In Maricopa County, Arizona, a wet, gray, cold chill sweeps across the valley. The sky casts an ominous pale over Phoenix; oddly apropos for what 12 people have to do today. A Superior Court jury of 8 women and 4 men begins its third day with the grim task of working to decide whether convicted murderer, Jodi Arias lives or dies.
This is no easy enterprise, although to an avid trial watcher, it would seem so. The plethora of evidence, the smoke and mirrors mitigation, the lack of allocution. Open and shut?
Not even close.
There’s a vast gulf between the emotion triggered by this case and the reality of checking a box that reads, “Death.” A jury has the unenviable task of separating the wheat from the chaff, removing emotion from the equation, pouring over stacks of evidence, to arrive at a place where, based on the rule of law, justice is served.
The public’s thirst for an expeditious verdict is understandable. It’s been nearly 7 years since Arias murdered Travis Alexander, nearly 2 years since the verdict in the guilt phase of her trial, and nearly 5 months since the sentencing phase began. Jury selection commenced on September 29th of last year. For anyone seeking resolution, its a seemingly mind-numbing exercise in futility.
Imagine what it’s like for the jurors.
The sacrifice these people have made and the toll it’s no doubt taken on their lives really can’t be measured. They were told, disingenuously, they’d be needed for just a couple of months, that the trial would end before Christmas. But here they still are– putting jobs on hold, family on hold, lives on hold. And can you imagine giving up all forms of social media for 5 months? I mean, if I had to give up Twitter for more than hour, its conceivable I might turn into a Uruguayan rugby player trapped in the Andes turning to cannibalism to survive.
These jurors deserve our respect.
“We don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.” - Taylor Swift
We need to respect this jury. Its clear they don’t take the job lightly. Given the circumstances, they could have rendered a decision rooted in haste and exited stage left. Instead, this jury brought in the ubiquitous crock pot and worked through lunch. They asked Judge Sherry Stephens if they were allowed to study trial notes at home over the weekend. That’s telling. They want to make an educated and informed decision. (By the way, jurors are not allowed to takes their notes home.)
These jurors deserve our respect.
Historically, juries in high-profile cases face the vitriol of a thousand trolls. Casey Anthony. Ferguson. OJ Simpson. It’s almost always unfounded. A jury’s efforts, despite the outcome, whether the decision is diametrically opposed to ours, isn’t without sacrifice, study, and a commitment to serving justice, and serving it well. Although Simpson’s jury might have been the most half-witted collection of rubes ever assembled in a court of law.
When the Jodi Arias jury does arrive at it’s decision, we might consider heeding the words of freelance writer Ashly Lorenzana…
“It’s okay to disagree with the thoughts or opinions expressed by other people. That doesn’t give you the right to deny any sense they might make. Nor does it give you a right to accuse someone of poorly expressing their beliefs just because you don’t like what they are saying.”
So, if the Jodi Arias jury renders a verdict we find distasteful, with which we don’t agree, it doesn’t change one indisputable truth– this jury deserves, nay, demands, our respect.