The justice system in California suffered a complete meltdown yesterday, and an alleged career criminal who should be in jail is now in the morgue.
Here’s what happened: Bobby Lee Pearson was on trial for burglary in a Fresno County court. The jury was deadlocked. I’ve written before about how our jury system is probably the worst system possible, aside from all the other ones that have been tried.
If the jurors had told Judge W. Kent Hamlin they were deadlocked, he would have declared a mistrial. But there’s no “box” on the verdict form for no verdict, you have to actually tell the judge. This, evidently, confused the s**t out of 12 souls in Fresno. Instead of telling the judge, leaving the form blank, or simply asking for help, the jurors did the dumbest and laziest thing possible, and filled in “not guilty”on the verdict form.
Hamlin read the verdict, and released Pearson. Only later did jurors inform him that they had no freaking idea what they were doing. But it was too late for Pearson.