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.

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