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I've served on two juries, one for murder and one for a far lesser offense. In one the defendant was a fairly wealthy young man; in the other a poor woman. One defendant was guilty; the other not.

My experience in both those trials was nothing like the author's here. Indeed, I wonder how much of his experience was due to his own concern about things like race and politics instead of, y'know, guilt and innocence. Perhaps had he not been looking down on his colleagues and arguing from emotion, but rather from facts, he could have convinced them to find not guilty.

In both cases, we started with a preliminary vote. In both cases, we argued cordially, with a deep and abiding interest in justice and what the right thing would be. We took turns arguing against our own positions, in order to try to better discover the truth of the matter. We were scrupulous in our decisions, and I feel confident we chose correctly both times.

Both experiences were profoundly inspiring. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

As an aside, I won't claim that the author is lying, because this may vary from state to state, but after both of my cases the judge and both sides of lawyers came in and spoke with us, asking questions about the case and our decisions; there was no notion of post-decision jury confidentiality the author alludes to.

Also, we were intructed in both cases to use our life experiences, not ignore them as the author indicates. Again, this may vary from state to state. Suffice it to say that the system the author depicts is not the one I experienced twice.




I was the foreman in a murder trial, and the experience, for me, was also inspiring and uplifting. There was only one bump in the road for us. Early on, people starting bringing up a hesitation of rendering a guilty verdict, for fear that the man would be put to death, and they didn't know if they could do that. I don't know about other districts, but we weren't voting on the sentence. The judge would do that later. It was an easy argument to point out that this wasn't under our purview, and people dropped that concern quickly.

We were done in 2 hours. It was a drug robbery; someone got shot and died. "Felony murder" makes it really clear: everyone involved is guilty. The statute made things very easy.

The thing that haunts me about my case is that, out of 3 people (the shooter and his 2 accomplices, who were to be tried together in a separate case), our guy produced the gun for the police. If anything, the case made me wonder why there isn't tribal knowledge (unfortunate phrase wording, in this case) among inner-city, young, black men that YOU DO NOT DO THIS? It was open-and-shut, despite all the nonsense about a coerced confession and its subsequent retraction.


> I don't know about other districts, but we weren't voting on the sentence. The judge would do that later.

The one time I was called to jury duty, the judge told us the same. We're not doing the sentencing. We're just there to decide if the evidence shown should render a guilty verdict.

But I found that to be sort of a half-truth. Sure, we are not giving the actual sentence. But if I give a man a guilty verdict, I can't really pretend that I had nothing to do with his sentence.

If I know someone is likely to burn down a house, and I give him a match, how can I pretend to not have anything to do with the house burning down? I knew it was likely going to happen. Likewise, if I know the judge is likely to send someone to jail for 30 years, how can I pretend to not have anything to do with it if I render a guilty verdict? My verdict gives the judge the ability to sentence, just like my hypothetical match gave the hypothetical psycho the ability to burn down the house.


You are so fortunate. I served three times and each was a frustrating and disheartening experience.


I have served once and would have to agree it was frustrating. Some people on the jury were not willing to even talk about their viewpoint after a few hours into deliberation.


I wonder if I've been lucky, or if different states or counties have different types of juries, police and justice systems, or both.


FTA:

> The judge has already instructed us directly that we are not to do any research on the law while sitting on this jury. This is the first of several times I will violate those instructions.

Why do people do this? Why blatantly disregard the instructions of the judge when you're tasked with determining the guilt or innocence of someone and potentially sending them to jail, ruining their professional career, etc?

To completely ignore the instructions of a judge when tasked with something this important should have much more severe consequences than being dismissed and causing a mistrial.


Honestly I can't imagine ever abiding by a rule like that. No outside research? So I'm just supposed to trust everything other jurors say and ignore facts and statistics? I think not. Juries are already horribly misinformed as it is (see: almost every case involving tech/computers) and to rule that no one can even attempt to educate themselves is quite frankly disgusting.


You are to take the case as presented by the prosecution, the case as presented by the defense, and rule one way or the other.

You are not, as someone with no legal training, no background in law or litigation, and no experience in the courtroom outside of being on a jury, supposed to start reading decades old case law and attempting to interpret it.

Lawyers are not paid $300 an hour because they've come up with a sweet gig, it's because the average person (yes, even the average software developer) does not have the context or experience to understand the finer points of the laws in question.


This assumes that both lawyers were of equal competence. The authors does not think so (other members of the jury didn't think so).

In the end, won't the jury have to interpret "case law"? How can you be presented something without interpreting it.


Yes you interpret it, as it is described and presented (in lay terms) by both the defense and prosecution, as filtered by an impartial judge.

And incompetent representation is grounds for an appeal. I'm not sure what exactly that has to do with the fact that John Doe off the street is probably not equipped to read primary source material on legal precedent and interpret it correct on his own.


There is also the question - Where does he source his research. Do his stats come from random internet sources, publications, for example...


The guy that wrote the article talks about doing "research" in one breath and then telling the judge something he heard from Law & Order in the next. I'm assuming people like him are the reason for the "no outside research" rule.




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