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rebbel's avatar

To those who have served juror duty, can you tell me about it?

Asked by rebbel (33424points) January 24th, 2012

In the Netherlands, as opposed to the United States, there is no juror justice system.
In On the case with Paula Zahn, which I am currently watching, a case is being shown where a convicted murderer got a second trial.
The jurors were deliberating for days and when they came out of their meeting into the court they were all visualy distraught.
They convicted the guy for the second time: guilty.
My questions if you feel like answering, I have no idea if this is too personal or not: Have you ever had to fullfill you juror duty, and if so, in what kind of case?
What was the conclusion and did you agree with the outcome?
Was it hard for you to decide on someone’s future and was it an experience that has left an impression?

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9 Answers

chyna's avatar

I served on a jury. The case was about two guys that were accused of killing a doctor that was paralyzed by moving his wheelchair away from him while sleeping in his bed and setting his bed on fire. They did this because the doctor found out they had stolen his prescription pads and were writing presriptions for narcotics and selling them. We were only hearing the case on one of the guys.
We did convict him of murder. It was very hard as this was a young man in his 20’s. We knew he could get 20 years to life in prison, but the evidence convicted him and we had to vote with the evidence. Two of the women cried after we voted, knowing this guy may never get out of prison. I felt bad also, but I knew we had made the right decision. He didn’t feel bad about murdering a paralyzed man by fire.
After the trial was over and I was able to read the news about it, I found out things that they would not allow in the trial that convinced me we voted correctly. He had stolen the doctors computer and sold it the same day they killed him. That proved beyond a doubt that he was at the scene of the crime.
This was very strange: Just as the judge read our verdict, the murderer slammed his fist on the table and the electric went out. There were no windows so we were in pitch black for about 1 minute until the lights came back on. It scared the heck out of me. What I found out later is that every cop in the court house drew his gun and ran for the courtroom, ready to fire. Also they took us out a back door in case the murderer had any “friends” waiting on us. I don’t want to do that ever again.
Sorry this is such a long answer.

saint's avatar

I have served on a jury. It was expensive, given the days I could not work, but it was a pretty simple task. Listen to the evidence, render a reasonable conclusion and judgement. In fact, the simplicity of it was sort of refreshing. Not too many other circumstances can you render an objective conclusion, state it, and get on with life.

Charles's avatar

I served on a jury. It was interesting. My employer paid my time there so there was no financial problem. We got a two hour lunch and I went on long bike rides.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I have served on civil cases (in other words, @rebbel , in case you don’t know the terminology, non-criminal cases, one party suing another for money or reparation of damages) and all of them were settled by the parties before the jury could deliberate. They were pretty boring, not at all like TV. I hope to never have to sit on a criminal jury, like @chyna , I would hate to be put in the situation she described.

6rant6's avatar

I have served on two juries, both as foreman, one civil and one criminal.

The criminal case was difficult because there were accusations of organized crime – gangs. And as a result, the penalties for the crimes were far more severe. The facts of the case were not really contested, but the meaning of them was. We had to figure out how much the actions of the defendants actually put the victims at risk.

Another element of the case was that the criminal acts appeared to be intended to intimidate someone who spoke out against the gangs. As a jury member, you obviously want to support a person who does that, but at the same time, you don’t want to be frightened into sending someone away for decades because some lawyer made a spurious connection.

We did find the defendants guilty on all counts. It was very solemn.

The civil case was hugely different. For starters, the judge was someone called back from retirement because the case backlog was so bad. He felt asleep several times a day. When a lawyer objected, he would wake up and rule, rather arbitrarily, it seemed. One attorney made the mistake of asking why he had been ruled against when everyone in the courtroom could see what the judge was doing. The judge got red-faced, and sputtered that he wouldn’t be interrogated by the attorneys. It did not help his case. Even before that event I’d concluded the plaintiff’s attorney wasn’t too bright.

One of the jurors got lost on the voting and thought he was voting for one thing when we were voting for another. As the foreman, I felt very bad about it. But he was the odd man out. The rest of that was an interesting and even enjoyable experience.

One of the plaintiffs was awful. She actually hissed out loud when someone said something she didn’t like. We eventually awarded damages to the plaintiffs, but everyone on the jury (well 10 out of 11) hated her so much that they got a mere pittance.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I served on a drunk driver jury. He had been drinking and cause an accident, and pled not guilty. We listened to both sides for most of the day. The prosecutor made a good case, and the defense pretty much said “everyone does it” and therefore we should let the guy off.

They took us to the jury room the next morning. We began discussing things and were pretty much in agreement after about an hour or so. It was, in my opinion, pretty much cut and dried. We all agreed he was guilty. Our disagreement was on how much was his fault and how much the other person.

We went back to the courtroom and our foreman (not me) announced our vote. We were gone by noon.

Kind of fun, but not a serious crime like murder.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s a bitch because you’re asked to pass judgement on another person. I’ve only been on criminal cases, moderate crimes, not muder, but who am I to make that call? If you serve you’ll know why some juries come back with not guilty decisions that make you shake your head.

zenvelo's avatar

I was on a jury for a week. It was Attempted Murder/Attempted rape/Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and false imprisonment. It was short because the woman who was attacked testified, but the defendant did not. His attorney tried to argue that he had not intended to try to murder the girl, and he let her go when she fought back.

But his intent was evident in that he had gotten a knife from the kitchen and was holding it over her while he tried to rape her. But she grabbed the knife, and despite her hand being cut she held the knife away. The reached out for something and conked him on the head. He freaked out and put her in his car, drove her to the hospital, and pushed her out of the car while driving past the emergency room.

The deliberation was less than six hours, and he was guilty on all counts.

The next day I read in the paper he had a string of prior rape convictions dating to when he was a teenager. If he had testified his record would have come up.

linguaphile's avatar

I was on a jury for a drug dealing case. It was a sting operation where undercover cops bought drugs with money marked with invisible ink, then the runner was followed until he met up with the supplier/dealer, who was the one on trial. We had to look at possession and intent to distribute.

It was not easy convicting him, even though the evidence was almost clear cut. The defense attorney argued that the chain of possession from the runner to the dealer couldn’t be proved and argued that the intent to distribute hadn’t been proven. The jury all agreed immediately on the possession charges but we took about 6 hours to decide the intent to distribute charge. The evidence and testimony could be interpreted different ways.

I remember becoming convinced both ways many times by both sides of the discussion. At the end, there was one lady who held out for a good hour. The rest of the jurors were really fair—they asked her to explain her thoughts so we could hear her perspective, but she couldn’t/wouldn’t and eventually voted with us.

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