Jury of Our Peers

I recently had the opportunity to sit on a mock trial jury. It was a unique experience for young legal minds to try to present their side of a case and my job, as a member of the jury, was to see if the prosecution was able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. As physical evidence in the case was thin, it came down to a he said, she said kind of scenario. At that point, the jury was essentially tasked with parsing who was lying and to what degree and whether that degree had a bearing on the facts of guilt or innocence. In some senses, as we are all human and the basest of human instincts is self-preservation and thusly our narratives will lean that way without careful conscious effort at balance. To some degree, without objective evidence, these words could be construed as a “lie” depending on the vantage of the listener to the speaker. They may be true to the person speaking, and that includes the array of factors that could bear on their perception—i.e. “I didn’t hear the knock at the door” perhaps they didn’t because they were focused elsewhere but that doesn’t deny that the knock happened, so the other guy could equally and truthfully say, “I followed protocol and knocked before breaking the door down.”

At any rate, it struck me listening to the other jurors as we deliberated, that we all have a threshold before we shut off the inputs for additional information. One juror expressed, that as soon as the first witness said one thing that was contradicted by his written statement they shut down and decided the defendant was guilty because the story wasn’t straight. Interestingly enough, he was the first witness and all of the subsequent witnesses on both sides had statements that were contradicted on the stand, and had the person listened to all of them with the same attentive ear perhaps they too would have had reasonable doubt. I’m certain the man was guilty but not necessarily of what was being charged. Just as we humans, are all guilty, but not always of the immediate charges.

I personally, get overwhelmed with following the news and my threshold for new information is quickly met. I cannot stand to be lied to and that is the sense that I get when I try to sort out the truth of the world via the mechanisms of “news”. Though it is a painful process and overwhelming at times, to parse truth from lies, I do see a value in hearing the matter out. Just as in this mock trial, for me as a juror, there was value in listening to all of the “lies” and tossing the obvious ones to the side, in order to define the clear narrow pathway that could be the truth in the case. We must be vigilant to always be sorting and defining the pathway of the truth of the world around us, though it is often time consuming, frustrating and slow go by the nature of the sheer volume of incoming information. It is our duty to put in the effort so that when we do have an opportunity to render a verdict we can speak with confidence when we are tasked to be a member of a jury of peers.