Saturday, December 16, 2006

Inside the jury room

Yesterday, Constant Partial Attention (which actually sounds like what most attorneys jurors of paying to the case) wrote a lengthy and informative piece about her experience serving on a jury in a drug case.

As you're walking into the jury deliberation room a man is already volunteering to be the foreman. You know nothing about him but would rather not be the foreman yourself so when he asks if anyone has any objections, you say no. And so he proceeds to be a crazy, raving lunatic who keeps using the phrase "skimpy police work," doesn't seem to have any actual point beyond that and will listen to no one but himself. The only other person in the room who doesn't think the foreman is crazy is a mild mannered lady who is not very bright. You know she is not very bright because even though it has been stated about four thousand times that the picture that was admitted into evidence of the bag of rock cocaine is the actual bag of rock cocaine found at the scene, (Why wouldn't it be?) she claims that she heard it was a different bag of rock cocaine and requests a read-back of the testimony. Which takes about half an hour longer than you actually have to deliberate. So you walk the six blocks, three of them up hill, back to your car, drive home in rush hour traffic and prepare to come in the next day, hoping it will be your last.

Most attorneys have bizarre and complex theories about jury selection, but the truth is that we all have no idea what makes jurors tick. Once the case leaves your hands and gets into theirs it is all just a roll of the dice. I have won cases based solely on jurors following their own hunches and coming to conclusions that neither side thought were possible.

On the whole, I get why we have juries in this country- before the state takes a man's freedom, it needs the permission of its citizens. "You say this man committed a crime? Well, you need to prove it to us first." But in actual practice, it amounts to a sing and dance, and a hope that they get it right.


Lex Luthor said...

Why is it when I look at the guy and have that expression that he is already guilty and I am picked!

Lady Aeval said...

I've never served. With my luck I'd get some psycho who goes out to kill all the jurors later. I'd probably be denied anyway, they'd read my opinionated blog and say "we don't want this woman!"

It makes you wonder if they'll look at blogs to see how snarky you are.