Hispanic.nTlie jurors had never met before, but they knew each otliernwell enough. They are, after all, neighbors, working middleclassnfolk. They earn from 20 to 60 thousand dollars a year andnrange in age from 21 to 65. They dress in a similar neat suburbannfashion, slacks, open-collared sport shirts, sweaters, skirts,ndresses. They dine in many of the same restaurants, frequentnmany of the same movie theaters, vote in many of the samenschoolhouses. They converse while they wait. They discussntheir jobs, their families, their bad luck in being called here. Fornmany it was their first jury assignment. The county sheriff hadnalready given them a pep talk and shown them a 30-minutenfilm about the glories of jury duty designed to stoke their civicnconsciences. They were bored and unimpressed by it and relievednwhen it ended. They wondered what type of cases theynwould draw. They discussed the jury system in general and annunderiying theme emerged: a fervent hope that they would notnbe called upon to decide anything of consequence. Should thisnoccur, however, many prepared excuses for the judge in order tonbe thrown off the case. Prejudice, toward the plaintiff, the defendant,nor both, was the favorite. Soon a uniformed officer ofnthe court appeared and instructed four panels to report to thencourtroom. Quickly they gathered themselves and were led outnin double rows and disappeared down the hallway.nUp in the courtroom we fidgeted in our seats in the jury boxnand answered c[uestions by the attorneys prior to their challenges.nWe took note of the defendant, a young Hispanic malenin jacket and tie sitting with folded hands and glowering at usnmenacingly, and of the reporters from the local paper wearingnpress badges. We were warned by the bench not to speaknwith them nor read any accounts of the case while it was ongoing.nOnce the jury was finalized we heard the charges. Therenwere four: attempted murder, aggravated assault, resisting arrest,nwillful and malicious destruction of property. On a summer’snnight six months back, we were told by the prosecutor, anpaunchy, disheveled man, the enraged defendant, a Cuban immigrantnwho had come here when Fidel Castro emptied hisnjails, had burst into his ex-gidfriend’s apartment and attemptednto kill her with a semiautomatic pistol. Five wild rounds werenfired before he made off in a vehicle. The police were callednand a high-speed chase ensued. When the cops apprehendednhim he threatened them with the pistol, which was wrestednfrom him, then sought to flee on foot, whereupon he was pursuednagain, caught, and taken into custody.nThe key witness against him, the plaintiff, was the ex-gidfriend,na young black woman. Called to testify by the prosecutor,nshe recounted the events of that night. Asked why henwould want to kill her, she defined it as retaliatory. She statednthat she had at one time lived with the defendant but after anbrief period had put him out of her apartment because ofnthreats and physical beatings. She went on to describe his abusenin brutal detail. Secondary witnesses were then called to describenevents and corroborate the gid’s story. All the testimonynwas straightforward and hung together.nThen came the defense. The gid resumed the stand. Thenpublic defender, a big well-built man in his 30’s, elegantly attirednand beautifully articulate, went to work on her with gustonand flair. He was cleady looking to go places, and PassaicnCounty was not one of them. He sauntered over and leanednrakishly against the railing of the jury box as he delivered hisnquestions, so close to us that we could smell his cologne.n26/CHRONICLESnnn”Miss Smith,” he said to her, “please tell the jurynhow you met the defendant.”n”I was sittin’ in my car one day on the street and hencome up to me and started to talk,” she said.n”What did he say?”n”Fie said I have a good body and he want to knownme.”n”Flow soon after that did you commence living withnhim?”n’Fhe gid hesitated. “That night.”nThe attorney paused to let this sink in. Then hensaid, “It is my understanding that you have a two-yearoldnchild by another man. Did this child live with younand the defendant?”n”Well,” she said, “For a couple days it did. Then Ingave the baby to my mother to keep.”nThe law’er scowled. “Let me understand this,” hensaid, looking at us. “You had a two-year-old baby thatnyou suddenly abandoned to your mother so you couldnlive freely with a man you had met two days earlier onnthe street. Is that correct?”n”Yes.”nLooking at each of us in turn, he shook his head. I glancednat the other jurors for a reaction. All but one, whose headnwas down with eyes closed, softly snoring, were riveted.nThe cross-examination wound down. Defense got her to admitnpracticing rough sex, then to withholding sex when thenboyfriend did not work and bring home a paycheck. Then, saidndefense, she threw him out on the street. Flis frustrationsnmounted when she refused to see him to discuss reconciliation.nShe was his common-law wife and most couples are prone tondomestic quarrels, and really, was she not overreacting by pressingngrave charges that could send a man to prison for a longnwhile? Or was she trying to wreak vengeance via the court?nSeeing trouble staring him in the face with 24 eyes, die prosecutornfrantically did his best during summation to counter thendefense by recapitulating the facts, battered doors and bulletnholes in the molding, and lectured us on our duty to convict.nThe defense, perfectiy assessing the jury’s mindset, focused onnreasonable doubt and Miss Smith’s dubious character, linkingnthe two. Despite the fact the defendant was no angel, he said,nwe must acquit. After one full day of testimony, we returnednthe following morning to begin deliberations.nFrom the moment we entered, there was tension in the jurynroom. At first, little cliques of two or three people formed,njoking about the testimony and giggling nervously. Someonencalled us to order and we introduced ourselves and elected anforeman, a woman named Sheila. All white, we were composednequally of men and women. Then a poll was taken. The resultsnwere startling: ten votes for acquittal on all charges. There wasnreally very littie to deliberate about, the ten agreed, noddingnsagely. Voting for conviction, only me and one other.nRight then the revolt began. And as with all revolts, a leadernspontaneously arose, a man named Don. Tall, thin, fortyish,nshaggy-haired and bespectacled, he looked like a reference librarian.nIn fact, he was a CPA with a wife and two children.nCompared with Don, the rock of Gibraltar is made of papiermache,nas the room discovered to its dismay. Outraged by theirnattempt to preclude discussion, he removed his glasses and toren