Judging A Book, or, On Being An Armchair Juror

Going back to the conversation on these televised trials, I have an observation that kind of bugs me and I want to see if I’m the only one who thinks the way I do.

As I mentioned I’m watching the jury selection for the George Zimmerman case, which is quite tedious, but on a streaming website rather than on TV, A) because it focuses solely on the interviews and Roman numeral B–thank you, Butchie–I can’t cope with all the commercial breaks. I am missing those tidbits that come to light every so often on the Jodi Arias case. I’m telling you, I’m obsessed with it and it’s obvious I’m giving her even more publicity, I guess. And the over-emotional and over-modulated reactions of the news commentators every step of the way.

So the thing that’s making me wince in frustration with these prospective jurors is how they each have the same response or so it seems; I don’t watch the news because they only put their own slant on it. Well, the way I look at it, don’t we all have our own slant on things? They don’t watch the news or haven’t read about it, but they know the details of the case. How does that happen, anyway?

The lawyers for the state and defense are trying to stress that what is heard on the news, of course, is not evidence–what they refer to as facts– is only what is presented in court and so how could one make a rational decision until evidence is presented. Also, a verdict is not reached by popular consensus or by bias. Because everyone is innocent until proven guilty, even if it’s known, as in the Jodi Arias case, the accused actually did commit the crime, though that case was to determine if the murder was premeditated.

But then comes the question on the integrity of the evidence that’s presented during the trial. Again, like with the Arias trial, her testimony and case was based on the myriad lies she concocted over time–that she was nowhere near the murder scene; that two ninja-like thugs entered and shot and mutilated Travis and nearly killed her; that Travis attacked her because she dropped his camera and she had to defend herself. Of course all those lies caught up with her, but also allegedly unbeknownst to the jury (as they had been admonished against watching TV or gathering other information about the case on their own in any other way), there were pieces of evidence that never made it before the jury, because they might have been considered prejudicial. Well, to me, evidence is evidence. Lay it all out there.

And how are these facts concocted? It seems like each side spins everything to fit their own need. Isn’t that bias? Isn’t that what the attorneys are preaching against? That reminds me of someone creating a computer generated depiction of an event and presenting it as gospel. And to that end, when either side puts an expert on the stand, that expert is allowed to give his or her opinion. Well, opinion is not fact.. His face was smeared with chocolate ice cream. It’s obvious he likes chocolate ice cream. His face was smeared with chocolate ice cream. It’s obvious it was forced on him. Either one works.

So, really, in the end, one true fact remains, that a crime had been committed and then it’s the jury’s job to weed through all that muck and voice their opinions anyway and decide the case. It’s just better when everyone shares that same opinion, hence the hung jury.

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