On Being a Jury Foreman, and The Zimmerman Jury.

In 1983 I was selected as Foreman, now Foreperson, of a twelve person jury in a rape case. The defendant was black and the victim white. The first vote, taken soon after reviewing the jury instructions, was 7-5  guilty. As the two days wore on, descriptions of evidence and testimony were exchanged. Every word spoken and every exhibit shown in the trial was recalled by one or several jurors. The accused took the stand and was fairly credible as he tried to convince us that the sex was consensual. The most damning evidence was a throw away comment by the defense lawyer that “although he had a case of beer to drink that day, he was not drunk at the time of the rape.”

It so happens that one of the jurors had recently attended Family Week at an alcohol rehabilitation clinic and computed the consumed alchohol. It was her view that the accused was drunk at the time of the attack, hence, his credibiltiy was doubltful. We took a vote and it was 11-1.

The hold out was a school teacher. He and I had a private meeeting and he told me, “I know the accused had raped the victim but I just can’t send him to prison.” I told him, “you are simply finding fact here. If you say he is guilty, you don’t send him to prison, the Judge does, or not.”
He then voted guilty and the verdict was announced, It later turned out that the rapist  had a prior conviction for rape and was on a release from prison.

So how does this apply to Zimmerman. The jury there is being very carefull. They have recently asked to have Manslaughter explained to them. As that is the second charge to their verdict form, I assume they have moved past second degree murder. That doesn’t mean they were unanimous on that issue, just that they couldn’t agree there. Of course, if they were unanimous on the first count, that means self defense is being applied.
There may be a hold out here who is saying “A person is dead, someone should be punished, even though the self defense defense exonerates Zimmerman.

We are all waiting for the verdict, but when it comes, remember that every iota of evidence has  been examined in great detail and the judge’s instructions followed diligently. Juries are  amazing fact finders, I sort of wish there were twelve of them in this case, however.

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