Jurors Acquit Suspect, Then Give Him Their Jury Pay

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Interesting story from Cleveland:

Jurors are so convinced that a Cleveland teen should not have been charged with assaulting another teen that they’ve gone beyond acquitting him. A few are writing angry letters to police and intend to donate their jury pay to him. At least three jurors plan to give the $100 they received to sit on the jury to defendant Demrick McCloud, 19, if McCloud earns a high school equivalency degree. They took only 30 minutes to find him not guilty in their deliberations Friday.

Most of the jury could not be reached for comment, but three members complained of a “sheer lack of evidence.”

They said the prosecution’s case hinged on the victim identifying McCloud as an attacker. But the victim also had told police he was certain another boy — later found to be in school at the time — was one of the assailants.

As they were leaving the courthouse, jurors Ana de Freitas Boe, an English professor at Baldwin-Wallace College; Jeanne Knotek, an obstetrician and gynecologist; and alternate juror Richard Nagin discussed ways to help McCloud.

The three have committed to donating their jury stipend to a fund for McCloud. Boe said the amount is too small to compensate McCloud for his jail time, but the jurors intend it as a “show of support.”

“He seemed like a decent kid who was falsely accused,” Nagin said.

I don’t think I’ve ever read about this kind of indignation from a jury before, but it’s nice to see.

The case against McCloud was brought by the office of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer published a long investigation of Mason last year, finding hundreds of cases brought with what legal observers interviewed for the story said was little or no evidence. The investigation also found that Mason’s office brought an unusually high number of cases that were dismissed by judges for insufficient evidence before ever reaching a jury.

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19 Responses to “Jurors Acquit Suspect, Then Give Him Their Jury Pay”

  1. #1 |  cjp | 

    This prosecutor sounds grossly incompetent. Not only did he charge the kid despite having no evidence, he let two people with advanced degrees onto the jury.

  2. #2 |  terraformer | 

    In MA we have a county DA who refuses to dismiss any case brought to the DAs office by police. This means that cases get tried regardless of merit and some with little to no evidence, or worse, exculpatory evidence. The ADAs who want to try and keep the system running somehow sane file motions for stays and the judges eventually dismiss on grounds that the prosecution failed to prosecute in a timely manner.

    I am not sure if the DA is trying to expose the dangers of discretion or is just an idiot.

  3. #3 |  SJE | 

    The prosecutor not only put this innocent kid through hell, he failed to indict the more likely suspect, based on his own evidence.

    In a civil trial, if you bring a ridiculous case the judge can sanction you. Can the judge also do this in a criminal trial?

  4. #4 |  SJE | 

    Sorry, my mistake, the other kid could not have been guilty because he was in school.

    Anyway, from a newspaper article on this out of control prosecutor, Bill Mason:

    “Mason — who built his political career as a pro-death penalty, law-and-order Democrat — makes no apologies. “I see myself as someone holding people accountable for their actions,” Mason said.”

    So, Mr. Mason, you surely would not object to being held accountable for your malicious and ridiculous prosecution of people on the flimsiest of evidence.

  5. #5 |  InMD | 

    At the risk of sounding elitist this outcome struck me as obvious as soon as I saw that there were highly educated professionals on the jury. This isn’t to say that all jurors are troglodytes but the voir dire procedures in a lot of places cause juries to trend older, less educated, conservative and blue collar. Very few prosecutors let anyone who they think is too smart or likely to identify with the accused get on the jury.

  6. #6 |  Difster | 

    Sometimes it seems like there is still some hope. I think this is awesome.

  7. #7 |  Aresen | 

    @ SJE & InMD

    That was the first thing that struck me: People with degrees on the jury!? Particularly the ObGyn juror: Medical professionals really are trained to look at evidence.

