Sunday, May 22, 2005

Guilty or Not Guilty, But Not Innocent (part 2)...

On Today's Menu:
Still More Just Desserts (Or, A Diabetic's Nightmare)

I was recounting my jury duty experience and interrupted it with the news of my first fiction sale. (Yes, I'm still on that sugar rush--no worries, Robin B., pull up a chair and grab a spoon!) Well, the young woman, the victim's sister, requested to take the stand again after lunch.

Here comes a "Law & Order" twist.

She said, "Well, I'm not sure exactly who I saw look through that blind and shoot my brother."

The defense attorney pounced on this. From that point on, I could not be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that this man was guilty of the crime he allegedly committee. I wasn't sure. I had a very, very strong feeling he could have done it, but we only had one witness's word (and his girlfriend's) about who was inside that house and where they were when the police arrived. Sleeping. Hmmm. And this same witness bore a very strong resemblance to the accused. Even when the DA called a few witnesses at the county jail to testify about some alleged conversations and shouting between the accused and some others who'd been present at the time of the incident, I still couldn't believe these officials had an accurate recollection of what they heard at the time, any more than I had believed the victim's sister.

The DA could not produce enough witnesses to satisfy my reasonable doubts. When my fellow jurors and I went into deliberations, our initial vote was 10 not guilty, 2 guilty. The charge required a unanimous verdict. We decided to have a good lunch and then come back and kick the evidence around some more. Eight of us ladies went to a local Mexican cafe, oh yum. We managed to talk about all kinds of things--men, our kids, our activities, local news, shopping--anything but the trial. Hey, we're women! After an hour's worth of chat and enchiladas, I was ready to work.

Late in the afternoon of the second day of the trial, we had our unanimous vote. The verdict was read, and the accused clenched his fists at his sides and hissed a soft, "Yes." Once the judge continued reading, the young man started wiping tears from his eyes. We as a jury were released from our gag order (which is why I can say all this now).

Michael spent the last nine months in jail. I hope he learned something in the midst of this mess. Whether or not he shot the victim is one thing. Did I help release a criminal to the streets? I hope not. If he was a criminal, I hope and pray he's not a criminal any more.

Fact is, there's lots of not-guilty people running the streets. Not innocent, but those who've been proclaimed "not guilty."


Robin Bayne said...

Drats, I can't have it now unless it's sugar-free. LOL

But thanks for saving me some : )

Robin Bayne said...

me again. . . the link is broken to my blog. should be

thanks : )

Rachel Hauck said...


Wow, I couldn't have convicted him either. Beyond a reasonabl doubt has to mean something.

I wish we could do lunch, too!