CNN O.J. Simpson Trial

Prisoners of justice

September 25, 1995

From "CNN Presents" and Correspondent Jim Moret

Jury box

Some lawyers say juries are like snowflakes -- no two are the same. No one knows how the Simpson jury will vote. Los Angeles is a city where juries in high-profile cases, as in the first Rodney King trial, deliver verdicts that shock a nation. And no jury has ever had so many problems aired so publicly.

From the outset the jury has had to contend with unique pressures. Outside the court was intense media and public scrutiny; inside, investigations leading to dismissal.

The record eight-month marathon sequestration has taken a toll. Jurors sat through day after day of withering scientific testimony and viewed unspeakably gory crime-scene photographs.

More than 250 days in a hotel room, with no private phone, no radio and no alcohol created problems. "You're in there as a juror and they're treating you like you're a convict," complained one of the first male jurors dismissed. (31K AIFF sound or 31K WAV sound)

The stress can be overwhelming -- living with strangers, having visits and outside phone calls monitored, and being ordered, every day, not to talk about the only thing in their lives they shared as a group -- the trial.

Since the Simpson trial began, 10 jurors have been dismissed, six of the original 12 jurors and four of the replacements from a shrinking panel of alternates. The jury is now composed of nine African-Americans, two whites and one Hispanic. Ten women, two men.

Harris

Judge Lance Ito kicked off one juror allegedly for hiding her past as an abused wife. Another got the boot when fellow jurors claimed he intimidated them. One was dismissed for supposedly planning to write a book about the trial. Yet another, who did go on to write a book, was apparently released for not disclosing he'd once allegedly kidnapped a girlfriend.

Some former jurors have spoken out, describing dissension and division within the jury. But the last juror dismissals were back in early June. Since then, there have been reports the remaining jurors may be less divided, and in the closed jury room, their shared trial experiences and frustrations just might influence their ultimate vote.

When jurors finally are able to talk freely during deliberations, they'll likely discover their cultures, personal experiences, and maybe even their gender, causes them to view important evidence in very different ways.

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