Defense Seeks to Avoid a Rush to Judgment Verdict

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by Antoinnette Borbon

In the state’s case against a young man from Oregon, who allegedly led authorities on a dangerous high-speed chase, jurors were probed about the ability to make a sound decision without exercising a “rush to judgment verdict.”

During jury selection today, Deputy Public Defender Dan Hutchinson, along with Deputy District Attorney Matt De Moura, questioned  jurors’ ability to decide on a sound verdict if the case becomes handed over to them for deliberation on a Friday.

Mr. Hutchinson asked jurors, “If this case is given to you on a Friday, will you rush to a quick verdict because you do not want to return on Monday?” He explained to potential jurors that, in some trials, that happens.

“Jurors are tired, and they want to go home and they make a rushed decision, I have seen it happen a lot and I do not want you to do that,” Hutchinson asserted.

“No, this is a serious thing to decide on, it should be taken seriously and I will do that,” added a potential juror. All other prospective jurors agreed.

DDA De Moura explained to jurors that the “defense does not have to prove anything to you, I want you to understand, I have the burden of proving my case beyond a reasonable doubt, but I want you to take your time in deciding whether or not I have proven my case.”

Both attorneys seemed intent on making sure the decision process was not taken lightly, but was well thought out. Neither counsel wanted any potential juror to feel they had to make a quick decision.

One potential juror explained to the attorneys that she had previously been selected for a jury trial and, when they were handed the case, “the floor person, who elected himself, dominated us, I felt it was awful, it was a bad experience for me, I felt awful in the decision.”

She explained she did not want to go through that again, if chosen. Another potential juror added, “This is someone’s life, a very serious decision.”

The concern of the defense, as stated above, was that, if jurors were handed the case on a Friday, as sometimes happens, jurors would not want to come back on the following Monday, so they are tempted to make a rushed judgment.

But the potential jury members asserted they could still make a sound decision on a verdict, even if they had to return on a Monday.

A jury panel consisting of six men and six women were chosen and opening arguments began.

The trial is estimated to end on Friday.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch puts 8 to 12 interns into the Yolo County House to monitor and report on what happens. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org

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7 thoughts on “Defense Seeks to Avoid a Rush to Judgment Verdict”

  1. hpierce

    Comment made primarily so you won’t feel bad if no-one read your post.  Read it.  Sounds like both defense and prosecution did not want a “rush to a decision”.  Good job in reporting.  Headline might have read “both sides do not want a ‘hurried’ verdict”.  But suspect you had no input on ‘headline’.  Good reporting.

  2. Themis

    One potential juror explained to the attorneys that she had previously been selected for a jury trial and, when they were handed the case, “the floor person, who elected himself, dominated us, I felt it was awful, it was a bad experience for me, I felt awful in the decision.”

    Unfortunately, I have heard this type of comment many times. I have also heard  about biased jurors that where supposedly rehabilitated by the judge but in the jury room they seemed way too eager to convict.

    1. sisterhood

      My personal Sac Co. and Yolo Co. jury participation –  a DUI case started late Wed. afternoon prior to Labor Day weekend. All morning Friday, a woman juror whined about a long weekend to Lake Tahoe being ruined, and how she wanted us t make up our minds so she could salvage her vacation. (Her decision was guilty,  because “the cops wouldn’t have pulled him over if he wasn’t drunk”.) )I had no idea I could pass a note to the guard, telling him I felt pressured I didn’t ask any of my lawyer friends about this because we were instructed not to discuss the case. I didn’t want to “bother” the judge with my concerns. Also, the rest of the jury was convinced as we took our first count about 30 minutes after arriving. No one wanted to examine the breathalizer error rate testimony, even though the DUI was right on the cusp.

      Other trial, Yolo – alternate juror, possible a three strike felony- tons of testimony to consider, trial lasted several days. Jury decided guilty in approximately forty minutes.

    2. sisterhood

      My personal Sac Co. and Yolo Co. jury participation –  a DUI case started late Wed. afternoon prior to Labor Day weekend. All morning Friday, a woman juror whined about a long weekend to Lake Tahoe being ruined, and how she wanted us t make up our minds so she could salvage her vacation. (Her decision was guilty,  because “the cops wouldn’t have pulled him over if he wasn’t drunk”.) I had no idea I could pass a note to the guard, telling him I felt pressured. I didn’t ask any of my lawyer friends about this because we were instructed not to discuss the case. I didn’t want to “bother” the judge with my concerns. Also, the rest of the jury was convinced as we took our first count about 30 minutes after arriving. No one wanted to examine the breathalizer error rate testimony, even though the DUI was right on the cusp. Maybe the math/statistic info was too tough for them to understand? Other trial, Yolo – alternate juror, possible a three strike felony- tons of testimony to consider, trial asted several days. Jury decided guilty in approximately forty minutes.

      1. sisterhood

        P.S. Second trial had an expert witness (state worker with ties to the D.A.’s office) testify re: the tape recording in the back of the cop car, because it was so muddled no one could understand what the accused was saying.

  3. Antoinnette

    Thank you hpierce…I felt it something to elaborate on. Both counsels did a great job in selecting jurors.

    Agree, Themis, I have heard people talk about bad experiences too, sadly, after the verdict.

  4. Antoinnette

    I am glad stories like those on here in comments are coming out. This is a topic that is crucial for attorneys and judges to hear in my opinion. These cases are put in the hands of jurors with the understanding they will abide by the instructions ALL of the instructions but you would be surprised at how many times they are Not.

    Thank you for sharing!

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