This is a fascinating look at a trial from a juror’s perspective: hearing the evidence, trying to balance all the factors and evidence in coming to a decision, and watching the legal system at work. Perhaps of particular interest to me as a Law and Justice student, but the kind of thing that I think would be interesting no matter what.
These are the facts we were given as a jury, facts upon which we were to decide if a boy was guilty of a crime that would put him in prison for 10 years. We were admonished to consider all of the facts but nothing outside of them. Don’t consider the sentence, or the age, or the race, or anything unrelated to what we heard while sitting in the juror box. Just focus on the facts that are presented. Yet, we were also told, time and again, that our Constitution is absolutely unwavering in its mission to protect the innocent, that no matter how clear-cut the evidence may seem, the burden of proof in criminal cases always, always, always falls on the prosecution. The boy sitting in that chair next to a pair of public defenders, possibly wearing borrowed clothes to look presentable in court, is innocent until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
All I could think as I walked to my car after being excused was this: from chaos comes order. This system that we look at and think that it’s in disrepair, that nobody can possibly fix it or in which you have “activist judges” on one side and uncaring, throw-the-book-at-them judges on the other side just isn’t a fair characterization. What you truly have is a proverbial sausage factory: it’s incredibly messy, nothing seems to make sense, nothing looks good or reasonable or even real, but at the end of the line there is something like justice. It doesn’t always look right. It doesn’t always feel right. It doesn’t even always taste right. But it’s at least palatable. And no matter how it is, it’s never for a lack of sincerely trying.