Quote of the Day - Finally, we are going to have the chance to have a court hear the facts that the prosecutors refused to allow the jury to hear, which is why 5 out of 12 jurors asked for this result. Truth and facts are what make our system of justice work.
When the time comes to pick a jury, it's the lawyer's job to determine the ideal juror to decide your case. Let me give a couple of examples. When you've got a case that involves technical issues, you tend to seek engineers and other similarly employed people to ensure the jurors understand the points you're about to make in a complicated trial. On the other hand, when you've got a personal injury case (and depending whether you're a plaintiff or defendant), you may be looking for a juror with a more liberal or conservative (respectively) viewpoint.
Let's look at one other example. You're a criminal lawyer. To be more specific, you're a criminal defense lawyer. OK, to be entirely specific, you're representing a criminal defendant charged with possession of marijuana.
Who's your ideal juror? If you said Cornelia Mayo, you'd be right.
Well, let's be truthful here. As the lawyer picking this jury, you'd be looking for someone open-minded about drug use. In fact, if you could find someone who's at least hinting that they've smoked pot before (but didn't inhale, of course), then that person might be an ideal juror. A scofflaw, to be exact.
That's OK. It's called a jury of your peers. Well, it doesn't mean, however, that you get a jury of others who also smoke pot. What the Constitution really means is that it's not the King that's trying the case, it's being heard fellow citizens. You have to think back to the times when the framers wrote the Constitution. They were not happy with King George's penchant of just throwing his enemies in jail without a trial, and especially without a jury. But I'm getting sidetracked.
As a criminal defense lawyer, if you can get one or two pot smokers on your jury, then you have a higher (no pun intended) chance of winning your trial.
Oh right. I forgot. She was a potential juror for a pot-smoking trial in Houston, Texas. As a dutiful citizen, she showed up for the jury pool and was directed to Judge Sherman Ross's courtroom to see whether she'd be impaneled to sit for this jury. After she and the other potential jurors arrived, the judge gave instructions, and he and the prosecutor and defense lawyer asked the jury pool a few questions. After a grueling morning, Judge Ross gave the jurors a 45-minute break.
Cornelia Mayo didn't come back from the break. As he was getting ready to issue a bench warrant for her arrest (judge's don't take kindly to jurors who skip out on their civic duty, especially in Texas), Judge Ross's bailiff got a call from police.
They had arrested Ms. Mayo on the front steps of the courthouse and she was going to spend at least overnight in jail, with $500 in bail. Understandable that she didn't come back from the break.
Too bad for the criminal defense lawyer and his client, however. She was arrested for allegedly smoking pot on the courthouse steps.
You can read more stories like this one in my How to Get Sued book from Kaplan Publishing to be released June 3rd.