Sunday, June 27, 2010

Justice Unserved

I have officially completed my duty as a good American citizen. I finished jury duty yesterday. It was a trying experience, pun somewhat intended.

It was a rape case.

The morning I responded to my summons, I just knew I would be on the jury. In the pit of my stomach, I just knew. My name wasn't drawn at first. Then they started dismissing people with the really good excuses. When the third person was dismissed, they drew my name. I knew it!

I can tell you that no one on this jury took this case lightly. We deliberated for hours and hours - went home for the night, came back and deliberated again. Sitting in court for 8 hours a day and hearing testimonies and examining gruesome evidence is exhausting! I am so tired! Not to mention the nightmares and lost sleep I had over this.

In the end, the jury could not come to a unanimous decision. For some, there was enough reasonable doubt to refrain from convicting the defendant. For others, they strongly felt he was guilty. After all those hours of deliberating in a locked room with no contact with the outside world, we conceded that we were a hung jury. The judge called it a mistrial and later informed us that this was the second time this case was tried. And the first time resulted in a hung jury as well. The judge said this case was really on the border with some of its evidence and two trials with the same outcome really proved the justice system worked for him. For me, I find a little comfort knowing that we weren't the only jury confused by the evidence and testimony - and lack thereof. I don't know what happens next. I don't know if the state will push for a third trial or just call it. I feel horrible for the victim who has lived through her hell on the stand twice now. I even feel bad for the defendant whose life has been on hold for almost two years, with his freedom in the balance.

Ugh. It really took an emotional toll! I still think about it when my mind wanders. I still dream about the details.

I need a massage.

It was fascinating to be a part of this. To see the justice system up close and personal. It was enlightening. It's something I think every American should have to do. But as for me, I hope I never have to do it again!

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