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for heaven's sakes, give us the data

How many times I wanted to get up and say, “Can you go back and get that piece of data? It would make this so much easier.” But of course in my role as juror, I had to just stay put. For one who’s always asking questions and getting on people’s nerves sometimes for it, this was like confining a bull in a hamster ball.

At one point, they showed a report that had been filled out for the EPA by the plant manager. He didn’t report the onsite pit. Prosecution was all over this, “You had a pit or pond onsite, you called it such, but yet you didn’t report it, is that right?” The witness responded, “Each question had definitions and our pit didn’t fit their definition.” Okay … so what does that mean? Who’s at fault here? Could someone go and get the definition? I had to imagine I was tied to the seat to keep myself from popping up and directing one of the attorneys to go back and get that piece of information. If he’s right, then prosecution has nothing. If he’s wrong, prosecution has something. If no one brings it up, then, well, I guess defense wins. But would defense play this kind of game and only do the very littlest of what it needs to do? Seems risky. Maybe they did look for it but couldn’t find it. Maybe this didn’t come up till later and they didn’t have enough time to get it. Not having been in this situation before, it took me a while to really get what my job was. I wanted to get to the bottom of the story, not be presented facts and half facts and no facts and stories and whining and be quiet through it all and then decide something. Yuck. What is that? Oh, that is our court and jury system. Oops, ok.

Another was when one plaintiff was being questioned about her house value. She couldn’t state clearly when certain improvements were made. She hemmed and hawed. If a drop in housing values existed, why didn’t they put up a slide showing her property value at various times and how that related to the improvements made? Why didn’t they show that even though her house price had gone up, it should’ve gone up much more because of the improvements made. They never presented that clearly. I felt like I was trying to be snowed. If you’re going to try and snow me, you lose. Give me the data.

One plaintiff played dumb and couldn’t answer questions that I thought she should have known or did know but she was lying. It was my prerogative to determine if I thought she was lying. And on several occasions she’d come out with some zinger showing her knowledge of some finer detail about how refinancing works. No one who knew that would’ve been so dumb on all the other stuff. I had a hard time with her. Turns out we all did.

Another time, a defense witness did some analysis on a set of data from the prosecution’s witness. The witness provided his results to the prosecution along with the program he used to generate them as well as directions for how to replicate what he did. And he didn’t use some data that he had supposedly provided in an initial report. Why? He surely knew if this was to make his numbers better or not. He didn’t say. I don’t think he was outright asked. Defense didn’t pursue this. Prosecution only got on his case for not giving them the report including all the data, even though they could’ve supposedly run it themselves and most surely did. “But you didn’t give it to us, did you?” the prosecuting attorney asked. Oh how lame. Paleeze. So my mind went all around this – what did that mean? Did the data make his numbers look better? If so, then why didn’t the prosecution bring this up on cross examination? If his numbers would’ve remained the same, then there was no point in bringing it up by either side. Again, another point that I just had to say was just sparring, nya nya. I felt like I was a parent adjudicating among children. This is just another example of how one can waste a lot of time in our court system. It has its benefits and it can be warped by its users. Just please don’t catch me in the middle next time.

One of the worst witnesses reported the size of one system was 4x3. It’s a 3-D system, you’re supposedly a scientist. Can you give us all three dimensions please?

Another told us that the variation in the wells was possible to calculate without being concerned with where the material was coming from. This was ludicrous. So you float one of those bath oil things in your bath water and you watch it slowly dissolve. You mean to tell me that you can determine that no parts of that water will become more concentrated with the bath oil regardless of how big that bath oil piece is? Sheesh, I wish they’d had better people as witnesses. Given what we got, we did what we were asked.

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