Jury Duty Part Deux


Jury Duty Part Deux

It’s over, the verdict is in. Yes, he was guilty. It took us about two days to get to the bottom of it. The problem is it seems to me that we are so used to Law and Order, LA Law (if you are that old), CSI and the like that when reality strikes, we get all perturbed.

The jury spent a lot of time complaining on how little information we had, and what a poor job the police, crime lab, and prosecutors did. After all we had no fingerprints, no DNA, no expert witnesses, no trace evidence. All we had was a 911 tape, and conflicting testimony from the victim, his brother, his sister in law, his cousin, his neighbor, and the defendant. The arresting officer added little to the mix, as did the defense’s private detective.

It was up to us to take all that, determine, with very little to go on, just who was lying. And we did.

We decided that there were ‘elements’ of truth in all the stories and a lot of story telling going on, on all sides. However what few actual facts we had (a bullet hole in the ceiling, for instance) told us that obviously something did happen. We just had to use common sense, and the requirements of the law. We must have read and reread the Judge’s instructions a dozen times.

In the end of the seven counts, we found not guilty on two (the most serious) and guilty on five. He will do some time, we were told, and rightly so.

We met with the prosecutor and the defense attorney after the verdict was read. They were open and happy to talk about all the things we couldn’t know. Both agreed with the verdict. The defense attorney was realistic. “My client was stupid. He tried to represent himself for the first eight months of pre trial, then the judge convinced him and I got the case about six weeks ago. Heh. It was obvious the first three stories told to the police were not true. I convinced him to tell the truth. Had he done so in the beginning my guess is that the police and prosecutors would have agreed on a much lesser charge. As it stands he talked himself into prison. Stupid. People who represent themselves have idiots as clients.”

It was a good experience. As someone commented: “How would you like to be tried by a jury that was made up of all the people who couldn’t figure out a way to get out of jury duty.”


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John Van Horn

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