Since the whole country is reeling from the recent not guilty verdict handed down in the Caylee Anthony murder trial it got me reflecting on my own experience as a member of a jury. Like many of you, I received my notice for jury duty convinced that it would amount to nothing. And even if on the rare instance I was actually required to report for jury duty, I wouldn’t be chosen or the case would be dismissed. I planned on being back to work by lunchtime. The exact opposite happened. I was required to report, chosen and soon found myself as Juror #2 in a rape case that would last the duration of the week.
Initially I was not pleased. I didn’t want to miss a week of work, I wouldn’t be able to talk about the case with anyone, and I would have to dress up every day. There is no casual Friday in jury duty. But as I saw the Justice System at work and was able to take part I found the experience to be quite rewarding. I also really enjoyed having a room full of people stand up for me every time I entered or exited the room.
My personal opinion is that Casey Anthony is guilty, but I can see how a jury would come back with a non guilty verdict. Without compelling evidence and if there is even a shred of doubt, a jury has no choice but to let a defendant go free. This was how I approached my own experience. I listened to both sides and did my best to show no emotion, even though there were times I wanted to. Especially when the victim had to recount her experience. It was all I could do not to run up to the witness stand and give her a hug. But when it came time to deliberate I had to push my emotions aside and look at the facts only. Unfortunately for the defendant my fellow jurors and I found him guilty.
When it was all over we were able to spend a couple of hours talking to the judge and getting a history of the case. We were also able to talk to the lawyers and find out even more. The most rewarding part was being able to meet with the victim afterwards and see the relief on her face. I also was able to give her the hug I so desperately wanted to in the court room.