Justice IS Hard

from the SunTimes: A juror in the case involving a 16 year-old-girl and her sister robbing and killing a man in Pilsen locked herself in the bathroom during deliberations and refused to convict the young woman. Not because she thought she wasn’t guilty, but because she couldn’t understand how a 16-year-old girl could do that. Part of me wants to applaud this juror for living a life free of cynicism, a luxury few of us are ever afforded. I would love to have the feeling that people are totally inherently good and that I would go into an emotional tailspin if shown anything contradictory.
But that’s not what this is about. I am more surprised that this woman ever made her way onto the jury in the first place. I was a jury memer for a 3-week trial last year involving a Chicago cop shooting and killing an unarmed teenage boy in Cabrini Green. I sat through most of the jury selection process, which took the better part of 2 days. Jury selection is really just unchecked racism, sexism, agism, and classism running amok. In the case I sat on, because the victim was a young African American male, all African American jurors were almost IMMEDIATELY disqualified. I think the Chicago Police Department picked me because I am young, white, female and raised in the suburbs (read: the city is big and scary for a girl like me, so I have respect for officers of the law since they protect my poor, naive self) and the plaintiff picked me because I am young, urban, and liberal (read: I don’t trust overzealous cops, and relate to the age and social situation of the victim). It was horrendous for me to see this display, until I realized it was the only way to get a truly unbiased jury. The only way someone was going to make it past the selection process was if both parties saw something in them that they believed to be a benefit to them. Usually, these benefits will cancel each other out, and you have an unbiased party. Yes, I should have been on the jury I was on. I was a goldmine for both the plaintiff and the defendant because I saw both sides.
But this woman should have been apparent. I am just surprised that our judicial system failed. They are so good at discrimination.

2 Comments so far

  1. JosephFinn (unregistered) on July 14th, 2004 @ 1:00 am

    That’s why I lie about my feelings on the death penalty whenever I get called – just so I can screw over institutional murder.

  2. micah (unregistered) on February 24th, 2005 @ 9:09 pm

    This juror was entitled to this response.

    There is a little-known safeguard in our judicial system called jury nullification.

    At any time, a jury can agree not to convict a person on the sole basis that they consider the case to be unfair, the charges to be unjust, or they simply don’t want to see the person convicted. Or for any other reason the jury agrees to.

    It sounds like this woman did not get all the information she needed to understand the girls’ motives.

    See this page from the University of Missouri St. Louis Law School for starters:


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