Last week, my classmates and I participated in a mock trial. Although it had been quite a while since I had completed such a project, this particular one proved to be fun and even better, very interesting. As assignments were being handed out regarding the roles each of us were to play, I asked to be a juror. Once I received the “ok” to act in such a capacity, I decided I would play this role to the hilt. The reasoning behind my focused participation has everything to do with previous class readings regarding the job of a juror. Nevertheless, I initially had very little to actually do in preparation, but once the trial started, I had to remain focused and impartial. Over a period of two days, the court entertained opening and closing statements, witnesses, and arguments. Then, we jurors were off to perform our explicit duty of determining innocence or guilt.
While I am positive each of us listened carefully to everything that both the prosecution and defense put forth, I listened and concentrated extremely hard. I wanted to be sure that while I heard each and every argument for guilt or innocence, I did my duty and did it well. I wanted to be satisfied that no matter what the outcome, I was fair to both sides. However, during deliberation, I noticed quite a few very interesting facts. For instance, the law is not always as clear and understandable as we citizens perceive it to be. We might think someone is guilty of a certain crime because on the surface of the prosecution’s case, it may very well look that way. But sometimes circumstances play a huge role in the outcome. In other words what may appear to be an open and shut case to one juror may not be as simple to another.
Another item I noticed has to do with our desire to punish. The need to reprimand someone for breaking a rule or law lies in our ability to control. Nevertheless, the law may not be written to satisfy such a need. An example of this would be texting and driving. In some areas of throughout the United States, it is illegal to do so, while in some areas it has yet to be addressed. Several months ago, legislators in one state are considering drafting a law which makes it an offense to text an individual who sends a text to another person if the other person is driving and has an accident. Personally, I see the United States Supreme Court knocking such a law down, but who can say these days. The protection of Freedom of Speech is not exactly what it used to be.
Although our exercise was only done as a mock representative, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am very happy to have participated and I believe everyone did an outstanding job. I also know I had a wonderful time convincing others of how important it was to truly examine the evidence and what components of the case were actually proven by the prosecutor against the defense. And while I believe in my gut that I made a good, strong decision based on the evidence presented, I cannot help but think of others who are often “railroaded” by the justice system simply because a juror did not do their job or were to unconcerned to care. Such disregard is sad and disrespectful to not only you and me, but to all that we represent.