Through a Juror’s Eyes in the Criminal Justice System

“You Have Been Selected Through a Random Drawing to Serve as a Juror…” Part 2

Being selected as a juror and how to render a verdict of law and order in a criminal case
Jury Selection

Part 1 click link here

Through the eyes of a juror. Part 2

I was seated in the front row of the jury box amongst a mixed bag of chosen jurors ranging in age from 35 to 80; 5 females and 9 males. Alongside the jury box was an armed deputy and at the entrance to the court room was also an armed deputy. Sitting in the middle of the row gave me a view of the whole courtroom. As the charges were read to the courtroom, I tried to focus my view toward only the judge, and all the instructions that went along with the charges. For every charge there was a list of additional descriptions to determine a verdict of guilty. Such as intent and what is reasonable in order to find the defendant guilty of any of these charges. The list was drawn out.

The Defendants Charges

First-degree intentional homicide, child abuse, aggravated battery and first-degree reckless injury. My gaze wandered to the defendant. The stoic man with thin pale skin about 50 years in age looked front and center. No emotion, no expression came from his face. He sat hunched, leaning on the table between his attorney and another man to his left with a pen in his hand.
My stomach flipped when I heard the word homicide. My mind began to whirl about as the judge continued to speak. He concluded in saying that this man is innocent until proven guilty. And the juror’s job are the facts and that his job is the law.

The judge announced that we will now hear opening statements. No writing materials are provided at this point for what they have to say is not to be considered as evidence. The only evidence is the witnesses testimony and evidence the attorney will present. It is up to us as jurors to come to conclusion based upon only this. This was happening fast…as time seemed to not pass during the morning hours, we were proceeding at lightning speed.
First-degree intentional homicide was affixed in my mind. This man was charged with intent to kill and caused great bodily harm to a child, also a felony.

Law and order Jury Duty How to serve as a juror
Judge Jury Selection and the Gavel

There was no time to reflect of the felony charges.

Opening Statements

The DA rose, a slender alabaster skinned female approximately in her early 40’s arranged herself in front of us jurors behind a podium equipped with a microphone and began her opening statements clearly and with precision. She was working diligently with her crafted speech making direct eye contact with all 14 of us. She had obvious experience and knew where to emphasize the crucial points. Her opening, I must say was convincing, for her role was to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant was the perpetuator.

The well-groomed public defender slighted balding had his opportunity to state his case. His eyeglasses were on to read and off to peer into our eyes. This on and off again of his glasses was rather distracting. He noticeably practiced facial expressions and held them as a living statue does while performing. He was a seasoned attorney in his 60’s I presumed. His ebb and flow of his constructed statement seemed as if he missed his all his cues. His point was received, and his main duty was to create doubt. Reasonable doubt.
I was not to take into consideration in rendering my own verdict anything these two lawyers just discussed for over an hour. But how can you unhear what you have already heard. If we, as jurors, were admonished not discuss this case with others as to not be potentially influenced by a conversation, why does our court system allow opening statements, I wondered?

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

I reminded myself this man is innocent until proven guilty. He is charged with these four felonies but innocent. I reminded myself that I am to keep on open mind, and I needed to concentrate.

For those who are unfamiliar with my personality, they know me to be inquisitive, gregarious, intuitive and a detailed oriented well-organized person. I tend to be rather social and wear my emotions on my sleeve. I am expressive and a person with deep feelings. I now have been sworn to secrecy, told what not to say and who not to say it to. And look at “just the facts”!
The opening statements filled my mind with questions that seemed to bounce back and forth within my head. My body tensed. My fingers cold. But I sat still and kept my poker face. The judges voice of the charges came to the front of my mind. The defendant had been charged with intent to kill this young girl and caused permanent bodily harm; she lost an eye. This was remarkable. I tried not to fidget and to remain focused. As the thick binders of information on the DA’s desk sat with the details on this case tucked inside awaiting their debut, I now knew, this WAS serious!

“The state calls” …to be continued.

Leave a Comment