Thursday, April 9, 2009


As DSD and I watched the local news Tuesday night, my heart almost stopped as I realized the story they were broadcasting was one of a MURDER trial that had started that morning. In circuit court. With the Judge I had seen on Monday. The trial was the one I would have served on IF I had been picked for jury duty.

From what I remember of the news story, there was no doubt the accused was the shooter; he had apparently confessed, but was pleading self-defense. I can not find this portion of the story on the Internet, though, so maybe I made it up.

A teenager is guilty of First Degree Murder for the death of a man in Panama City.
It took a jury just over 2 hours to return the conviction for Jose Gonzalez, 17. Gonzalez is guilty in the death of Timothy Roy Humphries. Humphries was found dead off Lisenby Ave. back in August 2008.
Police say a tip during the investigation led them to the Orlando Airport, where Gonzalez was arrested trying to flee to Puerto Rico.
Gonzalez will be sentenced in May.

This was not a capital case due to the shooter's age. I don't know that I really wanted all that responsibility, but I do wonder if the jury got it right. What if it was self-defense? What if I could have made a difference?

Maybe next time.


andante said...

I don't know what to say.

In a good justice system, there must be impartial jurors, and it is true it DOES give one a feeling of good citizenship and "I done my duty".

It is just so tragic, and a responsible juror and good citizen can sometimes only get their mind around so much.

I know that's no answer...I don't think there is one.

LeftLeaningLady said...

andante, I do have a problem believing others got it right. I am still only 99% convinced Scott Peterson killed Lacy. I would not have wanted to be on that jury, but I would have liked to sit in the courtroom and learn all of the evidence. I think my problem is that I have to see it to believe it... and I saw those people in the jury room with me. Not the brightest bulbs from the light factory!

andante said...

I suppose with our defendant's confession, it made it easier for us. We had one or two jurors who seemed quite bright and had at least an iota of concern for his welfare. The rest of us were indeed pretty sheep-like, though at first I was proposed as jury foreman! Very flattering, but I declined and strongly supported one of the bright bulbs who had apparently done it before.

We did have one knuckle dragger who seemed to want at least a conviction and imprisonment and was there to protect the world from godless, kumbaya liberals. But the confession did make it easier - we couldn't NOT convict.

If he hadn't confessed, I'm not sure what would have happened. I know that I would have been very conflicted, and at least a few others the same. The rest of the sheep may have clung to knuckle dragger.

I should add that the two young black women - the only non-whites in the room - clung together and acted like they were afraid THEY would be fingered for the crime.

Still not an answer, I know. Tolkien said it best - "Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends."

LeftLeaningLady said...

Nice quote.

Due to the law classes I have taken I think I am more prepared than the 'average' citizen (whatever that is) but maybe that just makes me cocky.

As I said, Maybe next time. Doesn't it just suck that people complain about jury duty all the time and I WANT to be there and can't get there?

andante said...

Our judge was pretty tough on the few chosen during voir dire who tried to wiggle out. I think he only excused one lady with newborn twins. And thanked us most graciously at the end. I know that's not always the case, probably the exception.

He was a tough old bird, but a real, old style 'Southen gentleman', and made things as eas as possible for us. I guess all-in-all, I felt privileged to serve though it wasn't fun and games.

I wonder if your legal classwork might actually work against you in selection? You never know. Some attorneys don't want smart!

There ARE true hardship cases, but you wouldn't believe some of the suff these folks tried to pull.

I guess there's no answer - the system has it's 'bugs', but I guess they are a 'feature'...and it's the best we've got.

D said...

And yet it took 6 years for Phil Spector to be found guilty of 2nd-degree murder in a non-death penalty case. Go fig.

LeftLeaningLady said...

D, sometimes things work a lot faster in the little backwaters, just due to lack of TV stations!

ModernMommy said...

I've been very disturbed watching jurors deliberate on a t.v. program I was watching one time. These people were NOT the brightest bulbs and it really made me wonder if this really is the best system.