Civil Liberties

Jurors Acquit Suspect, Then Give Him Their Jury Pay

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Interesting story from Cleveland:

Jurors are so convinced that a Cleveland teen should not have been charged with assaulting another teen that they've gone beyond acquitting him. A few are writing angry letters to police and intend to donate their jury pay to him. At least three jurors plan to give the $100 they received to sit on the jury to defendant Demrick McCloud, 19, if McCloud earns a high school equivalency degree. They took only 30 minutes to find him not guilty in their deliberations Friday.

Most of the jury could not be reached for comment, but three members complained of a "sheer lack of evidence."

They said the prosecution's case hinged on the victim identifying McCloud as an attacker. But the victim also had told police he was certain another boy—later found to be in school at the time—was one of the assailants.

As they were leaving the courthouse, jurors Ana de Freitas Boe, an English professor at Baldwin-Wallace College; Jeanne Knotek, an obstetrician and gynecologist; and alternate juror Richard Nagin discussed ways to help McCloud.

The three have committed to donating their jury stipend to a fund for McCloud. Boe said the amount is too small to compensate McCloud for his jail time, but the jurors intend it as a "show of support."

"He seemed like a decent kid who was falsely accused," Nagin said.

I don't think I've ever read about this kind of indignation from a jury before, but it's nice to see.

The case against McCloud was brought by the office of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer published a long investigation of Mason last year, finding hundreds of cases brought with what legal observers interviewed for the story said was little or no evidence. The investigation also found that Mason's office brought an unusually high number of cases that were dismissed by judges for insufficient evidence before ever reaching a jury.