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A fast verdict

Verdict returned on Aurora gunman, guilty on all 165 counts. I don’t really have any commentary on the case itself, other than profound sadness at the senselessness of it all, anger about gun control issues; the standard feeling I have about mass shootings.

What I did want to comment on is the “speed” of the verdict. 165 counts decided in about 12-13 hours, depending on the article you read. I’ve seen multiple people mention that this is fast or speedy in a sort of wondering way. With that kind of time, it averages out to about 4-5 minutes spent per count.

I actually don’t think it’s that fast, all told. I’m not the world’s greatest expert on juries, but I’ve now actually gotten to serve on one, which is an experience I know isn’t universal, so I thought I’d share a little. It is so not like TV.

The case I served on was civil rather than criminal, but I get the impression the process is fairly similar. (I just haven’t blogged about it before now because, while I’m allowed to talk about it if I want, I’m uncomfortable with the notion of getting in to details.) Anyway, the trial I served on lasted about three and a half days. We had seven questions to consider at the end; I was foreman for the jury. And it basically went like this: I’d read the question out loud, poll the other jurors, and if the answer was unanimous, move on. It took us about 25 minutes to cover 7 questions (averaging <4 minutes per question). And the only reason it actually took that long was because there was one question where we disagreed about a monetary amount and decided to discuss in order to regain our unanimity (which was unnecessary, technically, since I was the hold out, but we wanted to be unanimous if we could), and then a pause when we wrote a question to the judge for clarification just to be sure about something. Had neither of those things happened, we would have finished all seven questions in well under 10 minutes.

So I’m not claiming to know what exactly went on in deliberations, but I’m not necessarily surprised. You don’t really discuss if everyone agrees already. So to me, it doesn’t sound like they rushed, it sounded like the jurors probably agreed on nearly everything and maybe just had a issues they had to talk about. I just wanted to point this out in case there’s an impression that maybe things weren’t given enough gravity just due to speed; if everyone has been attentive and serious about the issues, they probably already know how they will vote on the various charges as they sit down. And if everyone agrees? It’s going to be quick.

I’m guessing the prosecution did a really good job, though obviously I don’t know one way or another. But that’s immediately what it sounded like to me.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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