Recently, a verdict was handed down in one of the most publicized trials of the year in Rochester. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. No “verdict” was ever given. The jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision even after deliberating for 8 days. It was a mistrial.
The details of the case read something like an episode of 48 hours. A college aged young man was accused of shooting his father with a shotgun and killing him. But, not so fast! As with any good crime show, there was a backstory. The father was an alleged serial abuser. The mother was in the home at the time of the murder. Perhaps most intriguingly, the prosecution was never able to actually prove that the gun was ever in the hands of the alleged killer.
Yesterday, when everyone was gathered to determine a date for a new trial, the judge did an unexpected thing. He threw out the case completely. He accused the DA of doing a poor job with the case and set the man free.
If you live in Rochester, you probably have an opinion on the case. Was it a miscarriage of justice? Was it proof that our legal system works? People have reacted in different ways.
I felt a peculiar connection to yesterday’s decision. I know the judge. There I go, exaggerating again! We aren’t Facebook friends or anything but I was a juror in his courtroom last summer.
It was another complicated case. A man was accused of almost killing another man but the murder weapon was never found. As a matter of fact, the weapon was never even seen by the person who was attacked. Our jury had to decide if the accused committed the crime.
Ultimately, being on a jury was a lot tougher than I ever expected. Our deliberations lasted a day and a half. I barely slept the night before we handed down our decision.
Throughout the length of the trial I observed as the judge acted in fairness. He spelled out every detail of the law for us so that we could understand. He was compassionate to people who needed it and was firm when it was required.
After the trial, the judge came to the deliberation chambers to process the trial with us. He shared wisdom gained from years on the bench and answered any question we threw his way.
When the announcement of his decision hit the news yesterday, I didn’t think twice about it. I assumed the judge had made the right call. Then I asked myself, “why”? I think it’s because I had learned to trust him.
Ultimately, I think a lot of us spend our lives trying to “sit on the judge’s bench” in the lives of others.
Maybe a better use of our time would be getting to know the Judge really well and learning to trust Him.
In the end, that will be the most important thing for any of us.