Friday, May 12, 2006

Anonymous Holdout Saved Moussaoui

The Washington Post reports this morning that the lone juror who voted against the death penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui refused during jury 'deliberations' to identify himself, or raise any objections or arguments against the death penalty. That juror effectively cheated the 9/11 victims of justice by refusing to discuss and debate with his fellow jurors the reason(s) for voting as he did.

One Juror Between Terrorist And Death
Moussaoui Foreman Recalls Frustration
By Timothy Dwyer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 12, 2006; A01

Only one juror stood between the death penalty and Zacarias Moussaoui and that juror frustrated his colleagues because he never explained his vote, according to the foreman of the jury that sentenced the al-Qaeda operative to life in prison last week.

The foreman, a Northern Virginia math teacher, said in an interview that the panel voted 11 to 1, 10 to 2 and 10 to 2 in favor of the death penalty on three terrorism charges for which Moussaoui was eligible for execution. A unanimous vote on any one of them would have resulted in a death sentence.

The foreman said deliberations reached a critical point on the third day, when the process nearly broke down. Frustrations built because of the repeated 11 to 1 votes on one charge without any dissenting arguments during discussions. All the ballots were anonymous, and the other jurors were relying on the discussions to identify the holdout.

"Wednesday [April 26] was a very intense day," she said. "But there was no yelling. It was as if a heavy cloud of doom had fallen over the deliberation room, and many of us realized that all our beliefs and our conclusions were being vetoed by one person. . . . We tried to discuss the pros and cons. But I would have to say that most of the arguments we heard around the deliberation table were" in favor of the death penalty.

The foreman, who said she voted for the death penalty because the government proved its case, was the second juror to be interviewed by The Washington Post since the trial ended last week. The first juror said he voted for life in prison because he thought that Moussaoui's role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was marginal. He said some other jurors shared his point of view, but he would not reveal the vote. Questioned again after the foreman's comments, the first juror said that he is "happy someone else came forward" and that the 12 jurors "differed in the way we interpreted the things we saw and heard." He declined to discuss the deliberations further.

The article paints a picture of a situation that must have been maddening for the other members of the jury. Ace mentions the movie "Twelve Angry Men." It's one I love, even though it's sometimes characterized as a 'liberal fantasy.' However, the juror who saved Moussaoui is essentially the opposite of the hero of Twelve Angry Men. Rather than have the courage of his convictions, and argue his point of view to his colleagues, this juror refused to say anything. And for what it's worth, his refusal to engage in argument was a disservice to Moussaoui as well - to the extent that that's possible. Knowing that the process was short-circuited gives us one more reason to hate him.

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