I had the privilege and challenge of serving on a jury a few months ago. I was impressed with how serious the process is. I was disgusted by how easily the process can be derailed from getting to the truth. (I wrote in more detail about that experience HERE and HERE.)
The defendant was charged with DUI. The evidence was indisputable. The jury had to be unanimous, but the six of us split 4 guilty / 2 not. After five hours of deliberation, nobody changed their minds. The judge declared a mistrial, and the defendant was set free.
I was shocked. In my eyes, the defendant had clearly broken the law. The two jurors who did not agree argued not that the young man had not driven under the influence, but that the evidence was skewed by the police department. Almost immediately, we were off track, arguing the role of government, the people vs. the establishment, and whether or not the judge presiding over this case was corrupt.
It was ridiculous. I learned I don't know enough about our judicial system and neither does the average citizen, five of whom I shared a room with for five hours. I hope I'm never at the mercy of a jury of my peers. We're a squirrely lot.
All I can do is pray the young defendant learned a few things too. Hopefully not to drink and drive. But, sadly, he might have learned if you distract and confuse the masses, you're home free.