The guilty verdict in court

I didn't end up in court expecting a guilty verdict, but that is what ended up happening.

Guilty of bias, guilty of judgement, guilty of not reading people well, guilty of letting someone down.  The sentence - a long hard look at myself!!

I turned up at county court this week, a little nervous as the environment was rather intimidating but also interested in what being a juror would actually involve.  I ended my jury service having felt like I was on trial - totally self imposed but the prosecution had done a good job of laying out the character flaws!

There is more detail on a video you can watch here or read on....

As soon as the charge was read out, I looked across at the defendent and found myself finding him guilty!  Talk about judgement on appearances only!  How many times have I told people that the judgement people make of you are a reflection of them rather than you - ouch, what does that say about me?!

And then we found out that the defendent was a soldier and as an army wife, I am hugely protective of men in green! So guilty verdict immediately wiped away as, if he was a soldier, I must defend him.  Prejudice number 2!  And with that came a huge amount of inner conflict.  I knew that in every organisation that there are bad pennys and maybe, just maybe, this was the case here...?

But my inner turmoil went on.....I like to think that I am quite good at reading body language and knowing when people are lieing.  All 6 people that gave evidence appeared to me to be telling their version of the truth - but none of the different versions tallied.  Were people lieing?  Did I not have the skill I thought I did?

And then the real crunch - decision time: Was the defendent guilty or not?

Something I talk about a lot with clients is win:win - making decisions where both parties get to have a positive outcome.  And here, that just didn't seem possible.  A guilty verdict would see this man lose his career - and it troubled me that that would happen if he had not laid the punch people were saying he did.  A not guilty verdict would leave the victim feeling as if the system had let him down and knowing his perpetrator was still walking around free.  No win:win anywhere in sight!

So I had to dig deep on this one!

Two things came to my rescue:

Instinct!  So often we allow our heads to rule our hearts and the court procedures are very much aligned to this - what are the facts, what is the evidence that you can use?  But in this case, all of that was conflicting and I couldn't see the wood for the trees!  My 'heart' however, was telling me he didn't do it.  And what was that instinct feeding off? 

Another two things that I focus on a lot in my work: Energy and motivation.  Energy is a really interesting thing because we can't see it but boy, do we feel it - and feel it in others too.  The energy around the defendent was all about injustice; he just didn't do it.  The victim however, it was more about getting compensation for what he had been through.  And that lead nicely into the motivation.  We can be motivated by the stick or the carrot.  Most of us move towards the carrot, but often the stick is a much stronger motivation.  And this was almost palpable in this case.  The victim saw the carrot of financial compensation and I believe that was his motivation.  The defendent was doing all he could to move away from the stick of a guilty verdict.

Having listened to my instinct and feeling more settled with a not guilty verdict, I then drew on my other ace card - we all do the best we can with the resources we have.  The judge was very specific in that we had to make our judgement based on the evidence presented - so away with personal prejudices and subjectivity.  The resources we were given were a very weak prosecution and a much stronger defence making a not guilty verdict an immediate consensus decision for all 12 of us. 

As I left the court, I was still dwelling on 'What if he did do it?  What if we have really let the victim down?' and those questions could have become very destructive had I not come back to "I did the best I can with the resources I had".  The wonderful thing about this is that it is not cast in stone.  If the resources change, you can make a different decision.  If new knowledge comes in, you can make a different decision.  But if in that moment, with what you had, you did the best you can, no-one can ever ask more of you.  And with that I jumped on the bus leaving those destructive thoughts at the bus stop!

I am pleased I had the opportunity to see the workings of the court at first hand but will remain more grateful for the learning I experienced about myself and will have these two techniques far more readily to hand as life continues to throw its challenges at us all and hopefully have the opportunity to teach more people about them too!

What about you?  How often do you find yourself guilty when actually, you were doing the best you could with the resources you had?  And in knowing that, can you now cut yourself free from that incarceration???

Please share your comments with me below - or perhaps tell me what judgement you would have made on me that day....?

Published by Caroline Cavanagh, Clinical Hypnotherapist and author of Anxiety Alchemy. on |

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