Jury Duty thoughts

Well, a week of jury service has my brain full of thoughts, none of which I could talk about until yesterday afternoon when we finished! It was a long week, some interesting, some boring, some just plain stressful!

The case I had was a federal case of possession with intent to distribute 115 kg (~250lbs) of marijuana. The trial was LONG! The lawyers from both sides brought up a lot of issues that didn't really relate at all. They also had A LOT of sidebars (more than usual apparently). It defiantly wasn't the fast moving type thing you see on TV.

The hard part was the deliberation time. The problem was it wasn't an easy case. What happened is the guy lives outside a little town down by the border. There is a wash(dry river bed) behind his house that is often used by people coming up from the border.

The border patrol was called in because there were reports of illegals in the area, and one of the agents and his dog found one group, then another guy off by himself. Then the dog alerted again and started heading towards the guys property. The border patrol asked to go on the property and the dog led them to a shed. There they found all the marijuana.

The guy said that he had gone out to feed his horses that morning and heard some people and yelled at them to get off his property. When he went to investigate, he found all the marijuana and loaded it into his wheelbarrow, in two loads, and hulled it to the shed and locked it in. Then he went back to his house and had breakfast. He said he was going to call the police, but the border patrol got there first, 2-3 hours later.

So the possession part of the marijuana was easy, sure he had it, he even admitted to that much. It was the intent to distribute part that was hard to decide. The problem was there weren't any hard evidence that he was going to distribute it, it was all circumstantial evidence. But in court, circumstantial evidence has the same weight at other evidence.

The problem was that 2-3 hour time break. If he was going to call the police, why sit down to breakfast and wait that long? There were also a couple other lies that he told, making him not the most reliable person in the world. Also, he had some illegals in his house, yet he yelled at the other guys to get off his property. He said that he had called the police before about some burlap bags on his property that people often use to transport drugs, yet this time, it was a LARGE amount of drugs, and he just sat down to breakfast. Just too much stuff adding up against him, so we ended up finding him guilty.

That was hard, finding him guilty. We just changed his whole life and the life of his family. He could go to jail for up to 20 years, although most likely it will be more like 18-24 months, and he will most likely be deported even though he is a permanent resident alien who has been here for like 20 years. Sure, I know he made the choices and all that, but it doesn't really make it a whole lot easier. And also the fact that it wasn't a simple decision to make. It was all circumstantial evidence which is harder to interpret. And the hardest part was walking into the courtroom to announce the verdict, to sit there and see the defendant and his family.

It was nice though because after the trial was over the judge invited us all into his chambers and we could talk to him and ask him whatever questions we wanted about the trial or the system or whatever we wanted. He did tell us that most cases are decided on circumstantial evidence and that helped a lot. And he was just a really nice guy all around. I think it helped to decompress a little bit before I left. It was nice to sit and talk a little bit instead of announcing him guilty and then just leaving, so that was cool.

Well, I'm not sure how many of you will have made it this far in this long and rambling post, but of well. It helped me to decompress some, so I'll go ahead and post it. If you have made it this far, thanks for reading! And read the next one, it has more of a point!

1 comment:

John said...

I must have been hard to make a decision of such weight. You did well.