Commenter Penn posted a nuanced take on Adam Sirois’s dilemma. It would have been a COTD yesterday, but for some reason WordPress has decided to spam all of Penn’s comments of late, for no reason that I can detect. (I can only discourage commenters I ban by repeatedly spamming them until they go away.) If anyone else has a disappearing comment, e-mail me quick, and I can usually find it. I’m sorry: I swear, it’s not me!
One point before I turn the blog over to Penn. His first comment is about that photo, much criticized, of the lone juror raising his hand in the press conference and “smirking” or looking”sheepish,” or “smug.” I liked Ann Althouse’s take on that:
“The photographers must have taken thousands of pictures of Sirois’s face, and the newspaper editors have chosen one, one that supports the “smirking… sheepishly” characterization. If he “looks like a smug little prick” to you, that’s because the editors decided to help you think that and because the man just had an 18-day experience and was the kind of person who could stand up for his beliefs in a group setting for more than 2 weeks. Most people would cave and go along to get along. These people are much more likely to have a pleasant, unremarkable face.”
Now here is Penn’s spam-rescued Comment of the Day on the post Ethics Hero: The “Lone Juror,” Adam Sirois: Continue reading →
Two lone jurors…
In a remarkable example of life imitating art, a single juror, a 41-year-old health care worker, refused to vote guilty with the rest of the jurors deliberating on the case against the accused murderer of Etan Patz, a little boy whose disappearance in 1979 focused national attention on the child predator problem. The defendant, Pedro Hernandez, had delivered an elaborate confession to police, then revoked it. For 18 days, Adam Sirois battled the eleven other jurors, who told him that they were convinced by the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Sirois, however, said he had doubts, too many to send a man to prison for life. In the end, the vote was 11-1. Yesterday, the judge in the case pronounced the jury deadlocked—hung— and declared a mistrial.
Sound familiar? If Sirois was made the hero of a cable TV adaptation, it would be considered a shameless knock-off of “12 Angry Men,” the iconic 1957 jury film that originated as a live TV drama by the late Reginald Rose: Continue reading →
Pedro Hernandez, now under arrest for the murder of Etan Patz, the 6-year-old boy whose 1979 murder was a national mystery, confessed that he had strangled the child just a few years later to his prayer group at St. Anthony of Padua, a Catholic church in Camden, New Jersey. No one, including Hernandez’s relatives who learned of his confession and the prayer group leader, reported the confession to authorities.
Hernandez’s sister, Milagros Hernandez, confessed what she described as a “family secret” to a reporter for the New York Daily News over the weekend, setting off “What would you do?” internet polls and blog posts, as if there was any question about the proper conduct for a family member or church group member who hears a murder confession. There is no question. You report it. There are no debate issues, no competing considerations, no claims of loyalty or confidentiality. It isn’t a Golden Rule dilemma, as in “Would I want someone to report me if I confessed to him in confidence that he had strangled a little boy?” It isn’t a dilemma at all. There is only one right thing to do, and if you think otherwise, you missed a couple of key meetings when the ethics were being handed out. Continue reading →