The Dumbest Trial of the Century has been discharged with a hung jury. Now that I’m free to talk about it, I’m going to vent.
First off, this was a bleeping marijuana possession case. The People contended that a substantial quantity of marijuana that had been found near, not in, the defendant’s apartment had been in the possession of the defendant. The People’s case had holes you could drive a truck through. The detective on whose uncorroborated testimony the prosecution’s entire case was based was caught in several, um, inconsistencies while he was on the witness stand.
Deliberations began yesterday morning. Just over an hour into the deliberations we took a vote — 11 not guilty, 1 guilty.
You can probably guess the rest. The one holdout wouldn’t budge, even though (after two full days of attempting to “deliberate”) he was unable to explain why he was certain the defendant was guilty. The fellow changed his “reasoning” several times over the past two days, but not his guilty verdict. Finally his “reasoning” devolved into guilt by association — drugs were found near (not in, remember) the defendant’s apartment. A Yonkers detective said the drugs belonged to the defendant. Therefore, the defendant was guilty.
And yes, the juror was an elderly white man, and the defendant was black (as was the prevaricating detective). Do I think racism was a factor? Hell, yes. But I suspect stupid was a factor, also — the juror lacked the mental capacity to understand abstract concepts like “burden of proof” or even “evidence.”
I was the jury forepersonlady, so the composition and rhetoric of notes sent to the judge were under my purview. I became so rattled I could barely crank out cohesive sentences, and I guess my last note (of about 4:50 pm today) was unhinged enough the judge took pity on us and declared a hung jury.
And here’s the kicker — as a clump of us jurors hustled out of the courthouse, we encountered the defense attorney. And he guessed without being told which juror was the problem. Apparently his client, the defendant, had been the one to insist that man be seated on the jury over the attorney’s advise otherwise. The defendant had a “feeling” about the juror, the attorney said.
There’s a moral here, somewhere.
And yes, I was terribly disappointed that I didn’t get to stand up in court and announce a verdict. I’ve always wanted to do that. It’s unlikely I’ll get another chance.
I’m going to get tipsy now. Regular blogging resumes tomorrow.