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Jury Duty Part 11

Day 7 (Monday, October 15) Part 2

I mentioned that on day three of this trial, Juror #11 had told me that his horoscope was “A disagreeable outlook will be reflected by a poorly handled job.” I also mentioned that by the end of the trial, those words were going to be disturbingly accurate. Today was the day that that prophecy took hold. He was an ANNOYING son of a bitch who could come up with an argument against ANYTHING. For example, a photograph was taken of the gun lying on the ground on Van Buren Street. Next to the gun was the gun’s cartridge. His argument was that the gun was planted by the cops, because if you were to take two objects of a different weight and throw them at the same time, they wouldn’t end up lying right next to each other. That might be true, BUT WHO FUCKING CARES? With all of the evidence that was stacked against Boyd, did it really matter?He reminded me of an experiment that I had read about in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking. Gladwell wrote that people with autism have difficulty interpreting nonverbal cues, such as gestures and facial expressions or putting themselves inside someone else’s head. They have difficulty drawing understanding from anything other than the literal meaning of words. Ani Klin is one of the country’s leading experts on autism. Him and his colleagues did an experiment in which they showed an autistic man named Peter a movie, and then they followed the direction of his eyes as he looked at the screen. The film that they showed him was the 1966 film version of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? Peter wore a hat with an eye-tracking device composed of two tiny cameras. One camera recorded the movement of Peter’s fovea–the centerpiece of his eye. The other camera recorded whatever it was Peter was looking at, and then the two images were superimposed. This meant that on every frame of the movie, Klin could draw a line showing where Peter was looking at that moment. Throughout the film, Peter constantly focuses on details that have nothing to do with the film, and Klin concludes that on the most basic neurological level, for someone with autism, a face is just another object. Gladwell writes:

So, when Peter looked at the scene of Martha and Geoge kissing,

their two faces did not automatically command his attention. What

he saw were three objects–a man, a woman, and a light switch. And

what did he prefer? As it happens, the light switch. “I know for [Peter]

that light switches have been important in his life,” says Klin. “He sees

a light switch, and he gravitates toward it. It’s like if you were a Matisse

connoisseur, and you look at a lot of pictures, and then you go, ahh,

there is the Matisse. So he goes there is the light switch. He seeks

meaning, organization. He doesn’t like confusion. All of us gravitate toward

things that mean something to us, and for most of us, that’s people. But if

people don’t anchor meaning for you, then you seek something that does.”

Juror #11 didn’t appear to be autistic, but he had a background in firearms. All of us gravitate toward things that mean something to us, and for most of us, that’s people. But if people don’t anchor meaning for you, then you seek something that does. Firearms meant something to Juror #11. They meant enough to him where he could ignore all of the evidence that was presented to him, and focus on the fact that when you throw a gun and a cartridge at the same time, they won’t land right next to each other. And if Jessica Alba were to walk up to him, naked, and say “If you don’t fuck me, I’m going to blow my brains out,” he would probably ask her twenty questions about what kind of gun she was planning on using. Unfortunately, Juror #11 was not a part of Klin’s study, so it can’t be confirmed whether or not he was mildly autistic. What I can tell you, however, is that he believed–too much–in the concept of reasonable doubt. How is it possible to believe “too much” in a concept that is fair and righteous? It’s possible only when common sense gets thrown out the window. I reiterated to him what Judge Reinbach had told us about reasonable doubt during the voir dire process. He said, “There is always room for some amount of doubt since there is practically nothing in this world that is guaranteed. For all we know, space aliens could have killed the victim. It’s pretty safe to assume though that space aliens did not kill the victim. That’s why it’s referred to as reasonable doubt. You have to be reasonable.” Exactly. Is it healthy to be skeptical? Certainly. Is it important to question authority? You better believe it! But this guy was fucking ridiculous! And before you start “playing the race card,” I’ll mention that he was white (and probably still is) and that every black juror found Boyd guilty.

Some of the jurors requested to see a copy of the testimony given by the police officer who arrested Boyd down in Florida. We were brought back into the courtroom, and the judge told us that due to objections and sidebars, jurors aren’t allowed to read court transcripts. This resulted in the court reporter reading back all of the cop’s testimony. And I will remind you that on direct examination alone, he testified for ninety minutes. I felt bad for the court reporter. She ended up reading the transcript for one hour and forty-five minutes! This was irritating. There was one tiny detail that some of the jurors wanted to know (thanks to Juror #11) and it was read at the very beginning. And yet, we still had to listen to all of the cop’s testimony. This was equivalent to wanting to know what the first sentence of a novel is, and then having the entire novel read to you. The worst part about is was the fact that this was occurring only because Juror #11 is a fucking asshole! It was six o’clock by the time that the court reporter was finished reading the testimony, and we were dismissed until the next day.

 

 

October 15, 2006

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