I have been resisting commenting on the jury stalemate with regard to awarding the death penalty or life imprisonment to Jodi Arias for her murder conviction. The deadlock was 8 votes for death and 4 for life.
However too many people -- the media and ordinary folk-- are seriously attacking this jury as if they (the faultfinders) could have done a better job in reaching a decision.
The basis of our jury system is that judgment of guilt or innocence is by our peers, our fellow humans who receive zero training in being a jurist. In Arizona, it also means deciding life or death in a first-degree murder trial.
The agitated critics of the final Arias jury decision-not-to-decide need to remember that throughout this trial we the media-watching public were continually being educated in the law and criminal psychology by lawyers, judges and psychologists.
We got to see a different picture of the defendant when she gave a six-hour media-fest of interviews after conviction of aggravated cruelty in the killing of her boyfriend. Her inconsistencies were pointed out. Her mockery and contempt for the jurists and even her own lawyers were noted.
Her "borderline" characteristics, schizoid affect, ability to manipulate and lie, and her lack of sincere remorse were pointed out again and again to us in viewing the different media interviews.
It is easy to forget that the Arias jury saw none of this.
In addition, this jury did not have the benefit of being any more educated about how to decide this case than when they were selected. They had no training in how to evaluate evidence except through their own intuition, experience, and understanding of the legal charge before them.
As if this wasn't enough, these jurists served for a full five months and were physically and emotionally exhausted, as any of us would have been.
Perhaps there should be some psychological counseling during the process and/or daily massages to relieve stress. Perhaps there should be a mandatory week off between deciding guilt or innocence and making a final life or death decision.
But this jury -- as every long-term jury in the country -- received no such services during trial time.
Finally, I served on two juries here in NJ and was appalled at the number of people in my jury pool who made up reasons why they couldn't serve. Both of these cases lasted less than a week and each took hours to find 15 individuals willing to participate.
So I say; kudos to the Arias jury and thumbs down to their critics.
At least this is how it feels on a very rainy day here in Central NJ as we begin the Memorial Day Weekend.
What are your thoughts?
Judy Shepps Battle is a New Jersey resident, addictions specialist, consultant and freelance writer. Her weekly column "It Takes a Village" appeared in the South Brunswick Patch for a year. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. Additional information on this and other topics can be found at her website at http://www.writeaction.com/.
Copyright 2013 Judy Shepps Battle