Behind the scenes of Justice
In case you missed it, here's a backblip that I put up shortly before this.
Day two of trial, and we started bright and early, 8:30. It was a criminal case, alleged Obstructing an Officer charges against an individual. I'll try not to get too detailed for everyone's sake, but it was an interesting trial. We only heard testimony from two people, both were the officers involved. I have a lot of sympathy for the situation the officers found themselves in - they pulled over a van that matched the description of one that was stolen in a strong-arm robbery a couple days prior, down to the missing license plates. The vehicle pulls into a driveway, an individual gets out of the back, tosses a handgun under a nearby car. One officer attempts to arrest him, and while trying to get him under control, about 7-9 more people get out of the car, some of them yelling at the officers and trying to incite the others. All the while an unsecured gun is lying 8ft away from the crowd (though they seem to be unawares).
One individual pushed the officers on 3 occasions, and was the most visible person inciting the group, using all sorts of colorful language, threatening to kill the officers if they didn't have their badges, etc. He was eventually arrested, and now was on trial, and I was one of 12 people to decide his guilt or innocence.
By 11:30, we were done with testimony and moved on to deliberate. We needed a unanimous decision one way or the other. We took a 30 minute lunch break, and deliberated until after 3:00. Fortunately, despite the length of time we took, everyone kept quite civil and respectful, which I find to be a minor miracle. We found the defendant guilty of Obstructing an Officer.
Afterwards, the Judge released us but said that he'd meet with any of us in the Jury Room if we wanted to. Only 2 of us took him up on that, but it was a great chance to get some behind the scenes of the trial and talk to the Judge more candidly. Well, talk to him at all. He told us that he appreciated the time we took deliberating, that it showed we were being very careful with the decision we were making (to contrast with JCD's experience of being scolded). He also said that having seen all the evidence, he also would have made the same decision (though he would have upheld either verdict from the Jury).
He was very friendly and open, and had made great efforts to "pull aside the veil" of courtroom procedure, understanding that if you're not familiar with it, the antics and operations of the court can be very unusual to the uninitiated. I wasn't uninitiated, but I did appreciate the effort at accessibility.
Being the last to leave the Jury Room, I took a leisurely walk down the stairs from the 6th floor to the 1st floor. Beautiful marble staircases, and windows that looked into the middle of the building where what I'm presuming are Air Conditioning ducts have been retrofitted in order to make the building comfortable. It's a slightly terrifying, slightly beautiful 5 story column of windows, ducts and brick that contrasts greatly from the building's stately facade. And much like the judicial process in this country, it's not perfect, but it has its own beauty, and I sure as heck wouldn't want to be around if it wasn't in there.