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guilty

By 9:47 PM

The entire room voted guilty and I was still undecided. So typical.

Actually, there was a little old Latina lady at the other end of the table who believed the defendant was not guilty, not because she believed he was innocent, but because she didn't want to hurt his feelings by voting guilty. She also stated in her broken English that she didn't understand most of what was going on throughout the trial, so her vote was a bit shaky. Those weren't the same issues I had. I believed he was guilty of the crime, but the prosecution did not prove so beyond a reasonable doubt, so I was holding up the process.

They weren't 11 angry jurors, but I could feel the slightest pressure building around me as they asked for the third time, "So, how are you feeling now?".
I saw the defendant in the hallway the very first day, before I even knew who he was. There are multiple trials occurring up and down that corridor, so he could have been anybody to any one of those trials. But I remember thinking to myself "he doesn't have a snowflake's chance in hell", purely on a hunch. And only when I walked into the courtroom did I see him seated next to the defense attorney and knew he was our defendant. However, that's not how this system works, not on hunches. So, I was keeping 11 people from leaving the courthouse until I could get to a place beyond reasonable doubt.

One man kept saying during deliberation, "If he gets away with it this time, what's he going to do next?" How big of a cliché are you, mister.

This was solely based on his assumption that the defendant was guilty and that the officers were telling the truth. And he was jumping to all sorts of conclusions based on those assumptions. I tried to tell him that that's not how the judge instructed us to deliberate, and that we have to set aside personal feelings and only use evidence presented, but his mind was already made up.

I'm not a goody-two-shoes. I don't always follow the rules - taking this photograph was a violation, but I did it anyway, because I wanted it for this post. But I also took this case seriously. I took notes, while some of my fellow jurors took a catnap. A young web designer slapped her hand on the table and said "I know how I'm voting!" the moment we sat down to talk for the first time. I don't think that the police officers are liars, nor do I think that the defendant is one. Each of them made a mistake or two that inhibited settling out of court, which then brought this case to trial.

In the end I reached my verdict and he was found guilty. Everybody went home a little later, but I don't think they resented me for it. Sentencing will be next month.

If anything, we're putting the attorneys on trial, even though the defendant receives the brunt of their performance, good or bad.
The system seems flawed, but it is undoubtedly better than most.

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