Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Judging The Guilty

Last month (April) I went through the jury selection process and became Juror Number 7. I allued to that in my post of April 10, 2007, Juror Number Seven

Some people may regard jury selection as a bore, but I considered it to be exciting and rewarding. I had been waiting all my adult life to get to the juror’s box! I didn’t get to serve on a high profile trial (and in some ways I am glad about that after the fact), nevertheless, serving on a jury is mentally exhausting. The defendant, a convicted felon, was charged with possession of a fire arm and resisting a police officer.

During jury selection, I was surprised at the excuses prospects gave to the judge in order to get excused from serving. The excuses ranged from “I’m too old, I have a disease, I cant’ hear, I have already made up my mind” and one guy could only come on Thursday.

When asked if she had any preformed opinions of the defendant, juror number 12 said, “Once a felon, always a felon”

“Bailiff, call the next juror.” barked the judge.

When questioned if he had ever had an experience with a gun, juror number 11 said "My dad shot me when I was 16."

“Did he miss?”, asked the judge. It was obvious the judge had a sense of humor. This trial may not be too boring after all.

The story goes that on a Sunday morning the defendant, Roger, was jogging in a dangerous part of North Richmond near a public park. Sgt. Townsend, who had been on the same beat for thirteen years, and his K-9 dog Arrow, was driving around North Richmond also, searching for a dangerous felon by the name of Leroy who was wanted on a federal warrant and had been reported to be in the same vicinity. Everyone on the street knew who Sgt. Townsend was. Also Roger and Leroy looked uncannily similar from a distance and they each had a record of felony arrests.

Sgt. Townsend stopped his patrol car about 30 feet from Roger, when he saw him with his shoulder hunched down and his head leaning inside the window of a car occupied by a young woman. Sgt. Townsend stopped his car, and opened the door. His 6ft 4 inch frame uncoiled from the patrol car as he yelled to Roger: “Hey You, come over here.” Roger glanced over his shoulder at the Sgt. and turned back around to resume what ever he was doing.

Sgt. Townsend bellowed: “I said, come over here, I’m talking to you!”

Roger stood up straight, turned around and angrily shouted “I ain’t got nothin’ to say. F U”. Roger proceeded to walk backwards slowly with his hands up in classic arrest style, toward the park. When his feet hit the grass he turned and began to run.

Sgt. Townsend jumped in his car and drove right over the sidewalk into the park and chased Roger up to the museum. Townsend, called for backup because he couldn't catch Roger without leaving his car and a K-9 officer never leaves his dog unattended.
Roger ran around the building and by a large trash can. Sgt. Townsend wrote in his report that he saw Roger drop a dark object into the trash can. Further, Townsend reported that when he went to the trash can he saw a semi automatic pistol lying on top of the garbage. Later, when Roger was caught, the police realized he was not the suspect they had been looking for but nonetheless, Roger had ran and drew suspicion upon himself.

Open and shut, right? No. There were no fingerprints found on the gun although Sgt. Townsend admitted he had picked up the gun with his “bare hands” and layed it on the floor of his patrol car. We all suspected Roger was guilty but the lack of fingerprint evidence was overwhelming because the fingerprint expert was unable to establish a reason for not finding any prints anywhere.

Anyway that is my story and I’m sticking to it.

Saturday I will discuss the jury deliberation experience.

Write it down,