Archive for November 30th, 2010

November 30, 2010

Jury duty

by Neil Rickert

I originally posted this elsewhere, on Oct. 18th, where it was intended for family interest.  However, I keep seeing instances where officials are failing to use ordinary common sense.  So I am posting this here to illustrate the problem.

I was called for jury duty (for the county courts), and today was when I was required to show up.

Often what happens, is that you sit around for half a day waiting to be selected for a Jury, and then you are allowed to go home.  Either the parties to the law suit reach a last minute settlement so the trial is not held.  Or you are in a jury pool but not actually selected for a jury.

As it happens, today I was actually selected for a jury.  For a while, it looked as if I would not have to serve.  But the attorneys challenged several of the earlier jury choices, and I was selected as a replacement.

The actual court case was a puzzle.  I don’t mean that it was hard to understand.  Rather, I am puzzled that this was ever a court case.  It involved two charges of “domestic battery” against a woman, resulting from an altercation between she and her husband.  During that altercation,  she had apparently thrown an aluminum frying pan and that had caused injury to the husband, though the husband did not seek medical treatment for the injury.

In the jury room, after we had heard the evidence, there appeared to be a strong consensus that it would have been better if this case had never been brought to trial.  On an initial straw vote, there were 6 votes for conviction and 6 for acquittal.  After some discussion, we unanimously voted not guilty on both charges.  I suspect that the initial votes for conviction were because she had caused an injury.  The jury discussion centered on whether the prosecution had proved beyond a reasonable doubt, that the injury was not accidental with her throwing the pan only out of frustration.

The puzzle, for me, is why the prosecutors brought this case.  There are serious domestic abuse cases, but this was not one of them.  Surely, the prosecutors could have used some discretion, and suggested anger control counseling as a better alternative to holding a trial.  That’s your taxpayer dollars at work.