When I sat on a jury in Queens in 2008, it was a case dealing with a man charged with unlawful possession of a gun. The case itself wasn’t very complex, but the female DA who was against the defendant, thought she was on Law and Order.
The DA was about 30 in age, attractive, driven, and very dramatic. Everything she said ended with a slow burn to the jury, and then a pregnant pause as she ran back to her notes. Then, as soon as she was caught up with her objective, she would start pacing the floor dramatically.
We were in court for 3 days, and the jury decided quickly that we didn’t like her. She could have been a fabulous DA, but the over dramatic presentation of everything was like watching a poorly acted stage version of Criminal Intent, and we all turned against her.
Unfortunately for the DA, the evidence she brought against the defendant was full of reasonable doubt, so despite one Haitian man holding out because he thought the defendant was a gang banger, we all decided the defendant was not guilty. Did the man posses the gun illegally? Absolutely. But was there definitive evidence that his story wasn’t true? Not at all.
When juror#1 announced the verdict of not guilty, the defendant cried and the DA let out a sigh of disgust. As they released the jury, the DA stood and in what felt like slow motion, she made eye contact with every one of us and shook her head in disapproval.
I wish we could have told her that despite her lack of evidence, her demeanor in the courtroom cost her the case. That her dramatic flair lost the respect of everyone on the jury. Looking back, it may have been a tactic to cover up the fact that she had no solid evidence against the defendant, but we were smarter than that.
In the end I hope the defendant learned his lesson, but I truly hope the DA learned to take it down a notch. I believe she could find herself more successful if she did.