Jury deliberation in the Deedy case is entering its fourth full day, so what does that mean? The answer: absolutely nothing. The only thing it means is everybody who told you that this was an obvious case, that it’s a slam-dunk, that either Deedy is going to prison or the defense is obviously going to win, they are all wrong.
The First Five Minutes in the Jury Room
Often, juries work like this: They first go in and take a few minutes to an hour for everybody get comfortable. While they’ve been together for a month, and spoken about life and TV and the Warriors, they still haven’t spoken about the only thing that has brought them all together, the case. The first reaction is always testing the waters, not pissing the other jurors off. They are willing to give soft noncommittal directed suggestions of what they think is probably the right outcome. And while they are willing to say which direction they are leaning, very rarely, very rarely do they immediately assert one side is completely correct. That is, unless it is obvious that one side is completely correct.
What is interesting about the flow of this case is the way the general public, as the first testimony came out, said “oh wow guaranteed he’s guilty. How do you get drunk and then need to pull a gun during a fistfight? Until four days later, and all of a sudden, starting with the emergency room doctor Deedy wasn’t even drunk. Then you get to the Security Guard, who all but canonized Deedy. And once Deedy testified credibly, it seemed to be universal that people were were just waiting for the “not guilty” verdict.
Anybody who told you that this will be a slam dunk-quick not guilty, all of those people were wrong.
Reporting on Jury Trials
Reporting on a Jury trial is naturally deficient. News can report what witnesses say, but it is impossible to report what juries believe. A newspaper can report the facts, but it cannot report on the credibility of them. Did the witness testify honestly or horribly? TV News can show you a six-second blurb, but credibility often turns on one mistake, one look, or one change in emotion. For that reason we who follow along the newspapers can read what people say happened, but we can never know the credibility of the story.
So what we are left with when a jury is out a minimum of three or more days, no matter how much evidence is accepted, is at least two people disagree about the outcome of what the evidence is. I don’t care how much evidence has been brought into a case, or how many days or how many experts or how many eyewitnesses exist. Juries may spend a day going over evidence just to be conscientious, but more likely they’ll decide quickly. But no one is being conscientious for three days when everyone agrees, a verdict that takes this long people are discussing what evidence actually came out. There are at least two different sides and people want to discuss what happened in that McDonald’s.
Will the Deedy Trial be a Hung Jury
The interesting thing about hung juries as there’s often no jury instruction set says okay to have a hung jury. There’s no jury instruction that says if you can’t reach a conclusion let us know, and the judge will let you go home and make everyone try again. Juries figure this out for themselves when they just can’t come to a conclusion. Is that what is happening in this case?
Is a hung jury something that benefits in the prosecution or defense. I posit in case like this a hung jury would benefit prosecution, and the reason why is to do another trial of this magnitude, Deedy would probably have to pay his lawyers as well as experts an additional fee. What that means is sometimes you can’t afford the same lawyer, so you get a cheaper lawyer for the second go around. In addition often you have to use the experts transcript, instead of the experts themselves. What that means is the next jury can’t hear the expert himself, or factor in the expert’s credibility on the stand.
Another important thing to factor in is, have there been any jury communications.
Facts and Law in Jury deliberations
Jury communications are often not reported until later, because they are discussed in the back. But it is always interesting when jury communications get sent. It is the only method, after selection, juries can communicate with the court and the lawyers. Now, rarely are there jury communications about facts. For example, rarely will juries ask, “what happened, was it A or B”, and if they do, the judge will admonish them to look to their collective memory to decide.
On the other hand if the question is a question of law, ie “Is it okay for Defendant to defend himself IF ______?” That is a much more common jury communication. And this is a question of the application of facts to law.
Remember, juries have two duties, the first is to determine “What happened”, the second is to determine “Is what happened illegal as described by the law the judge has presented to us”. Juries often do not disagree too heavily about the “What happened”. They heard the same evidence, they saw the same “tells” from the witnesses, and if one person is confused
Generally the way it breaks down is this, they won’t hang over what happened, they WILL hang over whether what happened meets the law. Put another way, they’ll all agree whether Deedy shot first, said “I’m going to kill you”, or kicked Elderts. But, if they hang, they’ll disagree on whether (for example) the kick is what triggered the fight, or Elderts grabbing for the gun is what triggered the need for self-defense.
My prediction, we’ll get a Not Guilty verdict before noon. If the jury goes past 2:00 pm, the jury will be hung. And it will all be done today.1 Comment