Picked a jury on Monday in Jacksonville. A simple battery, misdemeanor, no big deal. Except it was a big deal! Juan Martinez is a family man who is 25 years old, not native born and works in the produce business - picking in the fields and selling in the farmer's market in Jax. Never been in trouble in his life, a life that is work from can't to can't. That is can't see in the morning until you can't see at night. He is living the American Dream making a home for his wife and two kids, seeing that the children are educated and he is up and at it before dawn seven days a week.
While the jury was deliberating the Judge informed me he would be taken into custody, in all likelihood, if found guilty. Nothing like a little pressure to add to the worries of waiting for a jury to come out with a verdict.
The State had three witnesses, one a JSO officer and two females who had never met but frequented a motel bar on the westside of Jax. I was unable to speak with jurors after the verdict but had to believe the character of the two ladies were the telling factor along with their ever changing and improving version of events. Their stories crossed each other only in the geographical location and the identity of this terrible sex driven man who brutalized one of them.
Two witnesses, a police officer who arrested Mr. Martinez, admissions of alcohol consumption, what more could prosecutors ask for in a case? The answer itself was simple - truthful witnesses!
The uproar over the Zimmerman verdict isn't being replicated here because there is no Al Sharpton or Benjamin Crump to thump their chests, ignore the facts and scream from the top of the bell tower how unjust the system is all in the pursuit of the "great green American." You will rarely find a defense lawyer who says the system is unbiased or blind in its treatment of defendants. But, what you will find is prosecutors who have witnesses that aren't truthful, or disrespectful, or rude or exhibiting a number of other behaviors that are offensive. I believe such behavior benefited Mr. Martinez in that jurors did their job in evaluating the witnesses and found their credibility to be greatly lacking. The fact they had each led lives of criminal activity was, I have to believe, certainly a contributing factor. The fact they lied about some little things, either at the time of the incident or in court, had to be another.
Just like Rachel Jeantel in her Zimmerman trial testimony, the behavior of a witness is a factor. Maybe a factor of great weight! Had Ms. Jeantel behaved on the stand as she has on the TV shows where Piers Morgan and Nancy Grace pandered to her like the long lost savior of humanity the verdict may have been different. Her story may have held water like a bucket rather than a sieve had she shown respect for the system and, more importantly, herself and her deceased friend.
No, I don't expect Mr. Martinez to be the focus of marches, attacks on legislation or sit-ins at the governor's office. But, I do wake to another day where my faith in the jury system has been bolstered anew by six honest citizens doing their constitutional duties and protecting individual rights against the government. God has truly blessed America!