Spectral Evidence: The Ramona Case: Incest, Memory, and Truth on Trial in Napa Valley

By Moira Johnston | Go to book overview

18
The Debate Continues

As Tim and Michael Mondavi took their oaths on May 2 and 3, the court settled in to watch them try to convince the jury that Gary Ramona's firing had had nothing to do with rumors of rape. At stake for the Mondavis was their reputation for fairness and family loyalty, the risk of another family schism -- and publicity they did not want. At stake for the insurers was the $8 million Gary had demanded as recompense for the damage done to his career by the defendants.

The sons would tell a story as poignant as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman; they painted Gary Ramona as a salesman who had sunk in a swamp of unsophisticated and outdated thinking -- a death of his own making. Harrington had already argued persuasively that the characteristics his accusers most criticized in Gary -- his confidence, decisiveness, devotion to work, and so on -- were the very hallmarks of a good businessman. But, to the brothers, Gary was a retail animal who had been in his element winning ends and sides in supermarkets but unable to evolve as the market grew more competitive. A man "limited by his weaknesses," as Tim said.

"I have always had great regard . . . great affection for Gary. I have admired Gary for his dedication, for his charisma, for his energy. But over time it became evident that his organizational abilities were not as strong as his charisma and dedication," said Tim, looking more counterculture than corporate with his full head and beard of sandy- red hair topping his double-breasted gray suit. His gentle look proved deceptive as Miroglio asked him, "Were you one of the people responsible for granting Mr. Ramona leave of absence on or about June 18, 1990?"

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