Tuesday, July 5

On Juries and Judgement

I know that the blogosphere will be rampant tonight with posts about today's verdict in the Casey Anthony trial. And indeed, I am disappointed by the verdict.

But I am sorry that so many folks out here in internet-land are violently lambasting the jury. I hope that everyone who is so sure they would have done differently has sat on a jury (preferably a death penalty case).

I was not part of a death penalty jury - but I did sit on a jury once. It was a situation that tore at my heart. The person sat accused of physically abusing a person of diminished mental capacity. Allegedly she and another person tied the person behind a lawn tractor and dragged her. It was horrible to imagine.

Our job as the jury was to determine the fate of the accused - based upon the evidence presented at trial.

It is a surreal experience. A courtroom is very similar to a church sanctuary. The audience/congregation in their pews - the wise judge/pastor trying to keep everyone focused on justice - and each side trying to present their version of truth...knowing that the real truth lies under all the spin.

I guess in that rough analogy, the jury is the choir. Sitting and trying to view the whole scene impartially - walking a thin line of detachment (to view facts) and passion (to feel for the victim). But knowing that in the end, they are going to have to play a pivotal role in the decision. One person of 12.

We spent the entire day listening to both sides. I think that we all took it very seriously. When the jury had to leave the courtroom - we spoke very little. Just stuff like jobs and hobbies. After all, we were there to do a job...not make friends. I was elected foreman, mostly because nobody else wanted to do it. (that's how I became treasurer of the Latin club and secretary of most every other geek club)

When the time came for us to deliberate - we made sure that every person in that room was heard. And we shared a lot of ideas. It was not an easy decision to make. Because, in our hearts - we knew that SOMETHING had happened. And we knew that SOMEONE knew what happened to who. But the state simply didn't prove its case. In fact, it shot itself in the foot a couple of times.

We had to acquit.

I wept the whole way home. And for about an hour after that. And even though that has been years ago...that emotion is still raw...I'm holding back tears as I type.

So - don't tell me that there aren't members of that jury in Florida who aren't hurting right now for that little girl. That simply isn't possible. And unless we have walked that mile in their shoes - we can't know what we would have done.

This isn't the movies. Sometimes there isn't closure.

Sometimes justice has to wait for the real judge.


  1. Bless you ~ and thanks for sharing.

  2. So well put Chris. And has caused me to read the news or listen to the news without saying "what the devil did they listen to?" You are right... I was not on the jury and have no right to question their very difficult decision. Thank you for a thought provoking blog tonight.

  3. As usual you have hit the nail on the head. Very well written & it speaks to the heart from the heart !

  4. Awesome Chris! I have had a hard time putting this somewhere I finally had to give it to God!