Sunday, October 2, 2016

GUILTY!

It's finally over. Guilty on all counts. Justice is served--or is it?   

Have you ever served on a jury? It sounds interesting, doesn't it? Maybe even fun. Excused from work for an easy day or two of sitting around doing nothing. It isn't until you get into a trial that you realize it isn't as easy as it appears. The good guys don't wear white hats; the bad guys don't have squinty eyes. It isn't like in the movies where everything suddenly becomes crystal clear, and you get a feeling of satisfaction as the credits roll (or as the verdict's read). The reality hits hard. These are real people, not actors, and your decision will have a tremendous effect on their lives.

When a jury announces its verdict, everyone assumes they all agreed--correct? Not necessarily. After hours of deliberation, we twelve did finally agree. We told the judge, the plaintiffs, and the defendants we had reached a unanimous decision, but what we didn't say was that each one of us compromised a little in order reach a decision that was acceptable to all twelve.

In the end the plaintiffs won their case by the preponderance of the evidence; however, I believe they lost as well. Some jurors thought the plaintiffs deserved damages in an amount greater than was awarded; others thought they deserved nothing. How can that be? We all heard the same witnesses and saw the same evidence. How could we view the situation in such different light?

As we filed back into the courtroom, I don't think any one of us was thrilled with the outcome. We discussed the evidence and came to a decision we could all accept. We voted our conscious. We decided the defendant was ultimately responsible, but not necessarily guilty; the plaintiffs proved their case but were not necessarily victorious. Confusing? You bet your life--or in this case money. After all was said and done, the attorneys were the only winners.

What did I learn from this experience? If I decide I want to sue someone, I plan to think again and perhaps see if we can't work something out. My advice? If you think you want to sue someone, see if you can't come to an agreement instead. I doubt everyone will be pleased with the terms, but trial results probably won't make everyone happy either.

A few parting words of wisdom:  "When you go into court, you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty."   ~Norm Cosby



10 comments:

  1. I've never served on a jury and have no desire to do so. My ex-husband served once and thought it was a nightmare. Law suits are misery, but unfortunately, sometimes the only way to work out a problem. It's not something I'd jump into without making a lot of effort to find a better solution.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I agree with you, Janie, and your ex was right--it was a nightmare. I hope I never have to do it again.

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  2. Sounds a bit like my jury duty experience. We found for the defendant, but there were a few on the jury who thought the plaintiff was more believable. Glad you're done now.

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    1. I think getting twelve people to agree on anything is nearly impossible. The only thing we unanimously agreed on was that we wanted to stay as late as necessary to reach a verdict so we didn't have to come back the next day.

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  3. I was part of a jury on a drunk driving case many years ago. It was an interesting experience, but with the cop's car camera filming the incident, the decision wasn't hard to make.

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    1. Those cameras are so helpful in capturing the truth. I'm glad you had video to help with the decision.

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  4. I haven't ever been part of a jury- but it definitely sounds interesting. It is something to think about that the jurors hear the same information, but think differently about it. Your advice sounds good to me. Thanks for sharing. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Maybe you'll get a chance to find out one day. Hopefully, it won't be on a trial that goes on forever...

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  5. That last quote is pretty good! Did you see the clip from the TV network ID about jury duty? The woman is celebrating getting called to jury duty because she's a HUGE crime fan. Little does she know... Here it is!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bUef9ddp6E

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  6. Funny! I bet she'd be a nightmare for her fellow jurors.

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