  8. #8 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    InMD – Yep, heart of it. Check out the UK’s jury selection system, really. It’s unusual for either side being able to dismiss a juror. (Judges do sometimes, but we’re talking individuals, not multiple…)

  9. #9 |  Pablo | 

    Similar things happen in a lot of jurisdictions, including here in Atlanta:

    http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/rocket-docket-dismissals-rate-855481.html

    The state indigent defense system is broke, in part because the police here love to arrest everyone in a vehicle where drugs are found. Each defedant needs his/her own lawyer of course. The DA’s are also well known for indicting cases without even investigating them.

  10. #10 |  Helmut O' Hooligan's Ghost | 

    I had to come back just to express pleasant suprise, as well as my gratitude to these jurors. This is what being a juror should be about. Your role is not merely to render a verdict. Your job is also to evaluate the professionalism of police and prosecutors, the legality of the tactics they use, and the morality of the laws they are enforcing. Jury nullification is legal, and has been used (for good and for ill, of course) in the U.S. since the colonial era. I definitely advocate its use, especially in drug cases or in cases like McCloud’s. As Radley might say, more of this please!

  11. #11 |  Mister DNA | 

    Totally off topic, but I figured Radley – and other dog lovers – would get a kick out of this:

    http://wins.failblog.org/2011/03/01/epic-win-photos-gilligan-win/

  12. #12 |  Juice | 

    Did the court attendees start chanting Jury! Jury! Jury!?

    If not, I would have.

  13. #13 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I’m surprised that any prosecutor would bring a case to court with little supporting evidence knowing the severe consequences of doing so.

    Just kidding. I know there are no consequences to the prosecutor, just the defendant.

  14. #14 |  EH | 

    yep. if i was the acquitted and i was being interviewed, i’d say something about how the prosecutor doesn’t have to care whether it’s a good case or bad, because nothing will ever happen to him for bringing them.

  15. #15 |  croaker | 

    New Hampshire has had enough of TSA

    http://www.wmur.com/r/27035604/detail.html

    Is a lifetime on the sex offender registry worth a federal paycheck?

  16. #16 |  Jake Witmer | 

    I really love this story. Too bad the jurors didn’t ask to express their judgment on the record that “(It is our view that)the police have behaved criminally, violating their oaths to uphold the Constitution”. Jurors can also recommend that the police and prosecutors be investigated after a Grand Jury indictment. After all, anyone can proclaim business with the Grand Jury. They can also recommend that the victim be awarded damages for his mistreatment. Jurors can enter any statements they wish into the official record, either prior to giving their verdict, or after giving it. Typically, they ask the judge if they can make an additional statement after reading the verdict.

    It’s one case of millions more to follow, when the USA find its own John Lilburne. Lilburne was a pamphleteer in 1600s England who refused to back down, ever, in spite of being sentenced to death four times (each time rescued by petitioning from his wife and many supporters), and having one of his eyes gouged out in torture.

    All it’s going to take, really, is one person to figure out the power of the jury, and the state’s house of cards will come tumbling down.

    PS: I’m psychic (either that, or my neocortex is just very good at making predictions), so let me make another prediction: There will soon be good news coming out of MD, and the MD camera ban is going to be overthrown as a partial result of this good news, probably within 5 years.

    Once again, “The Agitator” is the first to break the most important stories of our time in a cogent manner. :D Thanks, Radley!

  17. #17 |  supercat | 

    Out of curiosity, if a jury were to put a unanimous statement on the record that any sentence in excess of one month in jail and a $5,000 fine would be cruel and unusual punishment for the actual crime committed, would that be a basis for a defendant to appeal any longer sentence? If a jury makes a factual determination that such a sentence would constitute cruel and unusual punishment for the actual crime committed, what authority would an appeals court have to rule that it did not?

  18. #18 |  Joe | 

    Thank God that the Constitution preserved the jury system.

  19. #19 |  Big Red | 

    Prosecutors do this crap all the time. They also overcharge. The Just Us system isn’t about Justice! It’s about clearing the books and racking up brownie points for that next promotion or the next elective or appointive office. After all they are all parasites.= Attorney!

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