The Gavel Is Hollow


I’m in a bit of a strange state.


I arrived home after a Celebration of Life.


I absent-mindedly opened my email, assuming that someone had decided to take me up on the offer of watching a memorial video I made and needed an email link.


Instead, someone close to the defendant in a murder trial from 2016, had written to me today. I wasn’t chosen to sit on the jury. It turns out that the letter I wrote to the defense’s legal team had been turned over to the defendant and his family.


As I wrote back then, the jury selection process in the murder trial being held in Washington County had legal defects, ones which precluded the defendant from receiving due process from the court. I don’t say this lightly.


I did right by the defendant, the prosecution, the court, and the process by sticking my neck out and informing them of what I had observed. While I heard back from the defense back then, I did not hear back from the court or the prosecution. I wrote them all the same truth: things were done improperly.


I’m not surprised by the failure of the prosecution team to respond. It would have been impossible to defend the defects I reported to them. They go directly to the efficacy of the jury process. I understand the need to persist in the illusion that the system does not fail. A good prosecutor and human being could not faithfully convict people if he or she knew that the process is fundamentally flawed.


My wife will tell any of you that because of my exposure to the frailty of the human process, that I don’t believe that justice as we imagine it exists in most places. It permeates my ability to watch, read, or consume any stories about the justice system.


The person reaching out to me alleges that in addition to the glaring problems I documented, that one of the jurors had allegedly threatened another sitting juror on the case. I don’t know if the allegations shared with me are true.


I can say, however, that I tend to believe them, given the disparity between what I personally witnessed and the lofty promises our criminal justice system proposes we accept as true.


To paraphrase my misgivings: “It just ain’t right.” What I witnessed was not an impartial jury, nor one honoring the requirements of eligibility to sit and faithfully serve. Because I reached out to inform them, everyone involved knew at the time that someone involved in the process had serious issues about how it was handled. A dedication to the truth would drive most people to inquire; otherwise, we’re not dispensing justice.


I look forward to hearing more about the allegations that an actual sitting juror had more than simple misgivings and was threatened for it.


I have a feeling this is going to take me down a winding road.


The gavel is hollow – and so am I.


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