Me, the juror

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 21, 2003, 9:13 PM | comments: 0

When I got called for jury duty a couple of weeks ago, I figured so what, it's improbably they'll call us in at all, and even then I wouldn't likely be selected. Well, they did, and I did, so I sat on a panel with 11 other jurors as a man was being tried for two counts of burglary and one count of breaking and entering.

The next day, the prosecution called seven witnesses that included three victims, three detectives and another guy who already plead guilty for the same crimes.

It was an interesting process. There was a lot of evidence to consider, and there was no smoking gun, per se, but the evidence combined with a couple of witnesses made it pretty much a slam dunk. When we deliberated, the jury instructions provided the legal test for each charge, and we simply had to decide if the evidence met each definition for each charge.

What it came down to was that these two guys tried to hit three places in about a half hour. The second place the defendant knocked on a guy's door, and the owner came out through the garage to confront the driver of the car. That owner ID's the defendant, who left foot prints in the fresh snow. The same footprint landed at the other two houses where the burglaries took place, placing him at all three scenes. That's what sealed it for us, even though the footprints on the kicked in doors were a little ambiguous, they were there in the snow.

The icing was the testimony of the other guy, who the prosecution didn't really need to try the case. But when he gave testimony to the exact sequence of events, not having seen any of the rest of the trial, whatever doubt there may have been was gone.

So overall it was an interesting experience. The judge thanked us for his service and gave a little speech about how few countries in the world trust their own citizens to judge those accused of a crime. That was a pretty good point. It's still far from a perfect system, but it could obviously be a lot worse.


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