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Interesting questions, but I wouldn't read too much into the jury interactions. I was on a jury just under 2 years ago, that had a similar racial makeup to yours (but 12 deliberating jurors, not 8 like yours), with the added layer that the majority of the jurors were not just white, but between the ages of 27-35. It was a complex case, involving multiple counts of attempted murder, carjacking, gun charges, and the added layer of an insanity defense.

Before we began deliberations we were pretty careful about not talking about the case, so as we began deliberations I was worried that some of the things you raised would happen. I was pleasantly surprised that they did not. To a person, every member of the jury had paid close attention, was quite clear in their thinking and reasoning, and really seemed to making an effort to be as fair as possible. Of course life experience and subjectivity came into play at some level, we were all people still. But I think everyone was impressed by the care that the others took to be sure we were doing things the right way.

An attorney I know said that his experience with juries is that they often go one of two ways- either everyone comes together and works really well together (like mine), or people are divided, and retreat to their regular thinking, and it becomes quite contentious. My suspicion is that things other than race and class often determine which way they go- how ready people are to make the time commitment, their general ability to concentrate (watching testimony can be very difficult over long periods of time, it can be very boring and repetitive), and other factors. Not to say race and class issues wouldn't necessarily be the dividing line- I am sure they are at times. But other basic human issues are a huge part of the equation.

By the way, the attorney described the united juries as having a "civic glow" because they were so proud of themselves and their role in the system. We definitely felt that a bit, I think.

by DCJoe on Feb 21, 2013 3:03 pm • linkreport

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