on perry mason day 7, what i DIDN’T learn in civics class …

It's not like I think this blog has a huge audience or anything, but I'm posting this because I'm upset and frustrated. My jury duty ended two days ago, but I still haven't been able to let my frustration with the experience go.  I wrote and posted a previous entry on the experience, but it was too angry for public consumption so I got up in the middle of the night and made it private.  For me, doing something constructive with my frustrations sometimes helps me to put those frustrations to bed so here's my effort at making lemonade.

On the seventh day of the trial we heard closing arguments and the judge's instructions, then began our deliberations.  We elected our foreperson, then briefly reviewed the two charges and the facts of the case.  On count one, the first poll of the jurors was 10 guilty, 2 not guilty.  We went around the room and we each gave our reasoning for our verdicts.  After some discussion and close reading of the some legal definitions from the judge, one of the two not guilty voting jurors changed his vote saying that he had mis-understood the charge.  The final juror, however, simply said, "Not guilty, I have reasonable doubt."  The rest of us asked her to explain her reasoning as, perhaps, the rest of us had missed something she picked up on.  It was all very polite and civil,  Her reaction was "I don't need to prove anything.  Not guilty."  That was pretty much the extent of her "deliberation" for the next four or five hours. 

It went something like this. 

"Should we ask to see the transcript from either or both of the expert witness's testimony?" we asked.

"I didn't ask for anything so I don't need to see anything.  I just have reasonable doubt."

"Is there any possibility that re-visiting the testimony might help us see it differently one way or the other?"

"I don't need to see anything. I don't need to look at anything.  He's not guilty.  That's just my opinion."

We reviewed the legal definition of doubt vs. reasonable doubt.

"Not guilty."

I can't prove it to you, so you'll just have to take my word for it that the the evidence of his guilt on the first count was OVERWHELMING!

Evidence for the second count was much murkier and our polls were very closely split 5-7, 7-5, 6-6 with people changing their votes after discussing different aspects of the evidence.   In truth we probably would have come to a verdict of not guilty or dead locked on count two, but I'm sorry count one was a fucking slam dunk!!!

I'm convinced (and this is only speculation on my part and my personal opinion) that given the circumstances of the case, that juror 31 would never ever have it in her to vote for guilt NO MATTER WHAT evidence was presented by the prosecution.

As you can imagine.  It got quite unpleasant by the end of the LONG day.  She played the attacked victim to perfection and I suspect that she's satisfied with her actions.  For my part, I hope that the defendant learned a good lesson and will never again make the bad decision he made.  I'm not so big a person, however, to hope that should he ever again be an asshole who drinks and drives and heaven forbid, kills someone, I hope it's her and not some other innocent bystander … It's harsh, but that's how I feel.   

Here's the lemonade.  The prosecutor informed us after the mistrial was declared that given that circumstance, we should have informed the court that juror 31 was failing to deliberate in good faith.  If a juror engages in discussion and participates in discourse about the facts, but just draws a different conclusion than the other 11 people, that is a juror doing her job!  Stonewalling without engaging, however, IS NOT deliberation and does not belong in the process.

So people remember this because you won't see a situation like this on an episode of Law and Order. 

If you ever serve on a jury, DO NOT let a random juror stonewall for or against a verdict that is just.  A juror who is stonewalling rather than deliberating CAN be removed and replaced with an alternate!!!

Serve your jury duty.  It's important. 

Don't drink and drive!

Oh yeah, the prosecutor also informed us that she intended to re-try the case as soon as possible.

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