Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Jury service

I was on jury service all of last week, and it was a real eye-opener.  The guy was up for two charges of managing a brothel, and one of laundering the proceeds of an illegal operation through his bank account.

I spent the whole of the week, right up to the point at which we retired, becoming increasingly angry that the case had even been allowed to come to court.  The prosecution were only able to offer circumstantial evidence, and I thought that was pretty flimsy at best.  Didn't stop her spending the best part of a day and a half going through it in meticulous detail, of course.

Every now and then she'd smile at us jurors.  I couldn't help thinking of Gordon Brown, each time she did so.  Made me feel distinctly queasy.

Then I got cross with the defence for not pleading "no case to answer", though at least he was easier to listen to and had less to say.

You can imagine my astonishment when, on retiring, we took an intial vote and nearly half the jury thought he was guilty on all charges

So we were in discussion for well over 3 hours, during which time those of us convinced he had not been involved in the running of the brothels finally persuaded the rest that there was at least insufficient evidence to convict him of that.    I confess I'm convinced many of them  were sure he was guilty and weren't too bothered that there was no evidence to show it.  I was sure he was innocent all the way through and the fact that there was no evidence just reinforced that.

However, on the third charge, of laundering the ill-gotten gains, we all thought he was guilty, but a few of us thought the prosecution had not produced adequate evidence to prove it.  He was close friends with the two people who were running the brothels, and we figured there was no way he could not know what was going on, but it came down to three of us who kept saying "Insufficient evidence."

Then someone pointed out a text message (we had transcripts of all sorts of stuff!) in which our man had referred to a "free shag."   If you refer to a free shag, it's hard to be convincing when you claim not to know about paid-for shags, and at that point I switched my vote.  The remaining two wouldn't budge, so we'd reached impasse, but the judge said that we'd given it enough time and a majority verdict was acceptable.

I don't feel bad that I eventually convicted the man - I thought he was guilty all along.  I feel bad because all the way through the trial I was convinced he was a good man fallen among rogues.  I still think so.  And his 18-year-old son was there in the public gallery supporting him all the way through, which says a lot, I think.

I can't find any information on what his likely sentence will be, so all I can do is hope the judge is as lenient as possible with him.  I'm slightly optimistic there, as the judge came across as one of the good guys, too.

1 comment:

Jennyta said...

I have never been called to do jury service but I should imagine it could be very interesting or very boring, depending on the cases you get. Agree totally with your comment about Gordon Brown. ;)