Juries of our peers

If I were on trial, I’d want someone like me – having worked hard to be open-minded throughout my entire good-citizenship career – for one of my jurors. But not for the jury to which I was just summoned. The prosecution may have wanted me; the defense would’ve had me outa there in a heartbeat.

It was a fascinating exercise. For openers, the giant jury assembly room was nearly filled, all of us summoned for this one trial. We were all duly sworn in on the spot, and eventually the judge and two main attorneys appeared. This case, the judge said, could be unpleasant for some, and complicated for others, and they hoped to sort it all out before getting down to business the next day. She then read out the form: a questionnaire about you the juror. Have you ever been sexually assaulted? Do you know anyone who has? And questions to that effect.

Here’s what the deal seemed to be: A woman had been abused by a guy. It didn’t seem to be rape; it seemed to be everything else. Kidnapping with intent to commit rape. Maybe attempted rape. Even attempted arousal for purposes of who knows what. The trial, if the judge’s overview was any indication, would turn on who you believed, and how far is too far. In the 1950s, when I had my own trials (physical/emotional, not judicial) with date rape/workplace rape of this exact sort, women had little power and less choice. Today it can come down to who has real power and who has real choice. Did she really go somewhere with him willingly? Did she say No? Did he listen?

Sorry guys, unless she’s 6′ tall and outweighs him by 40 pounds, I am going to lean toward the lady. Handily having a disabled husband to look after, I begged hardship exemption.

Hopefully, for plaintiff and defendant both, a jury of their peers was seated the next day.

 

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