Friday, June 3, 2005

On the Record with Furor Scribendi

Have you ever been a juror?  I have.  The case involved three counts of first degree rape of a child.  In Washington State, the law makes no distinction between types of illegal sexual contact between adults and minors and refers to all of it as rape.  Most interesting about my experience was the way in which the jury, having heard all of the evidence, have sat in the same room with each other, could be evenly divided, 6 to 6, during the first poll in deliberations.  More astoundingly, though, we managed to reach a verdict.  It was a compromise verdict.  We found the defendant guilty of one count of the three counts against him.  In retrospect there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  Actually, there was proof beyond a shadow of a doubt.  By implication of his guilt on that count, he was guilty of the remaining two counts.  But implication is not good enough. 

I can say with complete assurance that the entire case hinged on the testimony of the victim who was seven years old at the time.  That's a lot to rest on the shoulders of one so young.  There was no evidence other than testimony, no physical evidence at all.  The court required us to weigh the testimony in the balance and determine the truth of the matter.  That is a higher burden than you might at first imagine.  Sending someone to prison without some sort of corroborative proof is daunting. 

In the end, our jury compromised.  We found the defendant guilty on one charge, not guilty on two. 

Likewise, I feel, the jury in the Michael Jackson case will weigh the testimony of his accusers against the impeachment of that testimony by the defense, and they will be unable to convict.  From what I've heard described in the media, the defense sufficiently impeached the testimony of the primary accusers to the point that renders them insufficiently credible to support a conviction on the most serious charges.  I predict that the Jackson jury will compromise, and find him guilty of some lesser charge, such as supplying a minor with alcohol.  That is, if they are able to reach a verdict at all.  More probable than not, the jury will hang.  If not, then they will return with a compromise verdict.

I do not believe that Jackson will spend a single day in jail, nor will he ever be in handcuffs again.  At least, not for a charge of this nature.

By the way, and apropros of nothing--Michael Jackson was married to Lisa Marie Presley who is a celebrity Scientologist.  Greta van Susteren, the Fox News legal maven, is also a celebrity Scientologist, and perhaps that's why Fox News takes a very even-handed approach to this trial. 

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