Hansen in the A.M.: 'We need a better way'

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by DALE HANSEN / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on February 1, 2010 at 7:23 PM

I get a summons for jury duty in the mail the other day; it's another one of those civic duties I don't like, and I haven't met many people who do.

It's the third time in 10 years for me, and the lovely Mrs. Hansen hasn't been summoned once. It's the only drawing I ever win, and I don't like winning this one.

Now I've seen the film they show you to convince you how lucky you are to be chosen, and I actually bought into it my first time around.

I was all set to serve on a jury until the lawyers started talking, and that's when my jury duty ended .

I think I know everything there is to know about the justice system.  I've seen every episode of "Law and Order"  (most of  them two and  three times),  and I was a huge fan of "Boston Legal."

I even watched "Ally McBeal" -- so there's not much you can tell me about how the justice system works -- and I don't like it.

A man is accused of murder, or rape, or some other heinous crime,  and we let him go if we have any reasonable doubt.

And then, in a civil case, we take your money, your pride and anything else we can get if we think you did it.

A judge says 51-49 is good enough; not to me, it's not.

That's when I told the judge I think O.J. did it (and if that really was a jury of his peers, he's hanging out with a rather strange peer group).

But if a jury finds him "not guilty," I'm not going to take his money, because I think he did it. It's all or nothing.

That's when the judge told me I was free to go.

The reality is, I don't think I'm qualified to decide a man's innocence or guilt. I don't want be the person who sends a man to jail -- maybe to die -- then find out later I was part of the mistake.

I don't want to do that.

We need a better way,  but as my friend State District Judge Eric Moyé always tells me, the American legal system is the worst system in the world -- except for all the others.

And I always tell him,  we need a better way.

E-mail dhansen@wfaa.com

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