Freedom in Our Hands
In a 2007 speech, Federal Judge William G. Young, recalled an encounter with a juror:
We are trying a short case, a three or four day case. We are on the sec-
ond or third day. A juror is coming into Boston, her car breaks down
on what we call the Southeast Expressway, a main artery clogged in
the morning. Her fuel pump goes. She drifts off into the breakdown
lane. She gets out of her car. This is Massachusetts. Nobody stops.
Nobody helps her. Everyone just goes by. She’s standing there in the
rain. Eventually, our safety net kicks in. Here is a Massachusetts state
trooper. He puts on the yellow flashing lights. He gets over into the
breakdown lane, protective of her car. He is getting out of his cruiser,
when she walks back to him and says, “I am a juror in federal court!
Take me to the courthouse!” Mother of God! And you know what the
trooper does? He puts her in the cruiser. He turns on the blue lights and
he starts barreling up the Southeast Expressway. What’s more, he has
got a radio. He’s patched through to us. We know the juror is coming
in. I am ecstatic! … I am at the window, looking out into the rain. Then
the cruiser comes up. It swoops in in front of the courthouse. She gets
out. Very slow elevators in our courthouse…. Very slow she comes up.
She gets out of the elevator on our floor and she starts running along
the hallway…. She is out-of-breath and she says, “The trial … I tried.”
We’ve been down only about 17 minutes, you know. She’s done it!
And she says she wants to call AAA to get her car towed…. She calls.
They won’t tow her car. They are afraid of liability. I go crazy. “Give
me that phone. Do you know who this is? You get someone out there
to tow that lady’s car!” You know, respectfully, that violates about
four judicial canons, but it captures the idea. And I honor that juror,
because she, at least, has the vision.1