Thursday, June 16, 2005

Can Waiting for a Jury Verdict Be Cruel & Unusual Punishment

The 8th Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.  But can waiting for a jury verdict ever reach that level? 

Probably not, but it must seem that way to some defendants, especially those who right now have timeless days of waiting.  Jury deliberations in the trial of Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz have gone on for 9 days. (see Wall Street Journal here)  In the case of Richard Scrushy, the deliberations have not gone all week, and often for shorter days- but total to 15 days. (see Wall Street Journal here). 

The complicated nature of these white collar cases may warrant longer deliberations.  After all, a discussion of 4 months of testimony and exhibits takes time. 

But what about the accused who waits, and yes, their family and friends who suffer with them?  If found guilty, they will wish this time of freedom went on for longer.  They will cherish the moments they had together, absent walls of incarceration.  And if found guilty, the suffering to them is perhaps inconsequential in comparison to what harm or damage they caused to others.  Its easy here to say - they deserve it!

But what if they are found not guilty?  Can they chalk this up to a life experience that makes you rethink what is really important in life, or is there no way to recoup the years lost by this experience.   

(esp)

Addendum - We will not be seeing a verdict today in the Scrushy trial, as they will not be deliberating.  See Birmingham, Alabama News here.

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