Last September, I wrote a long series of articles about my service on a jury hearing a case in which the defendant—whom I called “Jose”—was accused of assault and battery against a police officer. At the end of the 3-day trial, we found him guilty.
After I wrote the first four articles about the case—Voir Dire, Testimony, Verdict, and Reflections—I had one more article planned. It would be titled “Jury Duty: Sentence”, and it would come out right after the judge pronounced his sentence.
But, as I explained in a followup piece in May, I couldn’t get any information about the case on the day of the sentencing hearing, except that it was continued to a later date. I didn’t know how to find out anything more. I don’t know anything about how criminal sentencing really works, but I speculated that perhaps Jose had been sentenced to some sort of court supervision which kept his sentence out of the official record.
The truth turns out to be more interesting. When I was in court last month for a traffic ticket, I asked my lawyer how to find out what happened, and he showed me how to use the public access terminal. The defendant’s name turned out to be pretty common, but we eventually found the right case, and I finally found out what happened to Jose.
Jose never showed up in court again. There’s a warrant out for his arrest. I imagine that if he’s ever caught, the judge will not go easy on him.
At the end of the last day of the trial, after the verdict, the judge had visited us in the jury room and told us a few things about the case. It turned out that Jose had a clean record, and the judge told us that he thought Jose was just a young man who had made a mistake. For that reason, he decided not to take Jose into custody to await sentencing. I wonder if he regrets that.
He also told us that there was a chance Jose would receive probation. As we filed out of the courtroom later, we passed the defendant and his lawyers. It occurs to me now that if I’d repeated the judge’s words to one of his lawyers, Jose might be in a lot less trouble right now.