As you know I was required to participate in jury duty. I have had to distance myself from the experience because I quickly learned that jury duty was anything but joyful. It was just a duty plain and simple and I walked away with nothing more than a heavy heart.
The trial that I was required to sit for was a State vs. John Doe (changed his name for obvious reasons) case. John was being accused of committing a battery. The actual trial itself was very dry and long. There was a lot of hurry up and wait. The jury was constantly being whisked to the jury room because the judge and lawyers had to discuss point that the jury could not be privy to. This part really frustrated me, because I felt that there was a lot of information we weren't getting.
The prosecution took almost a full day to present their case before they rested. The lead attorney for the prosecutors office looked extremely young and gave the impression that this was just a job. I wondered if the State Attorney's Office targets new grads because they can pay them a lot less and because they will be so desperate for court room time they will take almost any case.
I say that because I am not sure that I believe that she believed that she should be prosecuting the case, but merely was doing it because it would be a slam dunk. They had very damaging, compelling video evidence of the alleged battery.
That being said, his defense was, well the only word I can use to describe it is....lacking. They were trying to use a smoke and mirrors defense strategy to get us to look at everything else but the actual charge John was being tried for.
At the end of the second day when we were sent in for deliberations I found myself starting to feel ill. Based on the instructions by the judge there was no other way for me to vote except guilty. These instructions are very clear. Did I believe all of the testimony by the prosecutors witness? Absolutely not. In fact I even think there were statements made that were out right lies, but in the end, once everyone rested it became clear the prosecutor had a solid case if for no more reason than that damaging video evidence.
We deliberated for a couple of hours. Not because there was dissent among the jurors, but because none of us wanted to be wrong. We actually looked for a reason, any reason we could, to find him not guilty, if only because the six of us sitting in that jury room knew we were about to change this man's life inexplicably.
After all of the deliberation and the review of all the evidence my heart ached. I didn't believe this man was evil. I didn't believe this man a monster. I believe he was provoked and his retribution was was carried to far. Unfortunately we were not able to decide based on pity or anything else except the facts. And at the end of the day we had to find him guilty.
I knew when I left the courthouse I had done the job I had been tasked with. But it was with a heavy heart. Most people look at jury duty as a nuisance and I can certainly understand that. For me, well I determined that I really don't ever want to hold the fate of someone else in my hands ever again. For me jury duty was just that...duty.