I remember the day the jury returned the verdict acquitting O.J. Simpson.
I was a senior in high school (yes, that dates me) and our school cancelled class to gather us in Gills Hall and watch the foreman read the jury’s verdict live.
I believe it was an attempt to teach us something about the judicial branch and the role of juries in society. Whatever the intent, I remember the shock and surprise we all felt.
How could that jury not have seen the defendant’s guilt? Did the defendant’s celebrity status so affect the trial that justice for the victims was not possible?
I felt the same kind of sadness this week, but I am no longer surprised by the outcome. Juries are unpredictable because people are unpredictable. Asking a group of strangers to agree on an outcome is inherently a difficult process. But our justice system also requires an unyielding faith in trial by jury. It is a constitutional right, and the jury is the conscience of the community.
No one, except the jurors, can appreciate how difficult it is to reach the right conclusion in every case – that justice will be done.