While reading Dahlia Lithwick's excellent analysis of the Moussaoui verdict I was reminded of an episode last week that left me puzzled. What happened was that one of the jurors asked for a dictionary, the judge refused, and the juror looked the word up at home.


For the record, the word was 'aggravating' and this is what my dictionary says:
[Latin 'aggravare', from 'ad-', to + 'gravare', to burden (from 'gravis', heavy)]

Making worse.

Incidentally, after the episode the judge did tell the jury what aggravating means. She said, "The word 'aggravating' essentially means to make something worse."

Actually, that's the definition of 'aggravate', but close enough for horseshoes and capital murder cases is what I say.

What I'm really curious about, though, is the judge's rationale. One thing's for sure, the ex post facto explanation doesn't scan:
The juror later admitted to the judge that he made the investigation contrary to Brinkema's instructions, saying he thought her mandate against research was limited to Internet surfing. Brinkema ruled that the breach of her directions was not intentional or material, but told jurors that they all had to work from the same information, and encouraged them to send her notes if they were not sure of something. |Jurist|

If the concern is that every juror work from the same information, then the judge should have provided a dictionary when asked. Also, she should have taken measures to insure that every member of the jury pool had precisely the same experiences from birth onward.

No comments:

Post a Comment

eXTReMe Tracker