Monday, October 1, 2007

Jury room deliberations, Mormons, and what is reasonable behavior

I just got off the phone with Juror #9. He said he tried to register at the Court TV message boards under the hat name "Juror #9," but his membership application was rejected. I've put in an email to the moderator on his behalf, and hope that will correct things. We'll see what happens.

This entry had been percolating in my mind for several days, especially when I saw that Juror #10's personal information had somehow been appearing on the Internet. That really disappointed me. It's my understanding that the main stream media found out his full name, since it was reported on KFI on the John and Ken show. I don't know if this information was initially revealed by Juror #10 or not. There also has been a lot of discussion on the Court TV message boards about Juror #10 being a Mormon, and an inference that his religion played a significant role in how he "judged" Lana. I believe there also might have been some inference that Juror #10 was associated with some of the fringe offshoots of the main LDS Church. I spoke with a dear Internet friend this morning, a devout Mormon, to get her perspective on Juror #10, and learn a bit more about the structure and teachings of the church.

First off, I don't believe there is any verification out there that Juror #10 is involved in a fringe sect or the Fundamentalist cult offshoot of the Mormon faith, led by Warren Jeffs. There's quite a bit of stuff you can read about the Mormon church online at You can even do a search of their entire website, and pull up a particular teaching, just using a phrase. According to my friend, "We're not like Jehovah Witnesses or other groups that do shunning or judging. We are taught just the opposite. And, it doesn't matter where Mormon's are located in the world, we are all taught the same thing. We are always taught to love everyone and have service to help change them." And she went onto imply, that meant change them into better people. She also said that the title of 'Elder' " the lowest ranking for a grown man. It doesn't mean you are 'high up,' in the church. Now, if it was a Bishopric, that would be high up, or if he was part of the Elder's Quorum, that would be higher up."

My friend also said that in the Mormon faith, they are taught that the "laws of the land" come before the laws of the religion. That they are taught to, "Follow the law of the land." And I did some searches of the LDS site using that phrase "laws of the land," and "judging," and it was pretty interesting reading the Mormon Scriptures, and other entries from their Gospel library.

Juror #9 and I talked a bit about Asperger's and Juror #10. At first, #9 felt that there was nothing "wrong" with #10, because he didn't sense anything "wrong" with #10. In fact, Juror #9 said he easily bonded with #10, because they had a few things in common, and he really liked him as a person. He was surprised that people perceived #10 as having a "flat affect." However, after we talked, there were some things that stood out.

The 13 notebooks. You know how the steno notebooks the jurors are provided have a line down the middle? Well, Juror #10 only wrote on the right side of that page line when he took his notes. And Juror #10 took detailed notes all during deliberations. So that note taking was not as much as people originally thought, but only writing on one side of the page, in my opinion is another unusual characteristic, as well as the taking notes during deliberations.

#9 said, "Every doubt was reasonable." This was not limited to Juror #10, but was also felt by other jurors, including Juror #1. To me, this tells us that some of the jurors lacked the ability to come to conclusions about behavior, and what type of behavior was more reasonable than other behavior.

Juror #9 said that #10 was wrong when he said, "We had discounted the forensics." Not true. He said they never came to a consensus on that. It was more along the lines of, "Let's say they were inconclusive." And #9 disagrees with #10's statement that #1 was at one point guilty. Juror #9 said #1 "Definitely was." (Another interesting point, Juror #11 was always wanting all the jurors to agree to the same thing, or agree that something occurred a specific way.)

Juror #9 thought it was possible that Juror #1 was jealous of Lana. Juror #1 said, "I'm a strong Mexican woman, and I don't understand why Lana would allow anyone to put anything in her mouth." Juror #1 said that she would never let anyone put a gun in her mouth. I find this interesting that, because this juror felt that "she" would never let something like that happen to her, she didn't have the ability to perceive that someone else could be terrified in the same situation, or that the gun was possibly forced inside Lana's mouth when she opened it to possibly scream. My thoughts on this are, did Juror #1 see Lana as a weak woman, and that she was stronger, or possibly morally superior to Lana?

