Updated to add: This was written before the acquittal of Donald J. Trump.
As an American, I have done my duty to serve as a juror twice. For me, serving changed my perspective forever. I no longer see it as a punishment or hassle. It is one of the most important things we can do as a citizen of the U.S.
A trial by jury can give people a chance to have people like them see their point if view.
Don’t get me wrong, our jury system is not even close to perfect.. biases and prejudices and racism seep into the system. However, sometimes the selection of jurors can give defendents a better chance than just having a judge decide.
So, back to my point about serving as a juror.
Twice now, in the U.S. Senate, jurors have decided the outcome of a trial before it has began. First, they decided not to hear the first impeachment case. Now, with the second impeachment trial, 45 out of the 100 Senators, aka jurors, have said they have decided before the end of the end of the trial.
That goes against our oaths as jurors. You listen, impartially, until the end. Then, you carefully analyze evidence with respect to the charges.
As I said, twice now I have served as a juror.
The first trial was an attempted murder, kidnapping case with two pages of charges. After a week, both sides had presented their cases and we went to the jury room.
I, as foreperson, called for an initial written/anonymous vote to see from where we were starting.
Everyone voted guilty.
I then said it was our duty to make sure it was beyond a reasonable doubt.
Two men started screaming at me. They wanted to go home. However, four people said they were wondering about the blood evidence. That led to more questions. I had three boxes of evidence delivered.
My new jury friends helped by writing questions on a white board and we went back through the evidence. We all saw that the evidence was overwhelming. We voted again.
I got the officer and they called everyone back to the courtroom. We felt like we had deliberated a long time.
Once we were back in the courtroom, the judge explained they were a bit unorganized because they didn’t expect us back so quickly.
We had deliberated an hour and a half.
He got 120 years in prison.
I think carefully considering any doubts was worth an hour and a half of our time, considering he was spending the rest of his life in prison.
That is how jurors behave.
The second trial I served was a civil case surrounding an accident. The evidence was so clearly pointing at the defendant being in the right. It was crystal clear.
However, two women on the jury were adamant that he was in the wrong. They each stood on either side of me yelling about their view. (I was foreperson again.)
I called for evidence to be brought in to show them answers to their concerns. They were angry and wanted to vote against the defendant.
There were clear biases on their part. They described accidents they had been in. They yelled about being blamed for things they didn’t do. There was a hint of racism. (The defendant was a black man.)
The rest of the jury wanted me to stop these two somehow. Remembering the gravity of the other case, I convinced them to hear the other two out.
It got heated. I asked everyone to take a minute.
After two more hours, the two women
decided to vote in favor of the defendant.
After all was said and done, the judge wanted to thank us for our service. The two women jumped at the chance to ask him what he thought. The judge said it was crystal clear that we made the correct decision. He was surprised it took us so long.
My point for sharing these stories is to show the importance of listening to all the evidence, to considering a point of view with which you may not agree and making a decision based on all the facts.
Forty-five Senators are not doing their jobs. They have clearly not listened to or considered the House Managers case at all.
I wish I had the opportunity to tell them:
Do your job. Serve as jurors should.