I was once one of two holdouts on a felony jury. In another felony trial I was among the eleven who agreed. Presentation of those trials took hours and we had to return the next day to finish hearing evidence on at least one. The witness list was in the teens in the Federal case, two or three on the other. Our deliberation took almost as long as the trial, half a day at least each time. Both were years ago, so my times aren’t exact. My point is the proportion of time hearing testimony to time deliberated was about equal. The Casey Anthony trial lasted about six weeks. The jury deliberated eleven hours.
In the trial where I was a holdout I was certain the defendant was guilty, but so much conflicting testimony and alternate theories were presented that I could not be sure. I had reasonable doubt that the crime might have been perpetrated by another. So we talked, and talked, and talked. Finally another juror recalled testimony he thought pointed undisputedly to the defendant. I had not heard that. Neither had the other holdout. We asked the court clerk to let us see the testimony, thinking someone would just read it to us. Instead the court was reconvened, we all returned to the places we had been hours before, and the clerk read the portion we asked about. We adjourned to our room, voted and delivered a unanimous decision. We had all listened, but it was so easy to miss something important. At that time no notes were allowed either. Only two of us missed the key element.
The other case was similar, except that after hours of discussion someone mentioned particular testimony. The lone holdout said she had not heard that. The courtroom was set up again and the court reporter asked to read the testimony in question. I read the defendant’s lips as he said to his attorney, “I said that?” The vote immediately after that was unanimous for guilty.
While I totally respect the Casey Anthony jury and know what a gut wrenching job they had, I have to wonder at the brevity of their deliberation. You writers out there know that you may think a story or novel complete many, many times, but a critique group or editor will dig deeper and see something you missed. For that reason, as much as I hate to criticize a jury, I am afraid they didn’t dig deeply enough. Perhaps a few more hours, or days in this case, of discussion would have satisfied many of their doubts. But what is done is done. I can tell Juror #3 wishes she might have been able to connect more dots and perhaps she could have had those twelve have had a longer discussion. But maybe not. Remember all of us heard much more than they did both on court TV when the jury was out of the room and in the three years prior.
In the elevator after a trial it is sometimes hard to suppress the tears even when you feel you have made the right decision, so I get it. The jury is to be thanked for sacrificing weeks of their lives for justice. I just hope that was the end result.