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In July of 1996, Jay Levine sat on the jury of a small criminal case in New York City. It involved two separate yet equally important groups: The police, who investigated the crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecuted the offenders. These are their stories. DUN DUN!

Jury Duty i (5/15)

July 2, 1996

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→ Later 11:30am

Out again – really fascinating proceedings, I must say. So much at stake, even in this minor trial. Today, more questioning of potential jurors; this time by the attorneys for the defense. Male representation of Mr. Moore – who is the larger of the defendants; quite handsome, w/hair pulled neatly and securely into a ponytail; a carefully trimmed beard, just a fine sharp line accentuating his jawline; a suit, a wide, charitable forehead. Soft eyes. Probably a vicious criminal. His partner, on this trial if not life, Mr. Lucky – not so lucky now – young kid – also looks pleasant: relatively alert, attractive. His girlfriend/sister was waiting outside: large woman, tattoo on upper curvature of left breast, eating a Slim Jim beef jerky, looking nervous.

Anyway, the interesting facts are thus: One witness to the crime: Mr. Chitana. Two cops: Mr. Schneider + Mr. Krantz. One crime… maybe? 2nd degree burglary and 2nd degree larceny. Happened on B-Way between 35th + 39th Street. But did it happen? That is the question. One witness: the word, finally, of that person against that of the defendants. Clearly it will be very difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they did it. The victim, everyone has made abundantly clear, numerous times, will not make an appearance – won’t happen. So what do we have to go on? We already know that there have been examples of mistaken identity in all sorts of crime cases. I must admit my bias as of this moment (as it should? – Innocent until proven guilty!) falls on the side of the defense. In fact, I’m not sure why the state is pumping money into this case at all… But if it serves to scare these kids a little more straight (so to speak) the $ well spent, I suppose.

Already a couple of jurors have distinguished themselves – most noticeably Mr. Sloan – loud, brash, opinionated, generally offended by the proceedings. Wears a sporty-style polo shirt, collar up, under a sports coat. Shaggy head of hair reminiscent of Warren Beaty in Shampoo. Right now he’s trying to insinuate himself into a circle of young ladies and meeting some very gratifying (to me) rebuff. Proclaimed serious + vocal reservations concerning the likelihood of condemning a man on the basis of one eye witness. Then, when prosecutor said, “Be that as it may, if I CAN prove beyond a reasonable doubt, CAN you convict? Or would you hold me to a higher burden due to my paucity of witnesses?” Sloan responded, “I think you owe me an apology!”

Everyone was taken aback; it was such an absurd and over-the-top assertion that it seemed more humorous than anything else and even the prosecutor indicated more curiosity than anything else. Yes, M. Sloan continued, OF COURSE I can view the case objectively. To imply otherwise I find deeply insulting.

But what do you want? The man restores antique cars for a living. Not for a living, excuse me. For a hobby. So now we are all released as they try to select a usable jury from those questioned. If not, unable, then I assume we will be called back and those of us as yet unquestioned will be canvassed.

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