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A Juror Holds His Ground

Categories: Drew Whitcup, ZiR

11wegmanWEB-blog480The New York City trial of Pedro Hernandez ended last week in a mistrial. Mr. Hernandez was (and still is) charged with the 1979 murder of six-year-old Etan Patz, a sensational case brought back into the public eye by the defendant’s recent confession. After four months of trial (including seventeen days of jury deliberation), the jurors were unable to reach a unanimous conclusion. More specifically, one juror steadfastly refused to vote with the other eleven for a conviction.

New York Times editorial blogger Jesse Wegman posted a piece on Monday highlighting the jury’s lone holdout and his reasons for standing firm:

[The juror, Adam Sirois’s] longest explanation to date, which he gave in a 45-minute interview published in today’s New York Post, should be required reading for all potential jurors in criminal cases throughout the country. It is one of the most insightful, articulate and self-aware treatises from the inside of this complex American institution, as well as an object lesson in the proper way to approach the juror’s unique role. And it is all the more remarkable for coming in such a high-profile, emotionally anguishing case.

Sirois did not purport to be sure of Mr. Hernandez’ innocence, but said, rather, that he found it impossible to eliminate all reasonable doubt of his guilt:

He understood that the job of the twelve people who spent 100 hours deliberating in that room was to decide not exactly what happened to Etan Patz on May 25, 1979, but whether the prosecution had met its burden of proof against Mr. Hernandez.

‘I’m not absolutely sure that it’s not Pedro Hernandez,’ he said. ‘But that’s [not] how our legal system works.’

—Drew Whitcup, Zeteo Contributing Writer

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