Monday, April 4, 2016

Jurors, Beware the World You're About to Enter

Mr. Everybody’s Business has concluded that being summoned as a juror for a criminal trial sure must be an enlightening experience for many of those called for duty. As a juror, one is exposed to the underbelly of society at times and jurors get a glimpse into the lives of others like they’ve never had before.
Montgomery County Courthouse 

After jury duty, perhaps many wish they hadn’t had that glimpse. I always say, “You can’t make this stuff up” and “It’s like nothing on television.”

There is a legal rule that defendants are entitled to a jury of their peers. Sometimes, I sit there in court, looking at the wide-eyed reactions of jurors to a witness’ statement and I think, “Wait a minute, these jurors don’t travel in the same circles as the defendant or the witnesses; how could they be peers?”

For example, at a trial last month before Judge Todd Eisenberg a man accused of sexual assault took the stand in his own defense and claimed to jurors he liked to play a game called “Follow the Porn,” during which he and his then girlfriend, the victim, would re-enact what they viewed in a pornographic video, implying he didn’t commit sexual assault.

I can only imagine what jurors were thinking. Perhaps, “Did I really just hear that said in public?” or “Too much information!” Incidentally, he was convicted.

During a trial before Judge Gail A. Weilheimer, jurors received an education on how to make a cocktail that has a very risqué name.  

One female who witnessed an alleged shooting testified she had been out at local clubs and had been drinking. Her drink of choice she said was “Red-headed Sluts.” She proudly proceeded to inform jurors it’s concocted with “Jagermeister,” peach-flavored schnapps and cranberry juice.

“What is that?” defense lawyer Benjamin Cooper pondered to jurors during his closing argument. “It didn’t sound too cool to me.”

Ditto, Mr. Cooper. Ditto.

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