The Moment of Truth

(Originally written July, 1999)

I looked closely at the drugs which I held in my hands.  Unfortunately, this was not a TV series, a Mel Gibson movie, or a John Grisham novel.  The stub nosed 38 pistol lay on the table in front of me and reminded me that this was the harsh reality of real life.  It had all started with the high-speed chase.  Well, really, it had begun earlier in the evening at the bar.  My mind kept asking the what if questions.  What if the patrolman had not picked up the speeding car on radar?  Would it have been a lot different if there had not been the problem of leaving the scene?  Wasn’t a DUI and suspended license enough?  The chase probably endangered many lives in the neighborhoods and particularly in the apartment complex.  But, the thing that really complicated the whole problem was the gun.

As I picked up the gun, I looked right into *Joe’s eyes; he was at the other end of the table.  What was Joe really thinking?  I was having trouble explaining the distribution of the methamphetamine to him.  We could not agree at all about the sharing of these illegal substances.  As we argued back and forth, I tried not to rile him, but I was passionate about my opinion.  It was certainly clear to me about what we should do, and most of us were in complete agreement.  *Victor could not comprehend the exact meaning of some of the English words, but once he understood, he agreed with me and those that I was aligned with.  On the other hand, Joe was willing to risk failure in order to make a point.  That was my concern; we could not allow failure.  We had to bring the matter to a conclusion.  As jury foreman, it was my job to see that everyone got to speak, and that all twelve of us reach a unanimous verdict on each of the five charges and on each of the penalties if guilty.  After five hours of deliberating, twice appearing back in the courtroom, we reached a verdict – guilty on four of the five charges.  We did not find the defendant guilty of dealing drugs, so the penalties were lower than the prosecution wanted.  But barring a generous parole, the defendant will serve many years behind bars.

How are twelve non-professionals, untrained in law or narcotics, able to agree one hundred percent about anything?  I would shutter to have twelve people from outside of our business come in and make life-changing decisions “by committee”.  Our legal system should not work, but it does.  It is not always perfect, but even inefficient legal procedures beat “shooting it out in the corral”.  Every citizen has a responsibility to serve as a juror if called.  Every one of us needs to understand more about our judicial system.  Simple words can divide a twelve-person jury.  It is not always cut and dried like Perry Mason and the other television shows.  Real issues, some discussed by truth tellers and some by liars, are not always black and white.  They are many times a pale shade of gray.  Our jury was composed of young and old, male and female, Hispanic, African American, and White, rich and poor; it was a jury of the defendant’s peers.  It did not do a perfect job, and everyone perhaps felt less than professional.  But as untrained lay people, we exercised our responsibility and helped execute fair and impartial justice.  Maybe it was not perfect justice, but is anyone other than God all knowing?

I picked up the packages of drugs, the pistol, and the completed verdict form.  I slowly descended down the stairs to the jury box with the other eleven jurors.  This was a unique experience, fearful at times, fun at other times, tiring, frustrating, and rewarding.  I believe the majority of us would gladly do it again.  For the defendant it was indeed the harsh reality of a night gone bad.  His decisions and choices had led to a severe penalty.  Each of us could ask in so many ways what if.  And all of us knew that the defendant had faced the moment of truth.

In the Jury Box,

Kent

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

Galatians 6:7 (NIV)

*Names have been changed.

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About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

One Response to The Moment of Truth

  1. Cathy Westm says:

    Agreed!

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