Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Never Ask Me How Long the Jury Was Out

I'm just as guilty of it as the next lawyer. We see our colleagues in their office biting their nails or aimlessly looking through files. The lawyer had just finished their closing statements and the court had instructed the jury on the legal charges, sending the jury to perform their sworn duty.

Every few minutes a well-intentioned co-worker pops their head in and asks, "What time did the jury get the case?" or "How long have they been out?"

When asked, I answer quickly and tersely, hoping to cut off further conversation. During my last trial, someone even asked me how I felt about the length of deliberations. My answer, "Worse every minute they are out." The questions are meant to be supportive or to strike up a conversation so that we can discuss the case. But it is the last topic I want to engage in while the jury is deliberating. Talk to me about anything else--sports, the weather, the stock market, a crazy conspiracy theory about the JFK assassination. I'll take anything other than the questions about the length of deliberations or what a note from the jury means.

The jury deliberated for seven hours over two days during my most recent trial. Considering there were two defendants and ten counts in the indictment, that does not seem like a long time. In another recent case in my office, where a 21 year old man admitted to murdering and raping a 13 year old girl and his DNA corroborated this confession, the jury deliberated for nine hours over three days. 

We can all posit theories about why it takes the time it did. I'm sure the defendants wonder why it took such a short time. The truth is we pick persons to serve on juries based on gut reactions and then pray they can play nice with others and reach a decision. We ask twelve strangers to decide the fate of a person and then we question what took them so long?

If I ever serve on a jury, especially in a murder trial, I would spend as much time as it took to make sure the decision was correct. The attorneys who try cases usually understand this much better than the ones who don't. 

We can save the theories about what jury notes mean and why it took the time it did to reach a decision after the case is completely over. There will be plenty of time for war stories then. While the jury is out? Just tell me a funny story.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Published Writer

Yours truly here at Prosecutor's Discretion has his first short story published! I am extremely excited to be a part of Winter's Regret, by The Elephant's Bookshelf Press.

It's a much different feeling than being published in legal journals. In those journals you already have a conclusion and show everyone how to get to that conclusion through a legal analysis. In fiction, the characters make decisions that lead to an ending that they chose. I'm proud that my work was selected for the anthology, and also thrilled that it is alongside one of my writing buddies, Jeff O'Handley.

My identity in this blog is a loosely guarded secret, so if you purchase it you get the chance to figure out which story is mine. Where do I get my copy, you ask? Check out these links:


Amazon for the Kindle


Happy reading.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Verdict

Twenty days of actual testimony. 65 witnesses presented by the prosecution. 260 exhibits admitted into evidence. Too many straight days at the office to count. A diet of pretzels and Pepsi for most of the month. Two defense attorneys clocking in their closing arguments at 1 hour and 45 combined. My closing argument coming in at 1 hour and 40 minutes (which is too long, but this was an exceptionally long and complicated case).

Seven hours of deliberation culminated in a verdict Friday afternoon after two days of jury deliberation. The first two defendants on trial (out of 5) were found guilty on all 14 counts.

The cold I'd been running from caught up with me this weekend and the sleep I'd been missing has finally exhausted me. There's so many posts to come out of this trial and I'll begin this week. Sorry to those of you that have emailed and found no response and sorry to my fellow bloggers for not checking in. Talk to you all very soon.