The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten has a fascinating column here about his recent experience as an alternate juror in DC Superior Court. Weingarten would have voted to acquit, in a $10 heroin buy-bust, despite his certainty beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty. Why? Weingarten was equally certain that the officers who testified for the prosecution lied in a key portion of their testimony. Weingarten figured that he was the only juror or alternate who felt this way, but the jury hung 10-2 in favor of acquittal. The prosecution decided not to re-indict. The defendant was represented by the incomparable Jon W. Norris, who established that the police officers’ testimony about how they identified the defendant could not have been accurate.
Weingarten’s experience as a Superior Court juror was similar to mine. Amazingly, the prosecutor did not move to strike me, despite my status as a criminal defense attorney. The other jurors and I listened to a day and a half of testimony and argument in a gun possession case, and almost immediately voted to acquit, because the lone police officer’s story was simply not credible. I didn’t have to do any arguing. Nobody did. We all walked backed to deliberate, took a vote, and found that it was 12-0 for acquittal.
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