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Local legal experts caution against hasty second-guessing of a jury
Rochester, N.Y. – In high-profile cases, there is a gaping discrepancy between the takeaway of jurors and the rest of the public.
Jurors sit through the entire trial, listening to every word of every witness.
“The public is denied that,” said local attorney, Donald Rehkopf. “They get snippets and you wonder sometimes if it’s the same case.”
On the flip side, the public often has access to information, like criminal histories, that does not make it before the jurors.
Defense attorney James Hinman says this gap should give the public pause before they condemn a jury’s verdict.
“(The public) is not sitting through all of the trial, they’re relying on reports they get from others, they are subject to what others bring to the case,” Hinman said.
Rehkopf adds jurors deliberate under rigid instructions from the judge.
For example, a charge is accompanied by a list of elements the prosecutor must prove.
If jurors hold reasonable doubt over just one of those elements, they must find the defendant not guilty of that charge.
Rehkopf also points out jurors are told to remove emotion from their deliberation.
“I have tried hundreds of jury trials and I have spoken with jurors who say down deep we think you’re guy did, but the prosecution couldn’t tie it up together,” Rehkopf said.
All this is not to say juries are never wrong, Rehkopf says, just that there is more involved in their verdict than some know.