Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Doing My Duty - Part 2

"Can you read my mind?"

This was the first question that the prosecuting attorney asked of any of the Jurors, and it was, unsurprisingly, directed at me.  

I took a moment to consider my answer.  The first and most cheeky option ran along the lines of:

"Yes - you are thinking that if I claim to be able to read minds, you don't want me on the jury."

Despite being sorely tempted to lead with this, I was confident that my answer would be perceived as impertinence, and, however accurate the statement might be, it would be frowned upon by the presiding magistrate.

I then considered my second answer, and that was to tell the prosecuting attorney that, despite his current station in life, he was a very artistic person who many years ago had opted to forgo chasing their dreams of pursuing a music career in exchange for something that would pay the bills.  This indicated a deeply cautious and pragmatic nature, though he was reasonably happy in his career choices, as the courtroom lent him the artistic and creative license (at times) that comprised his natural inclination.  He felt his job had value and purpose, but often wondered, especially at this point in his life, whether he hadn't been fashioned to do something finer.

I was confident of my second answer, the prosecuting attorney was left-handed and therefore more creative and less analytic in nature.  Additionally, he had been chewing absent-mindedly at callouses on his fingertips whose presence indicated that he played the guitar or some other stringed instrument.  He must have been in his mid-fifties - an age where many men have existential crises of identity.  My conclusions were shaped from there.  

I could not, however, proffer this as an answer.  I was certain that my reading would have been alarmingly accurate, and that it would have led to far too many questions.

We had been instructed the previous day not to do any research into any of the players in this case, and I doubted very much that any interpretation would be placed on my statement that did not lead them to believe that I had not transgressed this one rule.

In fact, I had at that point gathered every piece of information that I needed, and was confident that I could predict the outcome of the trial.  Again, this was not a viable answer, and I was certainly not going to say something that could have tainted the proceedings in any way (though, as you will soon discover, I was completely accurate in all my conclusions).

I therefore answered as follows:

"I can make you believe that I can."

The prosecuting attorney paused to consider this deflection before following up.

"Can you see the danger of letting someone believe that you can read minds?"

This was a question that was more easily answered.

"You are concerned that if I am selected to the jury, another juror may place more weight on my opinions."

The prosecuting attorney nodded.  I continued.

"With respect, I think your job is to ensure that you make sure that the jury is composed of people who will think for themselves."

I was dismissed from the case that afternoon.  The trial was concluded by the end of the week, and I was subsequently free to do my own research into the matter and verify what I had expected all along -  that despite his squeaky-clean appearance, the defendant had a long and storied criminal past and had been found guilty of the charges brought against him, and that the prosecuting attorney had often frequented a local coffee shop with an open mike, playing guitar and singing for those who gathered there.

Next week, I will tell you how I knew.

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