OK, so jury duty only lasts a week, but it was a difficult cap to wear today. While the trial is over and I can freely discuss the case, I will not do that. However, I do want to address a few thoughts/experiences of the day. First, it was again illustrated to me why it is important to not make assumptions. After hearing the testimony and looking at all of the evidence, I was convinced that it was obvious that the defendant was not guilty. I assumed that everyone else on the jury saw everything the way that I did, and deliberations would be quick and painless. WRONG! In fact, I was in the minority believing that he was not guilty. Deliberations took several hours.
Second, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to serve with a group of intelligent, conscientious individuals. Even when our opinions on the defendant's guilt were completely at odds, everyone remained respectful and courteous while arguing their point of view. And, when things did not resolve quickly, and many individuals were concerned about their family obligations, not one individual in the room suggested that we come to a decision so that we could all go home. Everyone sincerely treated the decision before us with the gravity it required. I left today with a new respect for my fellow citizen.
Third, and most importantly, I was once again reminded of the awesome power of prayer. At one point, ten of the jurors had agreed that the defendant was guilty. The only ones who disagreed were myself and the gentleman next to me. After several hours of deliberation, it seemed that we were at an impasse, my head was throbbing, and I was beginning to think we'd be there all night. I quietly bowed my head and asked for God's guidance. I prayed that God would help me decide what to do....continue to fight for the not guilty verdict or change my vote. As I was ending my prayer, something one of the jurors said began to make sense. I can't even tell you what that thing was. All I know is that all of a sudden, I felt like I needed to change my vote. Just as I was getting ready to announce that fact, the gentleman next to me spoke up and said that he had also decided to change his vote. Again, as we were passing around the verdict slip to sign, I went to God in prayer that we were doing the right thing. I was so worried about sending an innocent man to prison. I was praying that God was helping us do the right thing. After delivering the verdict, the judge asked us to wait in the jury room for a few minutes. He came to address us and answer any questions we had. During this time, he confirmed that this man was a pretty scary fellow who had done quite a few awful things to the victim in the past, and today's trial was just one of a number of recent charges against this man. In other words, our guilty verdict had put a hateful, awful man behind bars for repeatedly and systematically victimizing a young woman.
I thank God for his guidance.