Monday, January 25, 2010

And the verdict is...

So now I have done my civic duty twice within a week. Last Tuesday voting in the distinct minority--at least as far as Amherst and Cambridge are concerned--for Ted Kennedy's Senate replacement and today reporting for duty to the Superior Courthouse in Northampton for Jury duty.

There were about 60 of us crowded into a room that looks built to handle half that amount, with one older medium size color tv in a corner with somewhat lousy reception. We arrived at 8:00 AM and let go about two hours later.

Apparently the perp decided to plead guilty at the last moment, after 7 of 14 jurors had been selected last week and seven more would come from my group of 60. The judge told us that our willingness to serve could easily have set the stage for the last minute plea bargain.

Since the case concerned sexual assault and it would have taken seven days of trial, I'm relieved that I did not have to serve, although going through the process would have been interesting. Except of course, jurors can't read newspapers, watch TV news or use the Internet. Going cold turkey for a week would have been hard on this humble news junkie blogger.

Thus the system worked. And like country that created it, perhaps not perfect but certainly better than anything others may offer.

Which is why I defended the right of convicted terrorist Ray Levasseur to speak at the Umass Library symposium on those turbulent days gone by. The man paid his dues and did not forever surrender his rights as an American citizen.

And I also supported on the floor of Amherst Town Meeting the idea of allowing CLEARED Gitmo refugees to relocate to our little town. As long as the word cleared equates to innocent.

If we as Americans cherish our system of justice, then let it apply to all! Bring 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to New York City for a civilian trial. Let the justice system he tried to destroy demonstrate to the entire world why we cherish it so.

President Obama bows out of jury duty


Ed said...

The issue I have with the "cleared" GITMO terrorists is one of equity. Why should he/she/it have priority over the nice Irish Christian who also would like to come to Amherst?

Fair is fair, isn't it????

LarryK4 said...

Nobody is stopping the Irish Christian from coming to Amherst (although if they read up on our little town...)

Anonymous said...

What's so special about Irish Christians?

Ed said...

Actually, they are. If they want to come to America legally...


Anonymous said...
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LarryK4 said...

Because Ed, if they are cleared/innocent then we have jailed them unfairly for a considerable length of time.

I would say citizenship is a fair counterbalance.

Anonymous said...


Thank your for your service to the Commonwealth.

The six most powerful words to resolve a criminal case: "The Commonwealth is ready for trial."

The next five most powerful words (from the Judge): "The jury is coming down."

You'd be surprised how many criminal defendants wait until these words before getting serious about resolution of their cases.

Rich Morse

LarryK4 said...

It was nice to see a cross section of my peers ready to perform.

And there was no snickering or whining--everybody seemed up for the task.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I'm at sidebar during jury selection (for me that's 6-12 times a year), and I'm listening with the judge and defense counsel to these pathetic excuses to get out of jury duty, I constantly find myself thinking about the opening minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" with the American boys in the boats heading toward the French shore, knowing what awaits them, knowing what they have to do.

Rich Morse

LarryK4 said...

I think our President is busy enough to be excused, but not to many others.

Rich said...

I don't think you'd want to be on that KSM trial as a juror. Obviously you didn't hear about the Arab spectator in the current MIT trained female terrorist trial who trained his thumb and index finger at jurors, suggesting that they are now targets. Is that a price an American civilian should pay? Should they even be subjected to the threat? And we all know there will be many more threats in NYC for the upcoming trials. KSM and his ilk belong in a military tribunal. Anyone with common sense knows this.