Sunday, April 13, 2008

Juror #9

Juror #9 has finished his civic duty. I was one of the last of 45 potential jurors. Nine were picked and I was the last one picked. It was a three and a half day trial. It was the state vs. a know felon that had illegally possessed a gun. Looked like an open and shut case for the state and I wondered why it was not settled out of court. The defense attorney told us to keep an open mind and I believe I did. On the final day, the judge picked one of us jurors to be dismissed as the alternate. It was not me and we entered our room to deliberate.

I believe it was the first time I have ever held a handgun. We discussed all the evidence and in the end found that the felon was guilty as charged. Both parents and his sister broke down in tears at the verdict. He sat there and began removing his jewelry. He was just a bit younger than me, maybe around 35 or so.

We, the jury thought we were done when the judge, in her stern voice said that we had another thing to deliberate. I had told my fellow jurors that I was waiting for a twist the entire trial. This was it. In AZ if a felon has been convicted three times in less than 10 years, the jury has to decide if aggravating circumstances should apply. That's the three strikes rule and the sentencing judge takes into account all three convictions and the convicted will usually serve a lot more time than normal.

We heard expert testimony from a finger print tech. He verified that the prints from the first conviction matched the prints from the convicted felon. We, the jury, assembled once more in the jury room to deliberate. I looked at the finger prints and matched them up to the convictions and asked why we didn't have finger prints for the second conviction. If the state is using the prints to verify convictions one and three, why not two? The judge wouldn't help us. We were split 5-3, with me leading the way that the state didn't prove it's case. I truly believe the state should be held to high standards and this seemed to me that they didn't give us all the proof.

I believed the convict was the same in all three cases, but not 'beyond a shadow of a doubt'. We were confused and didn't know if the penitentiary finger printed repeat prisoners. Finally, I asked to be reminded what the defense attorney said to sway us. I remembered he said, 'please give my client the benefit of the doubt'. In other words he knew it was a moot point and we would find his client guilty of all three convictions. That convinced us three in doubt and we ruled that it was aggravating circumstances and that the judge should use the higher sentencing guidelines.

It's difficult being a jury, but I believe it's one way to do your civic duty. I'm more than willing to give up 3-5 days every four years or so. This is the second time I've been on a jury. I think we did our best to come up with two correct decisions. We, as a jury, also completed many Suduko puzzles and one crossword puzzle. I, was almost the jury foreman. I, lost out to another juror on the second round of rock paper scissors. He did a great job as the foreman.

During the trial, I was able to get one run in. The last two weeks I've done about 6.5 miles a week. Mostly, because I had to do my real estate work during lunch, in the morning and after work. It was a very trying (pun) week.

This week I hope to get my mileage up and to run in Pat's Run, a race to honor Pat Tilman, the ASU and Arizona Cardinal football player that lost his life in Afghanistan. It's a 4.2 mile run that finishes on the 42 yard line in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ. Should be a fun race and a PR, since I've never run a 4.2 mile race.

12 comments:

Irene said...

Thanks for doing your civic duty!

Jeff said...

Thanks for the blow by blow, Pat. I agree with you on the jury duty resposibility. We're asked to do so little as citizens (other than pay taxes, of course.)

Good luck getting the mileage back up.

Marathoner in Training said...

Thank you for doing your civic duty, the check is in the mail. Now you need to make up all those miles that you missed.

Dan Seifring said...

Good job with the trial Pat.

I have never held a "real" gun.

J~Mom said...

Wow Pat! Thanks for serving for us!!

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Nice work. Sounds like you were trying to do it the right way. Hope you can get back to your running.

Firefly's Running said...

You made a great decision based on the limited evidence on the second conviction. You read the letter of the law. It sucks that the convict did not get more time.

Darrell said...

Congrats on so conscientously performing your civic duty.

Good luck with the upcoming 4.2.

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Cheryl said...

Hey, what happened to juror #9? I hope "they" didn't get to you! Come on back, Pat. You are missed!

scott keeps running said...

i gave you a three star rating because you lost at paper rock scissors

lifestudent said...

I have always had the desire to serve on a jury. I know that in the event I do get called one-day, it wont be anything near as interesting of a case as you had ... but I still welcome the opportunity. Sounds like you got to experience the legal system first hand (and not from the point of view of the "accused"...which is a good thing!!!)