October 20, 2018

Lessons learned as a Juror, For the Young Woman

As I mentioned in my prior post, I served on a jury earlier this month and it was a real eye-opener. The prosecuting attorney talked about the consequences of getting drunk, the symptoms of the hangover. The consequences are rightly a headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, shakiness, and the like. The consequences are not rape. They are not sexual assault. Alas, crime should not exist, but it does. Don't get me wrong: putting yourself at risk does not excuse the person who would commit a crime. We should all be able to get drunk and go wherever we wish. Perpetrators should all be caught and convicted. Nevertheless, it is prudent to take precautions.
  • Being drunk makes you an easier target for crime.
  • Having another person there with you will not guarantee your safety. There is safety in numbers, but a person can easily be separated from one or even two others. And with more than two others, attention is divided such that one person can be put in danger.
    • Further, your friend may be unable to convince the police that you were kidnapped.
    • If your friend can convince the police that you were kidnapped, an additional crime against you will be over before the police can use things like pinging your phone to find your location.
  • Drunk people are terrible at providing protection, and even worse at coming to your defense.
  • The perpetrator's defense attorney will try to discredit or defeat DNA evidence, and they can be successful.
  • When there is DNA from 3 or more persons (the victim + 2 or more, or when there is sperm from 2 individuals), DNA testing cannot separate the DNA from the various individuals in order to make a match to any individual.
    • And even if they could, you'll find that a conviction is unsatisfactory.
  • Cell phone location records are kept for only 18 months. It may be impossible to use such records for proof since…
  • It can take months for DNA evidence to be tested. Your perpetrator's DNA profile may not yet be in the crime database. It can take months for DNA from another victim to be tested. It can take time to find the defendant, to get his DNA, and months for his DNA to be tested. By then, certain other evidence is no longer available.
  • Although there are cameras everywhere, they are never where the victim needs them to be, or they aren't turned on, or they aren't recording, or the technology isn't working, or the video or audio isn't clear, or it's been so long since the event that the recording has been lost.
    • Even the police's car cam audio may be ineffective because the car isn't pointed in an ideal direction, or because of glare from other lights, or because of the radio being on. Police officers rightly use music to keep them alert during the night shift. They might not turn it off before they get out of their car.
  • Although there are eye witnesses everywhere, eye witnesses are terribly unreliable, and the police will testify to that in court. Eye witnesses don't pay attention until it's too late. Once the witness realizes something is going wrong they will have missed the opportunity to make a rational observation and to commit important details to memory. That can work to your disadvantage, rarely to your advantage.
    • Example: "We took a ride with someone. We were in the car with him for half an hour. Maybe more. But I generally trusted and ignored him. Then, suddenly, after I was out of the vehicle, I realized something was going wrong. After the driver was gone, with my friend still in the car, I realized that I never really looked at him. I can't describe him at all. DAMN IT! And I couldn't get the license plate."
  • The GBI specifically, and the state and district DAs have a large backlog of work and limited time and funds. They will not do everything possible for your case. They will do what they think is just sufficient, and efficient.

I don't believe young women understand how easily they can be abducted; nor do they realize how hard it is to catch the perpetrator; nor how little satisfaction would come from a conviction. The victim will live with and relive the pain the rest of her life.

The same goes for parents. I live in a safe, upscale neighborhood, more safe than most, but perhaps not the safest since it's not a gated and guarded community. Nevertheless, I feel safe. My family feels safe. Yet, in the case in question, there was a point in time in which this newly convicted felon lived within two miles of my house. One of his crimes was committed within three miles of my house.

I don't suggest living in fear. I do suggest living one's life with aplomb and gusto, to the fullest. But also with prudence.

Lessons Learned as a Juror, For the Young Man

I served on a jury earlier this month. It was an eye-opener to me. So many decisions are made as one grows up, the odds of making a wrong turn are great. Each bad turn can lead to another; or to repentance and a better direction. "There, but for the grace of God go I." Given this experience, I thought I'd write down some of my thoughts, first for the young man. Later for the young woman.
  • Having sex with someone who is inebriated is rape (assuming no prior valid informed consent for the sake of this article). An inebriated person cannot give informed consent. If a female's judgment is impaired in any way, she cannot give informed consent. If you think she gave consent, you better think again.
    • The penalty for rape can be life imprisonment.
  • If a male has sex with someone who is inebriated or who can claim to be so, she can claim she didn't give consent to the sex.
    • In fact, that person can claim rape even if she wasn't inebriated. Unless there is testimony or video that the jury believes, you can be (justly or unjustly) convicted of rape.
  • You don't realize how much DNA and other evidence you leave behind.
    • A condom will not conceal all evidence, particularly not even all DNA evidence.
  • If you run from the cops, you will get caught. Perhaps later.
    • Running from the cops makes you look guilty of more than you may be guilty of.
  • Being inebriated can cause you to make mistakes and get caught doing stuff that you would not get caught doing if sober.
  • You are more likely to get noticed by cops and pulled over after dark.
  • Certain evidence for your defense such as cell phone records are only kept by the phone companies for 18 months.
    • You may need those records for your defense for longer than that.
    • Evidence for your conviction, however, is kept around for what would seem like a sufficiently long time.
    • This will not work out in your favor.
  • There are cameras everywhere. There are eye witnesses everywhere.
    • Witnesses are unreliable, but that will not work to your advantage.
  • The jury will not believe your explanation. It will sound fantastical to them. Imagine the people in the jury. Do you think any of them have ever been in your situation? Not likely.
  • Public Defenders (state provided attorneys) can be surprisingly bad at their job. While they can also be surprisingly good, and they can be better than private attorneys due to the number of cases they handle (lots of experience) and their knowledge of the juries, of the local law enforcement, of the prosecutors, and of the judges, the big problem is their backlog of work. Their heavy caseload limits the time they can spend on your case.
  • The GBI (or your state bureau of investigation), prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement and DAs have limited funds and will therefore not do every test and collect everything possible. Nevertheless, they will try to win their case.
    • “About 90 percent of the cases end with a plea bargain, and of those cases going to trial, about 90 percent end in a guilty verdict,” (Something I found on the internet -- sorry, I'm quoting this without attribution.)
    • "In the United States, the federal court system, the conviction rose from approximately 75 percent to approximately 85% between 1972 and 1992. For 2012, the US Department of Justice reported a 93% conviction rate. The conviction rate is also high in U.S. state courts. Coughlan writes, "In recent years, the conviction rate has averaged approximately 84% in Texas, 82% in California, 72% in New York, 67% in North Carolina, and 59% in Florida." Wikipedia

If you are a defendant in a criminal case, don't think you'll fare well with a jury. Don't make up a story. Plead guilty, repent, beg for forgiveness, and throw yourself on the mercy of the court.

I don't believe young men realize what constitutes rape; nor do they realize how severe the penalty is. Likewise for any list of crimes. Perhaps that should be taught in school: crime and punishment.

For a biblical perspective on this, consider how this comes about and grows: "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." (James 1:14-15, ESV)

Yet, even if one were to make some big mistakes, he can still have forgiveness from God, salvation and eternal life.

  • For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
  • For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
  • But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NKJV)
  • If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
  • For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13 NKJV)
  • So then faith [comes] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 NKJV)
Yes, it's that simple. You can feel hope once again. You can feel love once again.