It’s Time to Stop Dodging Jury Duty

News & Politics

Admit it. You’ve done it. You’ve gotten out of jury duty. But unfortunately, if you find yourself in need of a jury, you’re going to wish the smartest people didn’t find a way out of it. After watching Cynthia Abcug get convicted on two serious crimes with very little evidence I began to feel sick about the times I weaseled my way out of being a juror. A smart man I know used to say, “Imagine being judged by the 12 people who couldn’t get out of jury duty!”

I don’t have to imagine anymore. I saw it happen. There’s no accounting for what juries will do. Most of my lawyer friends far prefer a bench trial with a judge to taking a chance on a jury. In their opinion, at least the judge knows the law and can understand its nuances and complications. Juries need hand-holding and someone to explain the complex in layman’s terms while reminding them they have to follow the (very complicated) law. It’s not an easy job. In fact, the reason most lawyers push their clients to settle is so they don’t have to take a chance on an unpredictable jury.

It was shocking to me that, in today’s climate, the jury swallowed the prosecution’s mythology whole. Have these people not been paying attention to the news? Our officials have been engaged in a constant marathon of telling lies. It has been non-stop since 2020. Hunter Biden’s laptop is fake! Ashley Biden’s diary is fake! Ivermectin will poison you! Gunshot victims were turned away at hospitals because of COVID-19! The kids are killing grandma! The vaccines will stop transmission! School is not safe! Inflation is not real! Women can have penises!

Haven’t they heard enough in the last few years to cause them to consider that state authorities might not be telling the truth? For those 12 jurors in Douglas County, Colo., there was no lie too big to swallow as long as it came from the “expert” in this case, the prosecutor, Gary Dawson.

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I imagine these are the same people who immediately lined up for their fifth booster shot after having COVID three times. They’re the ones who follow orders, stand on the sticker, refuse to see family at Christmas, and don’t hold a funeral for Dad because the government became their god over the pandemic. And “God” is never wrong. “God” knows everything. 

It’s unfortunate that so many people still believe in the government. How is this possible? Have they not had personal experience with government institutions lying to them? Abcug’s lawyer spent a lot of time trying to explain reasonable doubt to this jury, but I don’t think he explained it thoroughly enough. Colorado defines it this way:

Reasonable doubt means a doubt based upon reason and common sense which arises from a fair and rational consideration of all of the evidence, or the lack of evidence, in the case. It is a doubt which is not a vague, speculative or imaginary doubt, but such a doubt as would cause reasonable people to hesitate to act in matters of importance to themselves.

Let’s look at “such a doubt would cause reasonable people to hesitate to act in matters of importance to themselves.”

Sometimes, I like to play a lawyer in my head. If I were writing the closing arguments for this case, it would have gone something like this:

If you believe it is possible that medical doctors got several diagnoses wrong using their own tests and methods, and you would not want to be held criminally responsible for the misdiagnoses of medical professionals, then you must find the defendant not guilty.

If you believe that this mother may have misunderstood complex medical terms and their significance and described them incorrectly to some people in a way that did not lead to any harm, and you would not want the same mistake held against you in a criminal court, you must find the defendant not guilty.

We have shown you evidence that the seizures were witnessed by four other people besides the defendant. If anyone other than her saw even one seizure, then you must find her not guilty since the prosecution claims no one else saw them and insinuated they never happened. The prosecution’s claim that no one saw the seizures has been proven false. You should have a reasonable doubt after learning that he misled you about the witnesses that he may be misleading you about everything else. That is a huge reasonable doubt.

The evidence shows that there were six abnormal EEGs for this child, so you cannot find the defendant guilty for seeking medical answers for those EEGs. If you, a loving parent, might have sought the same treatment, then you must find her not guilty of child abuse. If a reasonable person would seek the same treatment, then she cannot be an abuser. Those are reasonable doubts. If you would not want to be judged as a criminal by this evidence, then you must find her not guilty.

If you believe the prosecution’s own witness who said Abcug bought a gun for self-protection and not for any raid, then that is reasonable doubt! That purchase cannot be an “overt act” when the defendant and the star witness both told you that the gun was for self-defense. If you believe that Ryan Wilson was a co-conspirator, then you have to ask yourself why the police never arrested or charged him. And since they did not, they must not have any evidence of his involvement. But they sold him to you as a co-conspirator and want his presence to be considered an “overt act.” What evidence did they give you to prove that? None. All they showed you was his presence in the defendant’s home for one week. The fact that he has still not been arrested or even interviewed for this conspiracy is reasonable doubt. The prosecution wants you to destroy the defendant’s life, put her on a child abuse registry, terminate her parental rights forever, and keep her from getting a decent job all on the word of a troubled 15-year-old who told you she doesn’t remember any details of any plan to kidnap the child. You have no date, no time, no plan of attack, no escape plan, no text messages, no emails, no plans of any kind. That is a truckload of reasonable doubt. They have shown you zero evidence of any kidnapping plot.

The prosecution made a big deal about all the times the defendant went on YouTube channels and talked about her son. Did they show you one recording of my client planning a raid? They did not. Did they show you one recording of my client planning anything criminal in nature? They did not. Surely, if they had evidence of a raid they would have shown it to you. The lack of evidence against my client is a reasonable doubt.

If you were on trial today and not Cyndi Abcug, would you want a jury to take away your liberty on the basis of this prosecutor’s evidence? If you even hesitate in answering that question, that is reasonable doubt. You must acquit her of these charges. The evidence does not support them in any way. You don’t have to like the defendant. You might think she likes attention, or she made parenting decisions you would not have made. You may think she’s naïve or gullible, but none of those things are crimes. And none of those things should cause a person to lose their liberty. This is the highest burden in our court system, and you don’t get to just ignore it because Gary Dawson told you to. You have a responsibility to act for the defendant as you would act for yourself. If you would hesitate to lose your liberties over the state’s shaky evidence in this case, you must acquit the accused.

Hindsight is 20/20, but reflecting on this trial and the thin veneer of evidence that 12 people unanimously decided was enough to convict a mother of heinous crimes has brought me more than one sleepless night. God help any parents with medically fragile or complex children. This case has solidified a fear we all face. We all know we could be accused of medical neglect if we do not follow doctors’ advice, but now will we one day be accused of medical neglect for listening to doctors and experts and following their advice? It’s the ultimate no-win situation!

The answer now is: it’s possible. And your fellow Americans who get stuck on jury duty that week won’t give you the benefit of being innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because they either don’t understand the concept or they misunderstand the rules of evidence. Perhaps this is the reason that, if called for jury duty in the future, those of us who could get out of it should seriously reconsider.

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