Saturday, September 3, 2011

Juror #2

I received a summons in the mail for Jury Duty back in March, but you could postpone for 2-6 months so I took advantage of that. Last Monday, August 22nd, was my re-summons date for jury duty at the NY Supreme Court. I spent most of the day sitting in the jury room and my name was never called...which was fine with me. I had my computer with me, and now that I do online scrapbooking I was able to work on my scrapbook - not a bad gig for a Monday :) About 3pm, the juror clerk stated that they just received a request for 66 jurors for a criminal trial. My name was one of the last called. Once we were all seated in the courtroom, my name was the third called to go into the jury box for questioning (the official term for this I learned is voir dire). There were 20 of us in the jury box at that time for questioning, which took up the remainder of the afternoon. We were told to report back at 10am the next day.

The next morning, I was sworn in as juror #2 for this criminal case. The trial didn't actually start until Thursday morning, as they still had to go through the jury selection process.

It was actually a short trial, lasting only from Tuesday through the next Wednesday (with Monday off due to Hurricane Irene). Also, some days we were only in the courtroom for an hour or two - a lot of the day was just spent waiting. As I stated above, it was a criminal trial for domestic violence and harassment. The couple had met in college back in 2005, and were in a dating relationship for 3 years. Things went downhill, and ultimately they broke up. However, the guy would not stop contacting this woman to the point of calling her multiple times per day (sometimes 60 calls in 2 hours), sending emails stating that he was going to kill her, and waiting outside of her apartment for her. He would go back and forth from harrasing her to apologizing. Anyway, he had already been on trial back in December 2009 and was found guilty on 6 counts.

On the day of his verdict (12/9/09), he signed an order of protection stating that he was not to contact his woman at all. The very next day, he called her at work 3 times and asked her to meet him at the courthouse to ask the judge for leniency. That is what he was on trial for this time - the phone calls to her on December 10th. During the course of the trial we had the court police officer testify that he saw this man sign the order of protection, we had the NYPD testify that he arrested this man on December 10th after the phone calls were made, the woman testified, the court clerk testified regarding the order of protection and the Verizon Wireless representative testified that the phone calls were made.

Throughout the trial I had no idea why we were even going through this trial as the defense counsel was admitting that the phone calls were made and the defendant had even sent a letter to previous judge stating that he had violated the order of protection. However, once the judge gave us the indictments and went through the areas where we need to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt it got a little more tricky.

The 4 areas were:
1) That there was a duly signed order of protection in place.
2) That the defendant violated that order of protection.
3) That the defendant did not contact the person protected for any other purpose than legitimate communication.
4) That the intent of the defendant was not to harrass, assault, threaten or alarm the protected person.

When we went to deliberations, there were 7 of us saying guilty and 5 saying not guilty. Everyone agreed that he was guilty on the first 2 points, but the second 2 points is where we were divided. I was arguing guilty as I stated asking for leniency was not legitimate communication, especially since this woman just testified in court against him 2 days prior. Also, I stated that intent had to be measured by actions. This guy had to have known he was going to alarm her if he called her.

Deliberations went on Tuesday afternoon, and the judge told us it was time to leave and we would continue in the morning. The next morning, we decided to ask the judge what was meant by "purpose of legitimate communication" and what the legal definition of intent was. The judge stated that legitimate communication was any communication that was not threatening. We then asked to hear the woman's testimony re-read to us, and she was asked a question by the defense attorney: "Was there anything threatening in those phone calls?" Answer: "No." Based on that we could not find this guy guilty on the third point, and we all came to a verdict of not guilty.

I still think this guy is a creep and I wish that we could have found that he was guilty. I then started thinking that this girl has not made the best choices either, and why did I spend over a week of my time trying to figure out these people's problems. Also, there was so much government spending on this trial - the judge, the defense attorney, the district attorney, 3 police officers since this guy was currently in jail from his previous trial, the court reporter, 2 court officers and the bailiff. No wonder the U.S. is in so much debt!

Anyway, it was an interesting experience and now I don't have to be called for jury duty for about 6 years.

1 comment:

Mom said...

this is how our tax dollars are spent??? Makes you so mad--