It is always this way with high-profile trials: They grip our attention for a few days, then a sense of frenzied boredom sets in if the jury takes a few days to decide the case.
That is usually what happens. Most of the time, though, juries do their best to shut out the noise and take seriously their obligation to give defendants a fair trial.
Your Perspective v. the Jury’s Perspective
Over the last few days, I’ve offered this caution to people who are totally convinced about what the Rittenhouse outcome should be: It is always important to distinguish between what you know (or think you know) about the case as an analyst or consumer of news and the perspective of the jury.
The jurors, unlike virtually all of us, have lived with nothing but the case for the last few weeks.
It is basic to what we think about the trial and its likely outcome. So it bears emphasizing: Your impression is apt to be very different from the jury’s impression.
The jury, for example, saw some of Judge Bruce Schroeder’s scolding of ADA Thomas Binger, but not most of it. For the most part, juries try in good faith to follow the judge’s admonition to avoid media coverage (including social media) of the case. So they are not privy to the hot takes on Binger’s performance and that of the other lawyers. They don’t know, for example, how bizarre many commentators (including yours truly) found Binger’s Bungalow Bill routine with the Rittenhouse rifle during summations.
Bottom line: Don’t assume that because you’ve formed strong impressions about evidence or players in the drama that the jurors share those impressions. Their experience of the case is both more intense and less expansive than yours.
This Jury May Not Need to Send Deliberation Notes
Now what’s going on in the deliberations? The short answer is: We don’t know. We never do — not really — until there is reporting on them afterwards. But here, things may be even more opaque than usual.
What’s the relevance of that in terms of our analysis of what’s happening in the jury deliberations?
The only things these jurors have asked for are extra copies of the instructions (which are about 40 pages long). Obviously, individual jurors want to be able to read for themselves as their discussions take place.