?

I feel as though I should write about today's developments in the investigation into the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa not because there is big news to report (at least not yet) but because one day I would like to be able to tell my grandchildren that I "covered" the story even though Hoffa went missing when I was nine years old and living in Canada.

The "news" is that the feds are digging up land in Michigan near where Hoffa disappeared in July 1975 after receiving the "best lead" they've had in years in the case. Apparently, according to the feds, they now believe there was a lot of suspicous activity at Hidden Dreams Farm (you just can't make this stuff up) on the day that Hoffa went poof into the wind.

For legal analysts and true-crime journalists, the Hoffa mystery is like the Kentucky Derby and Super Bowl Simpson case all wrapped into one. You've got your mob angle. You've got your money angle. You've got your conspiracy theories. You've got your fame. You've got your jokes about the Meadowlands. It is a legendary story that will fascinate readers, viewers and listeners alike if it ever makes it to trial. So will it? Will there be a criminal case if by the grace of God and ultrasound they find Hoffa's body underneath the horse field in Milford Township Michigan? It all depends.

It depends entirely upon what they find. If they find the body and it still somehow contains physical or scientific evidence that investigators can use then it is possible that we could at least see an indictment in this case-- of who I have no idea. And that evidence would have to be very strong and very incriminating and not very susceptible to attack on its accuracy and reliability. In other words, it would alone have to be enough to link someone or some group of folks to Hoffa's disappearance.

But if the body offers no additional clues, or if it offers only soft evidence, I don't see how it helps move along the case other than to confirm that Hoffa doesn't get bounced upon every time the Giants score a touchdown in East Rutherford. Remember, there are plenty of murder cases each year in which the victim's body is not found at the time of trial. And there are plenty of convictions in these cases, too. It seems to me that, body or not, if the feds thought they could gain a conviction against someone in this generations-long investigation they already would have given it their best effort.

Still, I say: Dig, dig dig. Covering the Hoffa trial would make my life even more exciting and fulfilling than it already is. In the meantime, if you are looking for tangible legal news, I direct you to the case of Phyllis Caliano-Bahaj, who was injured seven years ago when a beach umbrella blew into her head at Robert Moses State Park in New York. Yesterday, reports the New York Times in today's editions, the state settled with the woman for $200,000. After the deal was announced, Bahaj's lawyer appeared with an umbrella and told reporters: "Summer's coming. Believe it or not, beach umbrellas like this can be a real hazard to your health.... It's no joke."

By  |  May 18, 2006; 4:45 PM ET
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I don't think they'll find him. I heard they chopped him up, creamated him, and spread his ashes over a jewish cemetary somewhere in New Jersey.

Posted by: John R. Baird, Jr. | May 18, 2006 07:23 PM

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