As yet unscheduled is the hearing where Judge Marlene Alva will haul all of the jurors in the Mitch Needelman corruption trial back into court to answer for their alleged actions during the trial. “Juror Rivera” (the only identification we have for this miscreant) has said the jury misbehaved by discussing the case against judicial direction from day one, among other things. And while he claims that made him feel bad, he didn’t have the guts to mention this to any bailiff or to bring it up to the jury itself.
Rivera was intimidated by other jurors into voting guilty when he did not believe Needelman was guilty, or so we are to believe. A noted politician has his freedom handing in the balance, a former law enforcement officer could be (and subsequently is) sitting in jail and this model citizen thinks so little of the process he refuses to do the right thing in a timely manner.
This clown of a juror waited until after the trial and approached the defense attorney to tell him of the bad conduct and, what, seek absolution? Maybe, who knows the motivation of this less than qualified juror? And that’s the problem. And maybe it’s not all Rivera’s fault.
We take the most important decision of someone else’s life, one that can take away freedom for many years, and hand it over to a bunch of rookies who supposedly know little of the system in which they make this decision and expect them to be expert at it. That is a mistake.
The selection system for jurors is at best flawed with attorneys angling for the best outcome for their side in the selection process. They should be looking for competent people who can understand simple instructions and have the ability to civilly interact with their counterparts. There should also be a professional jury advisor in the deliberation room with them to advise on law and procedure when necessary. This would have prevented the fiasco that the Needelman case is becoming.
Now, instead of sentencing the corrupt politician, there is a wrinkle that could set us back to a new trial. And maybe that’s warranted. But, Rivera isn’t totally to blame. When this is done, the system needs a thorough evaluation and new steps to prevent future juries from being so inept.