Wednesday, October 29, 2008
what i learned in jury duty
i was chosen to serve on a 2nd degree murder trial and prior to this, i had no idea that a conviction of second degree murder holds a mandatory life sentence. that's it, no parole or time off for good behavior. this disturbs me some what. i can totally see it from the victim's perspective, that once the life is taken, there are no more second chances. yet i wonder if it is in society's best interest to show no leniency. if the perpetrator is 18 when the murder is committed, should that person warrant a life sentence? the trial disturbed me greatly and on many levels but what i had the most trouble with was the responsibility of it all. if i was wrong and voted not guilty, then a potential violent offender was once again loosed on the streets to do it again. but what if i voted guilty and the young man really was innocent and convicted, locked away for the rest of his life. i understand that this process is the fairest and that if i support the notion of a trial by ones peers, then it is my civic duty. having said that, i hope to never serve again. i am glad the process exist but i lost nights of sleep over it and still wonder if justice was served. in the end, i voted not guilty because i think that careless police work left more than reasonable doubt in my mind but the majority voted for a guilty verdict. the verdict was guilty and so a young man is going to jail for the rest of his life and now the potential of two people has vanished. it is one thing to vote your conscience but quite another to cave under pressure of wanting to go home. when we began our deliberation, we were 6 guilty and 6 not guilty. as the clock ticked by, the desire to go home increased and one by one they slipped over into guilty. i hope i am wrong and that in the end, the guilty verdict was what they truly believed. still...i can't stop thinking about the parties involved. the man shot to death. the victim's girlfriend. the young man who will never again see anything but the gray of prison walls. damn, just damn.
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