I read an article in my hometown newspaper today about juror misconduct leading to the guilty getting away with crime.
In one case the jury had deliberated for 2 hours and decided to take a break. Juror #12 never returned, the entire trial was over with no verdict, a mistrial. Now the state has to decide whether to spend the states resources to prosecute or cut the accused a deal. I am betting on the latter because that is what happened in another case of juror misconduct.
In the second case the accused was charged with a sex crime against his own daughter. The juror decided to conduct his own internet research on the nature of these cases at home during the trial. This effort to enhance what competent evidence was adduced at trial cost the state the verdict and meant the 6-year-old would have to testify all over again. After all the man has a right to face his accuser, twice it seems.
Instead the guilty plead to a lower charge and will spend about a third of the time in prison he would have otherwise spent.
We doctors of the law spend a lot of time with the Rules of Evidence. We are careful about making sure the evidence is trustworthy, and candidly, we don’t really need any help. Some of the least trustworthy evidence I have seen is what someone decides to post on the internet, free from the vigor of cross-examination.
Like the Rules of Evidence, our system of laws has been developed over generations to be as fair and competent as possible. We need 12 good citizens to believe in that system and make a decision based on what they hear.
But good citizens seem to be in short supply. We are apparently so full of our rights we need not care about our civic duties.
Meanwhile I hope Juror #12 had a good afternoon because no one else did, she never returned and her fate is yet unlearned. It is good I am not deciding what to do about Juror #12.