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Function of Juries & Jurors Doing Justice | 17 Sep 2014

-Jury Takes 4 Minutes to Acquit Man Who Spent 10 Months in Jail

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Jury BoxWatch the short video below to hear the story of Florida resident Ryan Wilson who was wrongly accused of being involved in a string of car and house fires. His jury took just four minutes to acquit him, but he had already been punished by being locked up for 10 months leading up to the trial. Wilson had apparently been charged and incarcerated on the word of his ex-girlfriend, who reportedly implicated him in the arsons in exchange for a $6000 reward. Prosecutors went forward with the case, even though her claims about how Wilson supposedly started the fires were reportedly inconsistent with the findings of the Fire Marshall who investigated the arson.

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Before being arrested, he had been injured on the job and was receiving workman’s compensation while he was unable to work due to a shoulder injury for which he had surgery. One of Wilson’s attorneys reports that once incarcerated, Wilson was not allowed to get post-surgical rehabilitation for his shoulder and suffered great pain even from just putting on a coat. In addition to damaging effects on his health, Wilson had nearly a year of his life stolen from him, months of time to recover and seek employment wasted as he languished behind bars, his belongings put out on the street by his apartment complex, and he is now homeless.

The one thing that wasn’t taken from him is many more years of his life. This is the fail-safe purpose of the independent jury: to sit as independent judges of the case at hand, whose livelihoods and careers do not depend on convictions, and whose primary function is not to punish people, but rather to uphold justice. In a legal environment fraught with vindictive prosecutors willing to push any case forward no matter how flimsy, the jury stands as the last bulwark against such prosecutorial abuse.

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