Stupid Juries

When a jury is empaneled they are given basic instructions on the meanings of such terms as “beyond a reasonable doubt” and they the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is explained. Such ideas form the cornerstone for American jurisprudence and they are in place to protect liberty and the American way of life. Then when the juries go to deliberate many of them just say fuck it and reach a verdict on the fly.

How else can this story be explained? A homeless Lansing Community College student is tried for the rape and murder of an LCC professor. No witnesses tie him to the crimes and the only physical evidence from underneath the professor’s fingernails comes from someone other than the defendant. He is accused solely on the basis of a “confession” he gave to police which is, in fact not a confession at all, but his own hypothetical speculation on how he might have committed the crimes had he been sleepwalking. But the key is that he never claimed to have done it.

Before you point out that it was dumb for him to even speculate on this point when prodded by investigators, I will grant you that. It’s also been pointed out that this man has a low IQ, like borderline retarded. That’s unfortunate but it’s not something you should go to prison for. Anyway this man was convicted and now, after a year and half for these crimes, he has been released because it has been shown that the DNA underneath the fingernails of the professor came from a recently arrested serial rapist.

So, my question is this: how can any jury, applying the concepts of “reasonable doubt” and “innocent until proven guilty” have convicted a man based on such shoddy evidence? The answer is that, in my opinion, they didn’t apply those concepts at all. They sat down, pretended to agree to the explanations of those concepts, and then dismissed them out of hand as needless legal technicalities not necessary to apply to rapists/murderers. And how did they in fact “know” that his man was a rapist and murderer? Because he had been accused. And THAT’S how stupid some people can be.

They should change the law so that people wrongly convicted of murder should be allowed to murder at least one person when they get out.

5 Responses to “Stupid Juries”

  1. Rule #1 don’t say anything to the cops. Especially when they ask you if you have alcohol in the car

  2. mexi says:

    And then my fine was less than yours, how fair is that??? 😀

  3. Phelps says:

    In all fairness, in an adversarial system, it is the defense attorney’s job to explain this. The instructions from the judge give a very dry definition — just what is legally sufficient (since the defense wants as much definition as possible, but the prosecution wants the least.) It is up to the defense to explain it (and the prosecution to blur it as much as possible without actually getting it wrong).

    In almost all of these cases, you see a completely incompetent defense as the culprit. (Occasionally you will see something like a racially motivated verdict or an undisclosed relationship between a party and a juror, but those are pretty damned rare.)

  4. mexi says:

    Yes, I agree that the defense may have been incompetent (and I’ve argued that very point on the LSJ message boards). I still think it’s likely that the jury was willfully ignoring the burden of proof. Once in a while you’ll hear a jury say “We thought he was guilty but we just didn’t think that was proven beyond a reasonable doubt so we had to vote not-guilty.” That shows there actually are some intelligent and scrupulous juries out there.

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