Saturday, May 23, 2009

Last Jury Duty ever (I hope)

I had my last jury trial yesterday. Hopefully that will fulfill my civic duty for a long time to come.
The case was a Fish and Game offense. I don't know how it is in other states, but in Vermont, you can request a jury trial for a Fish and Game issue. (You can even get a jury trial for a parking ticket if you so choose.)
Our defendants were charged with Taking a Big Game Animal Out of Season (specifically, a deer) and Possession of Big Game Taken Out of Season. The whole case rested on an unattributed phone call to a game warden. There was no smoking gun, no carcass, no witness - and the only physical evidence was 3 photos of some packages wrapped in bloody freezer paper and ziploc bags, labeled with a date for the previous year (when a legal deer had been taken.) We found both defendants Not Guilty, since we didn't believe that the state had proved any guilt 'beyond a reasonable doubt.' There were way too many perfectly reasonable scenarios that the prosecutor hadn't eliminated. Whatever our private thoughts were (and more than one of us thought there might have been something shady going on), the evidence was not sufficient to convict.
The funny thing is, the trial itself only took about an hour and a half. We deliberated for close to 4 hours... They had to send in lunch for us. We even had them play the tapes of most of the testimony over for us, to be sure that what we thought we had heard was what we actually had heard.
Imagine if it had been a murder case - we would have been in that little room for days...

The good news is, I took my knitting:Finished the cuffs for my Drops Sweater!


Anna M said...

It always astounds me that folks are arrested and charged based on what is mostly hearsay, not evidence.

I could go on at great personal length about this but suffice it to say that I think our Justice system is broken.

pacalaga said...

I find it interesting that they arrested people for the idea of killing a deer out of season and yet any city in the country will tell you that they are understaffed with CPS workers and kids are repeatedly left in homes even after 20-30 complaints.

Joansie said...

Well, that's our Vermont tax dollars at work. My ex- was a VT fish and game warden when we married so I may not be fair and The guy may have been trying to feed his family.

Be glad you weren't on the Abate case in Burlington this past week. I know someone who was.