Paul's Perambulations a personal blog

April 10, 2010

Jury duty – a meaningful four-day experience

Filed under: General,Politics — admin @ 10:57 pm

Although I often get called to report for jury duty, this week was the first time I have been selected to serve. Usually they are not interested in me; search Jury Duty on this site for possible reasons. This time I was selected even though I wore a button that said Wage Peace next to the button that said Juror and had indicated on a questionnaire that I could not promise to follow the judge’s instructions. My thinking on this issue is that I would have to follow my conscience first, if there were a conflict between conscience and the law. I am pleased that I was found suitable for jury duty. Things might have been different in a murder trial, because I cannot support capital punishment. It is appropriate to remove from society people who are a danger to others, but I wish to leave open the possibility of rehabilitation. The trial lasted four days, and to learn about the trial itself, read… 

From my daily Facebook posts:

Paul Sheldon is now serving jury duty on a criminal case. Interesting that I was selected despite wearing a Wage Peace pin next to my Juror pin, turned down the proffered bible, and chose to affirm. In response to the question that asked if I was certain to follow any instructions that the judge might give, I had checked NO. Wasn’t accepted when I did such things before.

Paul Sheldon is back from second day of  jury duty. Let out after courthouse closed, again. It’s difficult work, and everyone is working hard. All jury members seem competent, appropriately serious, and attentive. Some quiet sobbing from jury during testimony. Return tomorrow for more.

Paul Sheldon is still on jury duty. We finished with all testimony today, and tomorrow morning (4th day) we are scheduled to hear closing arguments from both sides and then receive our instructions and charge from the judge. Our deliberations will begin right after that.

Fran Sheldon
I’ve never served on a jury, but I’m familiar with the trial process from my days as a litigation paralegal. It’s imperfect, based as it is on the testimony of fallible and occasionally disingenuous witnesses, so the juror’s duty of discerning the truth is a difficult one. But trial by a jury of our peers is the foundation of our criminal justice system, and it takes men and women who accept the challenge to keep the system working. I’m so proud you’re one of them.

Paul Sheldon and jury reached a VERDICT just minutes ago, after nearly a week in court. Testimony was complex and sometimes contradictory, with no physical evidence, but we found defendant GUILTY of rape of an underage stepchild in a rather dysfunctional family.

Judge Frank T. Hazel did an excellent job conducting the trial. He takes his work seriously and spoke appreciatively with the jury after the trial was over. He is clearly concerned with educating jurors about the justice system, and I heartly approve of his work in this regard.

There was a great deal of conflicting testimony, which it would be pointless to try to recreate here. Ask me, if you would like the details. In any case, I believe justice was done.


  1. At one point in the trial there was some queston about the legal definition of “intimidation of a witness” (one of the charges). Because this did not seem fully clear during the trial (perhaps my only complaint), I have copied the first two items that turned up in response to my putting those words in google search. I’m no lawyer, so I’m giving them for whatever you wish to make of them, as follows.

    SECTION 7. Intimidating a witness. (1) A person commits the crime of intimidating a witness if he intentionally or knowingly attempts, by use of a threat directed to a witness or a person he believes will be called as a witness in any official proceedings, (From an Act of 2006 State of Mississippi).

    Witness intimidation involves witnesses crucial to court proceedings being threatened in order to pressure or extort them not to testify.

    These are links to the state’s charges against the defendant. You can see that the intimidation charges were originally a separate case. They seem to have been bundled with the main charges mostly as a matter of convenience, which is understandable. This trial cost the Commonwealth (and taxpayers) a lot of money, but I believe it was worth it. At other places and other times, this is the type of situation where a family member would otherwise kill another. This leads naturally to more violence, particularly when tragic mistakes are made.


    Comment by admin — April 10, 2010 @ 11:19 pm

  2. Here is a related Facebook post. The timing (publication of this information the same day as our conviction of a sex offender) is coincidental, but affecting.

    I reviewed the document trail concerning the Oakland diocese’s attempt to remove Stephen Kiesle from the priesthood because of recognized pedophilia. I am particularly attuned to this topic after serving as a juror for a trial where we convicted a pedophile. One “smoking gun” is the 1985 letter signed by Cardinal Ratzinger. I regret greatly that I must say that his behavior in this case is a disgrace to his church.

    Comment by admin — April 11, 2010 @ 9:21 am

  3. Related to Comment #2, yesterday a close and trusted friend heard a noted Villanova Augustinian scholar/priest declare that the pope should resign. I believe that many others share this view but feel too intimidated to speak out.

    Comment by admin — April 22, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress