The Drew Peterson jury made news recently with its guilty verdict — and with its unusual note to the judge asking for the definition of "unanimous." And jury deliberation is expected later this month in another major case, the Christopher Vaughn trial. Here's your turn to cast judgment on these juror facts:
1 One of the longest jury deliberations in a U.S. civil trial occurred in Guam in 2001 — and 2002. It took 14 months for jurors to sort out the liability for a hotel collapse during an earthquake. Their deliberations seemed so open-ended that at one point they requested a refrigerator.
2 Before Chicago lawyer Clarence Darrow reached the zenith of his fame with the Leopold-Loeb case and the Scopes monkey trial, his career was nearly destroyed because of two charges of juror bribery in a California case. Luckily for Darrow, he had a good attorney — himself. On the first charge, he gave such an emotional closing argument that many of the jurors wept, and they acquitted him in about half an hour. In the second case, a mistrial was declared, and the charge ultimately was dropped. Even so, many historians believe Darrow indeed tried to bribe jurors in that case.
3 Sometimes a jury summons is an invitation to party. In a 1981 mail fraud and conspiracy trial, jurors regularly drank beer and downed carafes of wine at lunch. Two others took cocaine. During the trial, some slept. When lawyers complained, the judge responded, "If the jurors are sleeping, that's your problem." The Supreme Court upheld the conviction. In Tanner v. United States, the justices ruled 5-4 that the drugs and alcohol were not an improper "outside influence" and didn't constitute jury misconduct.
4 President Barack Obama was called for Cook County jury duty in early 2010 but got out of it. He had another important duty scheduled that week — the State of the Union address.
5 The first woman to receive a jury summons was a schoolteacher named Eliza Stewart in 1870 in the Wyoming Territory, which had just granted women the right to vote. According to the March 22, 1919, edition of The Woman Citizen magazine, Laramie at the time was beset by a "mass of depraved humanity and desperate characters," and the town's menfolk asked the women to serve on juries to help "put down the anarchy."
6 Imagine facing the judgment of 500 of your peers. That's how many jurors were estimated to have assessed the guilt of Socrates, who was accused of impiety and corrupting the youths of Athens. The jury favored conviction on a split vote, 280-220, but that was enough to order up a cup of hemlock for the great philosopher.
7 Teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa was convicted of jury tampering in 1964, but apparently that didn't teach him a lesson. On appeal, his defense team produced affidavits from three prostitutes who claimed they had sex with the judge and some jurors during the trial. That didn't go over so well. Hoffa went to jail, and the women were convicted of perjury.
8 One of Jim Crow's most powerful weapons was the all-white jury. In the Scottsboro Boys case, nine young African-Americans were charged in 1931 with raping two white women, a capital offense in Alabama. Through multiple trials and despite one of the women admitting she made it all up, juries found the defendants guilty. Even after the Supreme Court, in Norris v. Alabama, overturned Clarence Norris' conviction on the grounds that all-white juries were unconstitutional, Norris was found guilty at another jury trial riddled with suspect testimony. He ended up serving 15 years in prison for a crime that never happened. He won a pardon in 1976.
9 Despite what you might read or see in some movies, Judge James Wilkerson didn't dramatically order the bailiff to swap juries before Al Capone's tax evasion trial. If he did, the reporters from the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Daily News and Chicago Herald-Examiner missed it or decided it wasn't worth mentioning. Instead, Wilkerson quietly had the jury pools swapped. The source of the confusion probably is Frank Wilson, an Internal Revenue agent who did most of the investigative work that sealed Capone's fate and who went on to lead the Secret Service. Some 28 years after the trial, his "as-told-to" account propagated the more theatrical tale. A 1936 Tribune story headlined "I was a Capone juror" explains how the jury pools were switched before the trial started.
10 For about 50 cents, a Chicagoan in the '30s could legally buy his way onto a "jury." A section of the Wrigley Field bleachers jutting into left center field was nicknamed "the jury box" because it looked like one. Unlike today, the Cubs of the '30s acquitted themselves quite well on the field.
Mark Jacob is a deputy metro editor at the Tribune; Stephan Benzkofer is the Tribune's weekend editor.
SOURCES: "We, the Jury" by Jeffrey B. Abramson; "Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment," edited by David Levinson; "Terrorism on American Soil" by Joseph T. McCann; "Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned" by John Aloysius Farrell; "The Trial of Socrates" by I.F. Stone; "Wrigley Field: The Unauthorized Biography" by Stuart Shea; "The Judge who Hated Red Nail Polish" by Ilona M. Bray, Richard Stim and the editors of Nolo; "Courageous Judicial Decisions in Alabama" by Dr. Jack Kushner; "The Woman Citizen" magazine; ABA Journal; "Jim Crow Laws" by Leslie V. Tischauser; U.S. Supreme Court; Chicago Tribune archives; Chattanooga Times Free Press; enr.construction.com;Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun