Friday, January 29, 2016

Reasonable Doubt

What could possibly be more All-American than jury duty? This is from March 18, 2012.

It was kind of overshadowed by the Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos news but after three summonses to appear for jury duty and never being selected, I was chosen today! It was traffic court and the charge was failure to control speed. A young man in a car ran into a couple in a pickup truck last year on a rainy afternoon at an intersection in Houston. No one denied there was a collision but the prosecutor claimed the car driver was not paying attention and the defense attorney countered that the man at the wheel of the truck was turning from a center lane. It all came down to two words: reasonable doubt. That's what our deliberation hinged on and we all had doubts. There was no choice for us- the verdict was not guilty. There were twelve of us involved in the case; jury, judge, bailiff, court recorder, defendant, two witnesses, two attorneys. At 3:15 PM, we went our separate ways, never to be reconfigured. I got back to school just as the parking lot was thinning. I was out $5 for parking, $7 for lunch in the Houston Police Cafeteria- I'll vouch for the lasagna-, a gallon of gas, and a day away from my students which I can never get back. (I'll also be receiving a $6 check in the mail shortly for my service in our legal system.) But, I learned some things and I did my civic duty. My folks and all my history/government teachers would have been proud.

Here's what I liked about the day. I found out six strangers, average citizens all, can cooperate, enjoy each others' company, discuss legal issues with intelligence, and even maybe semi-bond. I liked that the prosecuting attorney and the defense lawyer were courteous to each other, even cordial. I liked that both the car driver and the truck driver and his passenger wife were likable and although they had different memories/interpretations of the events, it was not a hostile situation. The judge was friendly and made the pertainable law understandable. And when it was over, Her Honor thanked us, the prosecutor thanked us, and the defense attorney thanked us. In my inexperienced opinion, justice was served today.

Let me go back to those two words I used earlier. It was up to the government to prove their case and the standard was, once again, reasonable doubt. The city attorney did a good job and asked good questions but all six of us who were impaneled were not convinced. Without going into any details of the case, my vote was sealed by one factor in the incident. I had to vote for acquittal and although each of us may have had different reasons for our conclusion, it was the same conclusion. As I've rehashed the day in the intervening hours, I've come to a decision about me and my innocence in the sight of the Lord. I'm guilty and there is no reasonable doubt that I'm guilty. The Scripture refer to Satan as the accuser and I've given him plenty of ammunition. Sometimes, I think he doesn't even have to break a sweat on me. Do you remember the old Paul Simon song, Still Crazy After All These Years? My favorite line has always been,
But I would not  be convicted by a jury of my peers....
Well, I would be convicted by a jury of my peers if all the evidence were laid out but fortunately for me, it's not and even more fortunately for me, I have a special relationship in the only court setting to matter for eternity. The apostle wrote this in 1 John 2:1-2:
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Do you know what I believe? I'm not innocent...but I'm clean. I'm undoubtedly going to fall again.... but the blood of Jesus constantly washes away the stains. I'm guilty.... but my punishment has been terribly, and wonderfully, taken by my Messiah. And I'm saved...beyond a reasonable doubt.

Applicable quote of the day:
When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.
Norm Crosby

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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