Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Capital Crimes...(this is rated R).

I got excused from the jury today - the defendant (46 years old) is charged with raping and murdering 2 women - one, aged 53, in 1983 and the second, aged 23, in 1986. He was charged now because he was recently picked up by the cops on a parole violation related to his 1999 manslaughter conviction (male victim) at which time a DNA sample was taken which matched DNA found on the two cold case victims (I do not know why no DNA prior).

I do not know why I was not selected for the jury - maybe because I have a (approx. 53 year old) wife and a (approx. 23 year old) daughter (the defense would not like that) - on the other hand, if you eliminate women or people who are close to women its gonna be a pretty limited jury pool - or maybe I was objected to because I am a lawyer (those facts emerged during the voir dire). The woman sitting directly behind me started to sob uncontrollably when she was being questioned saying that she could not bear to sit through a trial involving violence because she was one of the people abducted in Mumbai last November. She pretty much broke down and was escorted out by the court officer. Of the 24 prospective jurors in the first group, only 3 made it to the jury.

I had not seen the local paper this morning but there was an article about the case (that is how I know about the 3rd murder which was not told to the jury pool and presumably is why the defendant is unlikely to testify) which is expected to last 3 weeks and the jury pool was told that if no decision is made in one day of deliberation they will be sequestered. I think the weirdest single moment for me today (and this is saying a lot because I found the whole thing disturbing) was that when I answered affirmatively to the question about being able to be unbiased and open minded in deciding the facts and that I would not presume anything if the defendant did not testify on his own behalf (adding that I recognized the seriousness of the responsibility of serving as a juror in a capital case), the defendant (who pretty much sat stone faced through the proceedings until that point (no shoelaces, no belt, by the way) looked right at me and nodded when I answered. I had the impression that he sensed some sort of sympathetic nature in me. What does this mean?

It was also interesting to chat with a fellow jury pool member during the wait. He is a 43 year old army reservist in the medic division (he had taken a nursing class in college) who did an 18 month tour in Iraq and is headed for Afghanistan in a few months. He was at Abu Garib and when I asked about that he said that the thing people in the US do not realize is that Iraqi prisoners there "liked to have their pictures taken sucking each others penises". I said I found that hard to believe and anyway why were the guards taking the pictures? (whether the prisoners liked sucking each others penises or not.) He said that everyone had cameras there so they just took pictures of what was happening. I decided not to pursue that line of conversation any further and so steered the subject to how he ended up in the US (he is from Kingston, Jamaica and came to the US when he was 15). He now works for the MTA as a station agent. He was excused from the jury too.

By the way, the book the book I brought with me to read during the down time was "Interviews With Hideous Men" by David Foster Wallace.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Add to Technorati Favorites