Report from the Juror Box

Well, I got picked for a jury today. I really didn’t think I would. I got picked once before, in 1998, before my current profession. A few years ago, I was the first juror rejected by one of the lawyers. This time, however, I got picked, despite admitting to knowing someone who has been affected by domestic violence, and despite my profession. The exposure to domestic violence, however, would have excluded half the room – literally every woman and at least one man called for jury duty that day had to go up and talk to the judge about their experiences with that one. Which says something pretty sad about the state of our country.

But anyway, it was a six person jury. We had to deliberate on three charges – assault, malicious destruction of property under $250, and intimidating a witness. Here’s what we concluded, in non-legal terms:

1. Both lawyers were idiots and did a pretty pisspoor job of presenting their case.
2. Neither the alleged victim, the alleged perpetrator, or the witness were particularly credible people. The cop was the fourth witness, and he was just sort of vague and mostly inconclusive.
3. The whole case was really, really sad. Basically, it was 2 really poor people who have been in each others’ lives for 29 years who had a nasty argument (which probably got physical – though there was no evidence to support this claim) which has now resulted in one of them being homeless, another one with no access to any legal source of money, and a broken relationship.
4. Despite the fact that we concluded there was no evidence to support the assault or intimidation charges (but we did find the defendant guilty on the charge of destruction of property) we were all pretty sure some sort of ugliness went down, and that makes it sort of sucky to have to issue a not guilty vote. Because my nightmare – and the nightmare articulated by other jurors – is that this becomes one of those cases where he winds up going back and hurting her more seriously. Which is why domestic violence is both so hard to prosecute and convict, and also so scary to have to assess guilt.

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~ by realsupergirl on November 26, 2008.

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