Friday, September 21, 2007

The American Justice System at Work-Round Two

We returned yesterday for the trial.

The prosecution put their case on in the morning and we broke for lunch around noon. There was no defense presented; the defendant didn't testify. I wish he had.

There were closing arguements. The prosecutor restated the facts plainly and simply; the defense attorney was left to attempt to poke holes in the prosecution case-at one point I found myself thinking 'Okay, Matlock we get it. Enough with the theatrics.'

We returned to the jury room and the clerk brought in the evidence. Without going into much detail, we found him guilty. But only after one of the jurors decided that apparently he was in a remake of 'Twelve Angry Men' and began picking apart all kinds of ancillary things that weren't germain to what we were to decide. Like why didn't the sheriff's deputy at the scene charge the young man that night with the federal gun charge. I explained he didn't because a county sheriff's deputy doesn't have the power to do that; federal charges are handed down by grand juries. He nitpicked a number of other things and I've come to the conclusion that he was doing it because our purpose there had suddenly become real to him. We were deciding the future of a 25 year-old young man.

We ultimately found him guilty and I'm confident we made the right decision. The prosecution's case was sound; the judge's instructions were clear.

I'm trying not to let the fact that I've just read in the paper that this 25 year-old will likely get Life without parole due to federal sentencing guidelines eat away at me. The paper described us as 'a federal jury'. Like we were important, smart, wise. I can't say as that's how I think of myself right now.

1 comment:

poopie said...

It's a big responsibility having someone's future in your hands. I hope you find peace with it.