The Jury's Complex Task
(posted 5/29/02, revised 5/31/02)
To illustrate the complexity of the jury's task, here is an analysis of the unanimous jury decisions required to deal with the principal claims against each of the 7 defendants, for each of the two plaintiffs:
If the jury were to find in favor of all defendants on all claims, only 7 unanimous votes would be required.
But if the jury were to find in favor of both plaintiffs on all claims against all defendants, and then award compensatory damages plus punitive damages on all claims, that would require up to 167 unanimous votes.
A look at the 18-page verdict form which the jury must fill out reveals the following:
Fourth Amendment violations
- false arrest by up to 6 defendants (12 verdicts)
- unlawful search on May 25, 1990 by up to 5 defendants (10 verdicts)
- unlawful search on June 26, 1990 by up to 5 defendants (Bari only, 5 verdicts)
First Amendment violation
- violation of 1st Amendment rights by up to 7 defendants (14 verdicts)
- conspiracy to violate the 1st Amendment by any two of up to 7 defendants (14 verdicts)
That's 55 unanimous verdicts required to dispose of all claims in favor of Judi and Darryl. The standard of proof in a civil case is the preponderance of the evidence, which simply means more likely than not.
In addition, if they find in favor of the plaintiffs, the jurors also must unanimously agree on damages, including:
- the dollar amount of damages for each of up to 7 (counting both plaintiffs) 1st and 4th Amendment claims (7 decisions)
- for each of those 7 amounts the share to be paid by each of up to 7 defendants (49 decisions)
- for 4th Amendment violations, for each plaintiff, the amount of punitive damages against any of up to 6 defendants. (12 decisions)
- for 1st Amendment violations, for each plaintiff, the amount of punitive damages against any of up to 7 defendants. (14 decisions)
There is no damage amount connected with the conspiracy claim, but all defendants found to have taken part in a conspiracy are fully liable for the total of damages caused by all conspirators, instead of only for the portion they themselves caused.
So that's up to 92 more unanimous jury decisions required to determine damages, making a grand total of up to 167 unanimous decisions the jury must make in order to decide all the claims in plaintiffs' favor against all defendants and award all possible damages. No wonder it's taking them a while!
Since they could have quickly let the defendants off with only 7 decisions, we should be very happy the jury is taking so long.
As Dennis Cunningham said, "Good things are worth waiting for."
(Note: This analysis is based on a study of the Jury Verdict Form. This analysis is not the product of the legal team.)
To be placed on the U.S. Mail list for updates on Judi Bari's lawsuit against the FBI, or to make a tax deductible contribution to help fund the lawsuit, please contact:
REDWOOD SUMMER JUSTICE PROJECT
P.O. Box 14720, Santa Rosa, CA 95402
Phone (707) 887-0262 or FAX (707) 887-0865
Email RJF at judibari.org