[Original post date: 01/24/10 07:30am PST by Trapellar]
Recently we were able to get our hands on one of those juror questionnaires Ayres' new lawyer, Jonathan McDougall, sent off in December to the jurors in the first trial. The jurors were under no obligation to return the six-page questionnaire and we have no idea how many - if any - even responded to it. Judge Freeman also ordered that any responses would be maintained by McDougall and would not be revealed to the public without a further court order
The questionnaire is divided into four parts:
In the VERDICTS section, we're not sure why McDougall bothered to ask the jurors for the breakdown of the final vote for each victim. Both Doron Weinberg and the prosecutor spoke to the jury right after the mistrial and heard for themselves what the breakdown was. Why go through this all over again when McDougall already knows the answer?
Another thing : will a juror - nearly five months after the end of the trial- be able to recall enough to answer a question like this one: "What concerns or issues created the division of the votes.(Sic) Be specific for each victim if possible. (For example, the credibility of one or more of the victims or other witnesses, or the believability of Dr. Ayres, or the delay in reporting the events, etc.")
That last part about the "delay in the reporting the events" seems way off to us. Although studies have shown that the vast majority of male victims never report the abuse to authorities (let alone tell their spouses or other family members or friends) in their lifetime. In this questionnaire, McDougall appears to be stating as fact that it naturally follows that a delay in reporting abuse by victims would affect their believability. And in the TRIAL EVIDENCE section, he brings it up again: " Which of the complaining witnesses/victims did you or the other jurors struggle to believe, if any? How did the delay in reporting affect their believability?
If he's planning to go down this path at the next trial, we can tell you right now it's a lost cause. There have been literally hundreds of books, journal articles, newspaper articles and experts who say that most victims never report the abuse at all or when they do come forward, it's decades later. This point has been hammered on so often by experts in the mainstream media in recent years (especially in the wake of the pedophile priests scandals) that at this point, most Americans know that one of the most common characteristics of an abuse victim is to not come forward for years after the abuse. A few years ago, every once in a while you'd see some ignoramous on a readers' section of a newspaper story about a pedophile make a sneering remark like,"Why did it take the victim so long to come forward?" But we've noticed lately that remarks such as theseare becoming a true rarity. People are a lot more educated about the characteristics and behaviors of abuse victims, and you can be sure if he tries to bring that up, the San Mateo DA's office will shoot him down fast!
Under the TRIAL PUBLICITY section, we were frankly astonished by this question:
"What effect did the trial publicity and internet reporting have on you or the other jurors? Were the deliberations effected (sic) in any way?"
Never mind our surprise that an Ivy League graduate like McDougall would commit a glaring grammatical error by using "effected" instead of the correct word,"affected." The larger issue is: the jurors were admonished by Judge Freeman not to read the papers or any other publicity about the case. As far as we know, they obeyed her. Where is McDougall's evidence that anyone read anything about the case during the trial? For him to state this as fact is irresponsible.
By the way -that misuse of "effected" was not the defense lawyer's only grammatical error. Here's another in this question in the TRIAL ATTORNEYS section: "Anything done by the attorney's have an impact on your vote or the votes by the other jurors?
[Some additional commentary from Deep Sounding]:
I've added a few comments to the scanned document. I realize that it's a bit nit-picky to look so hard at the grammar in this document, but it is STRIKING that a well paid attorney, who claims to have attended Brown and Pepperdine would produce such a poorly worded, confusing document, given the relative simplicity of the questions which I believe were intended.
In general, I don't really have any feelings either way about the relative value of the questions asked. I don't find them to be overly informative, nor are they overly offensive. For the most part, I'm left with a bit of a sad sense of distaste for the entire judicial system. I seems like it has more to do with out-maneuvering the opponent with insignificant technicalities than it has to do with any real justice. On that note, here's an interesting observation about the questionnaire:
There are some variations on questions of outside (press/internet) influence during deliberations. In his opening, McDougall tells the jurors: "All answers are assumed to the best of your recollection, and are NOT sworn under any penalty of perjury or other negative effect. Please complete any question you can..." While this may be true of the questionnaire, I think there may be a bit of an interesting gotcha, which McDougall isn't being entirely open about:
I'm fairly certain that at one point during the trial, the jurors were asked to individually confirm that they were not reading external sources of information about the case ( media and internet). These answers were given under oath, and each of them affirmed that they had obeyed the court's instructions NOT to look at these sources during the trial.
While the jurors may not be under oath or penalty of perjury for answering questions on the questionnaire incorrectly, they could feasibly be in jeopardy of charges of juror misconduct or perjury if their answers to the questionnaire conflict with statements that they made in court, when they were under oath.
Seems like a bit of a nasty little trap, and I find myself wondering if that was the whole point of McDougall's little fishing expedition. Further, it seems like a bit of an oversight on the court's part that they would allow McDougall to open up that kind of a trap without a warning to the jurors.
In all though, we thought the questionnaire was a snoozefest.