In today’s video Devens Hamlen talks about lawyers serving on juries. Given the amount of knowledge that lawyers have about sentencing and mandatory minimums, Devens feels like his approach as a juror might be different than the rest of the jury.
Watch the video to find out more.
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We’ve included the transcript of the video below:
Can a Lawyer Serve on a Jury?
I have been called for jury duty three times when I was living in Massachusetts but working in New Hampshire and my dream is to sit on a criminal jury. One time I got almost to the end of being selected and I was kicked off by the judge because the judge asked me is there anything that will make you based on your job that will make you not be able to be fair. And my response was well I know what the possible consequences of a conviction are, I know what the possible sentences are, which jurors aren’t supposed to take into consideration, and that might influence my decision.
I could certainly sit through a case and weigh whether the state has proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt and I would feel comfortable either convicting of acquitting based on what the evidence the state presented. But I think that knowing what the consequences of someone action could be in terms of sentencing loss of job loss of livelihood, registering as a sex offender whatever it is, there is sort of collateral consequences including the sentencing would certainly influence my decision.
Because generally I don’t feel that people should get the punishments that they get, for crimes that they either admit or convicted of. As an attorney we are never allowed to tell them or, we can say this is a very serious crime, this is a serious felony. But we can’t say what, you know this person is facing 25 years to life and you think they should never be convicted because they are going to go away to prison for 25 years.
I wish I could on some case where there is a mandatory minimum sentences. So when the legislature has decided if you commit this type of crime, no matter how nice the judge is feeling, the very bottom that they sentence you to, the minimum is going to be 30 days or 30 years or whatever it is.
A lot of times I wish I could tell the jurors that because that’s going to play into their decision if they know this person is a really nice guy or girl, but no matter what happens if we find them guilty they are going to prison or jail for 6 months, that’s certainly going to influence their decisions.