As it seems I’m the guy that always gets called for jury duty. You may be called as often as 1 year. My schedule seems about like 2 years for the past 6 years. I have got picked on every jury and never rejected from a panel.
Here is my most recent fun, and I’ll start off saying while it’s a pan in the ass to do it, it’s always a good and interesting, possibly enlightening experience. Before anyone gets nervous I can freely talk about it since it’s over, and besides that Judge said we could.
The Case is in Los Angeles Criminal Court, Down Town Los Angles.
The Crime was a 211 Robbery. The crime was essentially a man robbed a woman a gun point, took her purse, iPhone and other loot. The crime took place in the Wilshire / Hollywood division areas. The case had the singe 211 charge of robbery.
Gal robbed at Gun Point
Took Purse, Keys, iPhone, and Jewelry then ran off. Neighbor heard scream for help and called 911. Once of the twists in the case was the iPhone had the installed location software and the ‘Vic’ tracked the phone so when the ‘PD’ arrived they were there within minutes. Perp apprehended and ID’ed by the lady. Seems pretty open and shut. Enter the Judicial system, and remember this is a good thing ‘You are presumed innocent until proven guilty’.
Here are some key points of the case –
Shaky ID (it’s been 2 years for the Vic) testimony so a bit trouble remembering
Description of ‘Black Hoodie’ or Hat confused some folks as the ‘Perp’ didn’t have it on him and not found in the apartment
One of the Officers testimony was so bad that we assumed he had either pulled a 24hr shift of was on drugs. The rest of the officers had reviewed the case and were well as prepared for court and deemed credible.
The defense’s case was that clearly mistaken identity, and while the ‘Perp’ did have some of the stolen merchandise (iPhone/Cash) on him the rest was in an apartment he was seen exiting he may admit to having the property but he wasn’t the guy that took it.
At one point it was discovered that a police report that the Defense had was different the the Prosecution, and in only one way, the Race was marked as ‘H’ for Hispanic and on the same one ‘W’ for white. No one could explain it, and this was by the not prepared cop. The second police mix up was the Gun. Seems that the gun, which actually was a REPLICA gun was destroyed by mistake. Likely since the case was happened over 2 years prior. Was all this important to the case? Not really when all said and done.
Defense raised some areas of reasonable doubt, and the prosecutor seemed to close them up pretty well. It made sense to me and here is what I thought –
The Id and having the loot alone was not solid enough for the Guilty verdict. BUT, the police were on his apartment so fast and catching him with the stolen phone and greenbacks it seems almost impossible that he could have found, or by other means got the phone other then by taking it. Another words it didn’t at all seem possible that someone else with the same description too the property and by mistake this guy had it in such a short time. The cash on hand was another problem for everyone. While it was clear that the cash could not be positively id’ed, the amount was close, and if the ‘perp’ did buy stolen goods why would he have the same amount of cash, as the ‘guy’ that could have stole it would surely keep that part and give it to the ‘Perp’. Confusing? Yes, but after days of deliberations the doubters and other came to a solid conclusion, including the lady that didn’t know that we had to have a unanimous vote to convict or free the alleged.
Day 7 people really got the pictured, and as jurors did a good job at talking about the doubts, the fears of making a mistake and discussion each persons questions and making sure we all understood the facts, the evidence and the most problematic ‘Circumstantial’ evidence. We read the jury instructions many time to make sure we were clear. But alas we had once person that would not be convinced and that’s OK if the reasons are right for it. Everyone understood that and part of the exercise was to tell why you think he is guilty or why you think he is innocent. People really stepped up to make sure they were clear and heard. It was the system working well. Enter the ‘Lady’…
“The Lady”, likely in her late 60’s was a chatter box from day one, would not stop commenting and talking about everything that she had done, people she know, just had a comment about everything! I began to drive people a bit nuts, and this was before, during and after the trial proceedings. I wanted to just yell out SHUT UP! I think many others did to. Comments like I don’t take notes I just listen, She is a liar (the lady that was robbed), I listed and Prayed to God every day for this man, but the best one was I just think he didn’t do it was the one that pushed me and most other jurors over the edge. It was like a dog pile and I think people felt insulted as how hard we all (11 of us) worked to vet the facts and make a logical conclusion, I did anyway.
Being on several jury before I seem to fall into the Foreman role, more by default as I have a problem with no one jumping in, so I usually get to do it. How to handle this? Difficult, people were very respectful up to this point, but if you were a fly on the wall you saw the most timid jumping in with comments as ‘are you kidding’ to what I said was you choice to your decision is yours, however if you don’t do it by the rules of the court (read repeatedly) they you are doing a huge disservice to the people of Los Angeles, the people in the room and the judicial system in general. Dead silence from every one except for “The lady” who was still rambling how Police lie… People were nodding as everyone wanted to say it, but I got to due to my long burning fuse that finally burnt out.
Now what? Will 11 Guilty and people feeling confidant and 1 Not Guilty we were dead in the water. We called the bailiff and said we were stuck. Didn’t know what to expect since with reasonable people the case usually settles from some indecision to very polarized one way or the other. That was almost the case here.
The Judge was very understanding and was guessing their was trouble as the case was a single charge of robbery and didn’t expect it to be too long. She asked if their was anything the court could do short of reopening the case to help, and I wanted to say ‘You can’t help stupidity your Honor’ but the answer was just a frustrated ‘NO’.
We were released at that point, and gathered our belongings and left. I had forgot my case in the jury room as a few others and people were blown away as to the illogical treatment for something as serious as a persons freedom or letting a criminal out on the street.
I think 11 people really stepped up, put their personal feelings and beliefs aside and did a great job only to have one person take all that work and trivialize it because of stubbornness and yes I’ll say it… ignorance.
That’s my 7 days in court, with 2 of them for jury selection.
The next post will be the mess of Jury Selection, and I can tell you some people are worthless as they try to come up with excuses to get out of Jury duty.