I recently finished jury duty. It was a life changing experience. It was a murder trial. What surprised me most was the reaction of people to the jury's verdict. We received a lot of hostile comments because we found the defendant guilty of Second Degree Murder, not First Degree Premeditated.
What most people do not seem to remember is that jurors are chosen from a pool of people who have no knowledge of the case and have to make their decision based upon what the lawyers present in court. I was a trifle upset because it seemed that either the police department did a very poor job of investigating the crime, or the State Attorney chose not to present certain evidence and witnesses. There seemed to be no definitive evidence. Because a lot of questions were not answered by the testimony and evidence, the jury had to go with reasonable doubt and find the defendant guilty of Second Degree Murder. There just was not enough proof of premeditation. The jury was very serious in their deliberations and reviewed much of the testimony and evidence.
Decisions like this are not easy and must be made very carefully. It is a very serious business because you not only have the life of the defendant in your hands and your decision will have a deep impact on everyone involved, including the jury.
It was a very interesting process. I would like to make a suggestion to any attorneys of similar cases: have an uninterested party read through your evidence and make a list of unanswered questions and what evidence is missing. These additional items just might make a difference in the verdict.