Watching the beginning of the impeachment trial last night reminded me of the time I had jury duty and was seated on a jury. It was a long time ago. My 24 year old son was a baby. I’m disappointed I haven’t been called again. Here is my trial story.
When I was called for jury duty I was working almost full time at the jail. When I told them I was called for jury duty they assured me I would be excused because I worked in a jail. I was sure I would have one day at the courthouse and then I would be back at work. It didn’t work out the way we expected.
I reported to the courthouse and for an hour or so I just sat in a room reading a book. My number was called and I went into the courtroom with the other potential jurors. The trial was an attempted murder trial. They started asking all of the questions for voir dire. They didn’t ask about corrections. They did ask if anyone was in law enforcement and one woman raised her hand. She was a US Marshall. They called her forward, asked her some questions, and both attorneys agreed to leave her on the jury. I assume my jail job would not have been worse to them than that.
The basics of the case – the defendant had been in an altercation earlier in the day of the incident. Later that night, he was outside a club and saw the person he fought earlier approaching with several other people. He pulled a gun and fired in their direction hoping to scare them away and hit someone in the leg. He was charged with attempted murder, reckless endangerment, and illegal possession of a firearm. There might have been other charge, but those are the main three I remember.
The trial started and I was struck by how bad both lawyers were. I guess a case like this does not get the local superstar attorneys. The opening statements sounded like me when I did oral reports in high school. The case the state presented was terrible. I don’t recall the specifics because I’m old, but I do know that in my mind they never even proved the guy ever fired the gun. They never even addresses the gun charge at all. There was no evidence or testimony in the case that showed me he did not have the legal right to possess the gun. It was like the prosecution thought we would convict because he said so. The defense attorney was just as bad. While I was thinking “I see no proof this guy ever fired a gun” the defense attorney said he fired the gun, There goes me arguing that point in the jury room The terrible attorneys finished the case and we retired to the jury room for deliberations.
The jury had a nice mx of people. There was 2o something me. The marshal who was maybe early 30’s. A young black man. A couple of older white women. The ret I can’t remember because the four of us were the vital pieces in the room. The two old women immediately started in on questioning why the guy was out that late in the first place. We shut that down quickly. His being out late at night had no bearing on the case. They said he should have just run away. We countered with the fact that he could have been shot in the back. Or maybe there was no place to run. We discussed the fact that there was no evidence that he was illegally possessing the gun so we didn’t couldn’t find him guilty of the crime. We discussed his intent. Was he trying to murder someone? Was he trying to shoot someone or just scare them away? We finally settled on finding him not guilty of attempted murder. We did find him guilty of reckless endangerment since he fired a weapon at a group of people. We went back to the courtroom and the results were read. The judge looked so confused when we said not guilty of the gun charge that the woman reading the decisions tried to start an explanation and he cut her off telling her he just wanted the decisions, not he reasoning. I don’t know what the final result of the sentencing was.
It was an interesting couple of days. I was there long enough to have lunch, dinner and then lunch again. Even though the attorneys were bad, I enjoyed the trial process. The jury arguments were interesting and I was glad there was a good mix of people on the jury. Had it been more people like the older women who wanted to judge him for his lifestyle and not the facts of the case the prosecutor might have gotten his wish that they convict just because the state said to.
I’m always annoyed when people get called for jury duty and try to get out of it. If regular people try to avoid it we might get more juries full of the older people from my jury who have no reason to avoid it. It was interesting. It was better than being at work. I got to eat a good burger at restaurant in Annapolis for lunch. What can you hate about all of that?