Texan99 commented below how difficult it is to get some potential jurors to understand that the trial is going to be about whether the accused actually committed the crime, not whether the act is a crime serious enough for punishment. My wife recently finished jury duty, and noted that other jurors were distracted by how difficult it was going to be for the young woman who caused the accident to pay the damages. In my own experience over twenty years ago, I felt the jury had come to the correct conclusion but was uneasy about how they had arrived there. The prosecution had to prove three things about him, and all had to be in place to convict. I felt the first two were adequately proven but the third one was doubtful. I also felt the man was guilty but the prosecution hadn't done its job proving it. One bit of physical evidence hinged on whether he had given a false ID (an expired Maryland driver's license) to the officer who stopped him at a club. It had a different first name than his - he said it was his middle name.
So lets get to the bottom of that Mr. prosecutor. Do the birthdates match up? Is there a birth certificate to check this? I was pretty certain he had borrowed an older brother's or cousin's ID in order to get into clubs. But the prosecutor hadn't followed up on this.
My co-jurors believed the prosecutor had not proven any of the three pieces and that the policeman was just trying to hassle the boy, so all subsequent accusations should be disregarded. It was disquieting, but I felt the correct overall verdict had been reached.
My second case was going along uneventfully until the information came out - who from I don't recall - that the defendant had moved to a town in Florida several years before and had gotten in trouble for stealing a car. The town and the incident rang in my head, and I realised he had been my patient at the hospital just after that time. Because he had been cleaned up for court and his name was unremarkable I hadn't recognised him. I passed a note to the bailiff, everything came to a halt, the jury was taken to another room and I was separated from them. I told the judge my story and that I could no longer be objective, because I knew the man had lied frequently while with us. The judge told me I had done the right thing and I was asked to exit out a back door.
Juries in the very old days in England were locals who knew the events and could present them to the king as he went on rounds passing judgement. We have come far from that. Is this really as good a system as we were raised to believe?
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