My interest in the law and getting selected for 7 jury panels was an interesting Law of Attraction (4 Attraction blogs) in action!
It was in the 80’s and I was studying law theory, reading cases as a possible future profession. I got a usual jury summons, number was drawn, and I was selected every time from then on. In jury selection (voir dire) questions I remained neutral and knew how to answer. My job paid me while on jury duty so I was paid to observe and learn while doing my best to weigh the facts.
I took good notes and became foreman of 4 of the 7 panels, civil and criminal. One civil case of a contractor not building a house correctly was a few weeks and resulted in over a hundred thousand awarded to the owners. It was tough because the owners were out more than that but were happy with the outcome as they proved a lot of errors in construction!
A tough one was a rape case. The state presented their evidence and a man was serving a couple months already for the alleged crime. It was my first foremen post and this was serious as the penalty was going to be many years and a woman may have suffered to the extreme in one of the most horrible crimes a man can commit on a woman.
The defendant argued he didn’t do it and the state evidence wasn’t beyond doubt. In deliberations… it was 11-1 to convict for rape, a huge sentence… but it had to be 12-0 or it was hung. Yes… I was the 1. I let the panel know there was no rape kit, no transfer of any kind to the woman, no proof he was with her at that time except her testimony and a few other hearsay statements, no further witnesses. I stood up and told that jury! They understood, all of them, and within the hour we were 12-0 no rape!
It was down to a strong battery charge and assault that carried a longer sentence than a simple battery, again the states evidence was so weak… yet there I was again the only holdout at 11-1! So, this time I asked them questions they could only answer to the states evidence as to whether it was solid or not… they agreed it wasn’t, shortly it was 12-0 no battery! This was a defining moment in my life.
It came down to simple assault which did occur at a different time, the defendant was free on time served. That guy was happy, but he would have served years for a crime I don’t believe he committed had I not been on that panel! It’s scary for me to think how close that was and how many innocent people are probably in prison… there definitely has to be a decent percentage! But I felt good that my leadership worked and many on that panel thanked me as they knew what we did was right!
Besides a few shorter cases involving money, DUI, standard stuff, I began to like and understand the courtroom process. Although I never want to be on the side of being in a case personally, it’s something I think I’d be good at as an attorney, I can sense objections, what’s going to happen next, etc.
My latest jury duty was another tough one. It was the death of a 20 yr old man who underwent a simple surgical procedure on his knee. The young man, recently engaged, was discharged after a time off his meds (opiates for pain by IV) and some valiums. He was home upright in his bed with his laptop, feeling ok, his dad left to get his prescription, came home, his son was dead. Tragic story beyond my understanding, and his parents were in court suing the hospital.
This was a few weeks plus. Many of us took great notes and had a solid debate for a few days. It was mostly 7-5 for the hospital, I was for the parents as I felt they released him too soon off the IV and also gave him Vicodin before he left, there’s no other reason he became unconscious and died, a healthy young man, plain and simple. After the long deliberations and no progress in favor one way or another, we were hung, first time for me… I still feel I was right and held onto those convictions as no facts proved otherwise. I believe they were going to retrial later, and… interestingly, the hospital changed its release policies since that mans death. The father thanked me for trying and I gave his attorney a few questions that I feel need to be asked of certain witnesses in a retrial.
So, in my experiences on jury duty I learned a lot about how the courtroom works, I also see this as our American duty and that’s it’s indeed a privilege to serve! Look at other countries, how they can move against their citizens! Till next time, God Bless,