Monday, September 8, 2014

A Hung Jury

It was the first time it's happened to me. After a week of testimony and hours of deliberation, the jury declared they would never be able to reach a verdict. They were "hopelessly deadlocked" as the law requires.

What it really means is that I must endure the stress of a trial again. The victim and witnesses must answer questions on cross-examination about their past misdeeds. The police officers must recount their  investigative steps and what they missed. All the secrets are exposed and both sides have to regroup to try it again.

Everyone says the hung jury is better than an acquittal, which is true. But the only benefit to an acquittal is a finality to the proceedings. The loss is difficult to take and usually creates a tremendous amount of self-examination, but that chapter is closed both for myself and the victim. A hung jury pushes all of my work into a state of limbo. I can't really proceed with other cases as this one will be tried again soon.

The advantage of a retrial is the case weaknesses were clearly exposed. I need to do a better job in jury selection addressing the issues and a better job at trial explaining why the police did some things, but not others. I've stopped counting the number of trials I've done at this point. During every trial, I encounter something I've never seen before. It's what keeps me coming back I guess. It never gets boring.