Juror #9 has said that one juror had difficulty articulating their position, as well as understanding the definition of malice, as it was outlined by the court. He also said that Juror #2, would not be doing interviews, a show for Dateline, or write a book. In his own words, (via Juror #9), #2 said, "I don't want people to perceive a conflict of interest." Juror #9 called #2, "An honorable guy."

Juror #1 was looking through her notebooks and reading quite a few of Lana's emails and always focusing on the negative to support her position, no matter how tiny or insignificant the point would be. And, Juror #1 made this statement about Spector, "He's old." And the inference that Juror #9 got from that was, as if we should let him go. Juror #9 had to keep pointing out the jury instruction that they were not allowed to consider the consequences of their verdict.

I don't know if Juror #1 was jealous of Lana, and I don't know if Juror #10 has a form of Asperber's Syndrome or not. Certainly a "diagnosis" of Asperger's is all speculation to explain Juror #10's vote, as well as his flat affect in front of the camera and his odd answers to questions on Ashleigh Banfield's show. I do find it interesting that even with the information (that did not come into evidence) that Ms. Banfield gave him, he was still able to say that he could basically argue that information both ways.

Taking that into consideration with everything else we have learned about Juror #10, my impression is that #10 was not able to evaluate the information that was presented, and put "weights" to the evidence. He weighed all things equally, and kept them equally in his mind. He was unable to put an emotional weight to proposed behavior and take one side or another and determine if a behavior was reasonable or not. Having been presented with several different possibilities, he thought all were possible and was unable to reject any and pick a specific one. In that respect it is my opinion that he failed as a juror on this trial.


nita said...

"He was unable to put an emotional weight to proposed behavior and take one side or another and determine if a behavior was reasonable or not."

This one sentence says it all about Juror #10. One tends to believe what one hears. Only later on, after hearing a diversity of facts does one come to question the veracity and moral values of this information.

Juror #10 listened to everything, took notes about everything, and believed everything he heard.

His mind does not seem to go to the next level of thinking which is to analyze and judge the information.

He looked at the situation from a neutral point of view and, by not placing value on either side, was unable to come to a decision.

In the Banfield interview, when she read the police transcripts, he listened and, when Ashley said "it was an accident," he said, "he had the gun." When she moved along in the timeline of the statements and said, "she killed herself" he said, "she had the gun." (My own version in quotes)

In essence, he heard both statements and came to contrary conclusions. He did not apply logic to the timeline of these statements and did not note that Spector was going through a thought process himself to remove himself from culpability.

As far as taking notes only on the right side of the page, I can say it is a method of note-taking I learned in high school. While reading or listening to a lecture, one only writes on the right side. This is the side where the "facts" are. After finishing the right side, one goes back and uses the left side to comment. It is on the left side where one weighs the words, asks questions, and forms opinions.

I'm sure the left side of the notebooks were blank. He lacks the ability to question what he has heard or read, he doesn't question, and he has nothing of his own to say.

That being said, he should never serve on jury duty again. He lacks critical thinking skills.

mizpah said...

On the comment regarding Jehovah's Witnesses, they follow the scriptures to a "T". In the days of the apostles, believers were asked to avoid those within the congregation who had done wrong, and advised to "don't even eat with them". They "obey God, rather than men". They obey the laws of the land as long as they do not oppose the written word. When they are faced with obeying man's law (law of the land) when it conflicts with God's law, they will obey God's law even unto death. History shows this.

Justice is a big part of biblical teachings, and jurors should not have had any trouble reaching a guilty verdict in this case and calling it "Justice". Under the old law, PS would have been sentenced to death for his actions. God's law is just, and it will catch up with PS. There is no doubt about this.

You did the right thing by going to a devout Mormon to check out their teachings and beliefs. My advice to anyone is that they should go to a devout and active member of any religion to find out the correct answers to their beliefs. I know I do.

Your writings, Sprocket, are incredibly informative and have helped a lot of us keep up with the goings on in this trial. I agree with you that #10 should NEVER be allowed to be a juror again. I've had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach about him, and wonder what his real reason for his NG verdict is. It could be a lot different from what any of us would assume. And, then, maybe a lot of us have the same "sick feeling" in the pit of our stomachs. This guy was NG from the very beginning, and I have a feeling he was NG even before the trial started or right after it started. Which makes it really suspect to me. This, of course, is only my very humble opinion.