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notes from juror #8

September 30, 2009

in communication,life

today i report as juror #8 for a first-degree murder trial, my second murder trial in just over two years. my first involved four young kids who allegedly beat another to death by stomping. up until then, stomping, to me, meant a temper tantrum or rhythmic dancing and percussive sound on a broadway stage.

the notion of stomping was a lesson in meaning and understanding. so, too, were the judge’s instructions. that trial was more than two years ago, and i can still vividly recall the hours the 12 of us spent parsing the meaning of “intent,” “malice,” and “reasonable,” knowing what hung in the balance.

that, my friends, is when you truly comprehend the critical nature of language.


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