241/365 - Jury Duty, Days 2 - 4

Jury Duties
The handbook given to the Jury Pool on Monday - lots of good information in this little pamphlet and certainly qualifies as "reading material".

Day 2 summary - I spent 3 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the afternoon waiting. The 3 hours in the morning were worse than waiting in an airport - at least in an airport, people come and go, and there is stuff to buy. We waited in the holding room. I finished reading my magazines and started in on a book, but I grew tired of reading. In the afternoon, jury selection started for a 1st degree murder trial. You can imagine the seriousness of such a trial, so the jury selection progressed at a slow pace. I was one of the "lucky 7" whose number was never called, so I wasn't even considered for this jury. But I sat in the courtroom the entire afternoon.

Day 3 - I was a little smarter this morning and brought my laptop with me (yes, they allow them, although there is no internet connectivity) - I worked on photos from Colorado until we were called again for jury selection. This time, my number was called, I was asked several questions and I was accepted on a jury who would listen to a criminal case for "Armed Violence".

The trial started in the afternoon. I learned that "Armed violence" consisted of two separate charges - (1) possession of a control substance (drugs) while (2) carrying a weapon (a gun). We heard testimony from three police officers, a forensic chemist and the defendant. We were discharged for the day before closing arguments were made.

Day 4 - We resumed the trial with evidence submission and closing arguments. Without going into details, the defense argued that while the defendant admitted to possession of crack cocaine, the gun that was found on the jacket he was wearing was not his, nor did he "willingly possess" the gun. He had simply donned the jacket, using it as a blanket in the back seat of a car. Three of the jurors could not reconcile his claims, and struggled with the "willing possession" of the gun. And I could see their point. However, in reading the definition of the charges, "possession" of the firearm was not written. The definition clearly omitted "possession" - only "carrying a weapon" was written in the definition of the charges. With this information, the jury passed a "guilty" verdict.

This was my first jury service and I really gained an appreciation for the judges, the lawyers, the police, the court system and the overall judicial process. Nothing is ever 100% clear cut. Your best bet is to avoid getting into trouble in the first place, and this includes hanging out with the right crowd.

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