In the holiday season, Edwin Josue went shopping for a verdict

Halstead property broker Edwin Josue with CNN reporter Kelly Wallace

Halstead property broker Edwin Josue with CNN reporter Kelly Wallace

By Cristina DC Pastor

‘Twas a week or so before Christmas, and real estate broker Edwin Josue was probing his conscience trying to decide whether to send a man to jail.

He didn’t exactly go ‘Bah! Humbug!’ but at the end of two weeks, he and 11 other jurors in a Manhattan criminal case declared a ‘guilty’ verdict on a suspect in a burglary, kidnaping and assault.

“It was exhausting and draining but exhilarating,” said Edwin at the end of his jury duty, his first time since becoming a U.S. citizen in the 1990s, and it happened weeks before the Christmas holidays.

Edwin and 11 other jurors, including CNN reporter Kelly Wallace, served on the jury to decide the fate of a man accused in a series of criminal activities. The jury found the man guilty of burglary, kidnaping and assault, but innocent on identity theft and criminal possession of stolen property. Sentencing is slated for January 6, 2015.

The idea of sending someone to the slammer after Christmas weighed in the minds of some, but as Edwin stated, “I think we gave a fair verdict.”

“The deliberations were intense,” he shared with The FilAm. “Deliberations were done after all witnesses on both sides presented their case with evidences. No discussions were made during the trial that’s why it is hard that we couldn’t share our thoughts and ideas about the case.”

The jury deliberated for one full day and 30 minutes the day before a verdict was returned. “We were12 minds deciding the fate of one person who will go to jail,” he said.

Jury duty is an integral part of the U.S. justice system, and considered an important civic responsibility of every adult American. One who is chosen to serve should honor the summons and take it seriously. However, one may decline for certain reasons, such as when he is traveling out of town or when he is indisposed. In which case, a doctor’s letter should be presented to support why the person is asking for a deferment. Some busy Americans try to avoid jury duty which they consider a disruption of their jobs, but others are just happy to do their part in making the legal system work.

Members of the jury are expected to commit their time to the case no matter how long the trial takes. In the criminal case of OJ Simpson, for example, the jury served almost one year, from November 1994 to October 1995.

Although it’s his first time to serve, Edwin has been summoned three times in the past.

Edwin and fellow jurors – all of them New York residents — deliberated upon the summation of the legal counsels from both sides until they reached the verdict. There were three alternate jurors, but their services were not used.

Discussions were serious but calm, and there were no heated exchanges, said Edwin. They based their decision upon the instructions of Judge Ann Donnelly to look at the evidence and facts and nothing more.

“All cell phones and laptops were held by the police courts during deliberations. Social media was restricted to personal use but not to discuss the case,” he said.

In the end, Edwin said the experience made him a better American citizen. “Most people once summoned would like to escape jury duty, but now that I experienced it I recommend it to all American citizens to do their part in giving time to do a civic and worthy duty.”

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