Justice or Injustice? What Really Happens in a Court Jury Room is a book by J.L. Hardee that every American citizen should have to read. It tells the story of a young man thrown into the justice system as a juror with very little prior knowledge of the law.
The interesting concept behind this book is that it is completely applicable to everyone. At some point in just about everyone’s life, there is a possibility that you will be selected for jury duty. The pressures that were forced upon Hardee are real and often times can be very life changing.
The book begins with the description of a young firefighter who grew up in a very small town in Horry County, SC. Hardee receives a letter stating that he has been summoned for jury duty and even though he tries his hardest to avoid it, he is selected to serve as a juror for a capital murder case in Myrtle Beach, SC., involving the case of: The State of SC vs. Kimberly Renee Poole.
This book is not as much about the murder or the entirety of the case, but rather, the mental and physical stresses that are put upon the jurors and how these stresses might sway the decision of a jury.
Hardee takes the reader through the case, highlighting important details that swayed his decision and the reasoning behind them. These strings of thoughts during the trial truly gave you a great example of how a juror with little to no experience with the law can reason though a case. The beauty of this book is that it offers simplicity and context to a very complicated courtroom full of lengthy testimonies and convoluted evidence.
The most compelling and at the same time most shocking part of the book was Hardee’s account of the jury room. According to Hardee, justice was not served that day; it was predetermined and forced upon not only the accused but also the jury.
Hardee and the other jurors who did not agree that Kimberly Renee Poole committed of conspired to this murder were bullied and forced into a decision. According to Hardee the jury was locked in a room for hours and hours on end without a break and without further instructions or guidance until they came out with a unanimous decision.
Hardee’s account of what transpired in that jury room truly made the book for me. You have a young man who refuses to send a woman to prison because of the morals he believes in and the lack of substantial evidence. However, what makes it truly great is the slow process of defeat and self doubt that every person goes through when they are physically and emotionally depleted. This slow process of defeat and pressure finally gets to Hardee and he goes against his believes just to end his own suffering,
As citizens we always have to ask ourselves how our actions, at this present time, are going to affect the larger picture. Are we going to allow personal feelings or outward pressures to sway our decision on what is right and what is wrong? According to Hardee, this is something that is very difficult and often times very demanding.
This book gives a very real and grim look into the justice system, not everything is what it really appears to be. As in everything, there are strengths and there are flaws in our justice system. The book is available here.