If you’re the type that wants everyone else to like you, maybe you shouldn’t serve on a jury.
The Boston Globe reports today on the second thoughts a juror is having, after he caved quickly to other jurors, even though he was pretty sure the accused was not guilty.
“I feel so bad about this decision,’’ juror Rob Moir tells columnist Thomas Farragher. “This process just went haywire.’’
There are social dynamics involved when a jury has to return a unanimous verdict, which Moir’s jury had to do in the case of a man charged with assault and battery on his wife.
For Moir, the testimony didn’t add up.
When the jury foreman called for a vote, everybody raised their hand except for Moir.
He recalled this jury room exchange: “They say, ‘Rob! He’s guilty!’ And I said, ‘No, he’s innocent until proven guilty. It hasn’t been proven that he did this.’’
What followed was an examination of the victim’s bruises and how they might have been inflicted. “I’m saying, ‘He just pushed her off and that’s not assault and battery. She came at him. That’s justified.’ And this really chummy guy goes at me, saying, ‘Rob, he pushed her as hard as he could. That makes it assault and battery.’ And they’re all nodding, saying, ‘Yeah.’ ’’
And then Moir, to his astonishment, suddenly was with them.
“We all raised our hands and went, ‘Yaay!’ And it’s like: Oh my god, I just (convicted) this guy and I’m thinking, well, the judge will work it out. That’s his problem.’’
“There is a certain cascade effect in the jury room,’’ said Edward Schwartz, a jury consultant.
“You want to be part of the winning team,’’ he said. “The ugly underbelly of that is that when people disagree with the majority sentiment, sometimes that opinion is met with derision, contempt, hostility. If you think you’re a minority of one, it’s a pretty daunting prospect to go out on a limb if you’re the only one who feels that way.’’
Moir sent a letter to the judge.
“I am ashamed that my desire to be part of a group impaired my judgment,’’ he wrote. “I greatly regret my irresponsible actions that resulted in an innocent man being found guilty of something he did not do.’’
“Part of the story is how a well-meaning juror can get distracted by social pressure and not do the right thing,’’ he tells the Globe.
The person convicted will be sentenced on Friday.