Monday, February 15, 1999

Contact The Skeptical Juror

You can contact me via email at

Monday, January 25, 1999

The Skeptical Juror

Welcome. I'm The Skeptical Juror.

I come by that name honestly. I’ve served jury duty more than most. I’ve been summoned more than ten times. I can’t recall how many more precisely, just that it's more than ten. I’ve been called enough times that I’ve lost track.

I’ve been called into the jury box seven times for voir dire. I’ve actually served on a jury four times, all criminal cases, all felonies. I was an alternate during my first trial. I was the foreperson in the next three: murder, spousal battery, and child molestation. The last trial was a life-changing event. It led me to create this website, a pending series of books, and this persona.

The dictionary defines “skeptical” as “not easily convinced, having doubts or reservations.” A Skeptical Juror, then, truly and without reservation grants each defendant the presumption of innocence. A Skeptical Juror insists the state carry the burden of proof, and will not vote guilty unless and until the state proves each and every element beyond a reasonable doubt. A Skeptical Juror is focused on the evidence and is impervious to the drama.

Most jurors believe they adhere to these precepts. Experience cautions me otherwise.

But I am not merely A Skeptical Juror. I am The Skeptical Juror, as if there is but one. To be sure, there are many other jurors out there who apply a high level of skepticism when adjudicating a case. I fear they are too few, but the existence of just one other is sufficient to prove I am not The One and Only Skeptical Juror. I use the title simply because it is more marketable than A Skeptical Juror. And because it’s cooler.

You can contact me via email at

Friday, January 15, 1999

About The Series

The goal of The Skeptical Juror is to reduce the frequency with which we condemn the innocent among us to prison. We hope to achieve this goal by placing the reading public in the role of jurors in actual trials, allowing them an opportunity to experience the challenges and responsibilities which await them.

Each book in The Skeptical Juror series recreates a single, actual trial as a drama in three acts: Trial, Deliberation, and Aftermath. Each act casts the reader in the role of a juror.

The first book in the series is The Skeptical Juror and the Trial of Byron Case. Byron Case faces a charge of murder in the first degree for shooting Anastasia WitbolsFeugen in the face, with a shotgun, from point-blank range. The state relies on the ever-changing testimony of Byron’s embittered ex-girlfriend and on an incriminating audio tape of a phone call between them. The defense relies on a disinterested third party witness who supports Byron’s version of events. The Prelude and Introduction are available for your review.

During Trial, you will hear the actual opening arguments, closing arguments, and jury instructions. You will hear all the evidence from all the witnesses. The witness testimony has been converted to first person narrative, for ease of reading. The integrity of the testimony, however, has been preserved. The tesitmony of the first witness in the case, Deputy David Epperson, is available for your review.

During Deliberation, we dissect the jury instructions and the witness testimony. The deliberation of Deputy Epperson's testimony is available for your review.

At the close of the deliberations, you are left to decide your own verdict. How would you have voted? Is he guilty? Did you vote to acquit? However you decide, your decision will be tested soon thereafter when you learn of the actual verdict in this case. Assuming the verdict is Guilty, you will learn of the sentencing and hear from the family who lost the one so dear to them.

The second test of your vote won't be far behind. In the Aftermath of the trial, we will dig further into the case. By reviewing actual case documents and by conducting independent investigations, we will learn that which was kept from us as jurors. As an example, portions of Byron's jailhouse journal are revealing. 

The current plan is to create a series of ten books.

The Skeptical Juror and The Trial of Cory Maye is now available on Amazon in both print and Kindle format.

The Skeptical Juror and The Trial of Cameron Todd Willingham is now available on Amazon in Kindle format. It will soon be available on Amazon in print format.

Tuesday, January 5, 1999

About The Site

It's an amazing world. People and companies compete to provide me with valuable services for free. For example, I use Firefox for my web browser because I think the fine folks at Mozilla give me more value for free than does Microsoft with its Internet Explorer.

The Skeptical Juror web presence relies heavily on the free services provided by others. The site itself is hosted by Blogger. It should be pretty obvious to the casual viewer that I'm using the blogging tool to create a web presence that falls somewhere between a blog and a conventional, more static, web site.

The photos are hosted by Picasa. I have no idea how to post to Picasa. Blogger performs the interaction for me, effortlessly. If Picasa weren't available to me, I guess I would be forced into using Flikr, or some other free photo hosting service.

The many large documents I need to store and make readily available are taken care of by Scribd. Scribd wants to be the YouTube of documents. When you click on a link to a document, and the document opens in the beautiful and useful iPaper format, you are viewing the document on Scribd.

Not only does Scribd store and manage my documents, it allows me to download reference works. While working on the ballistics portion of Byron Case, I relied heavily on Gunshot Wounds by Vincent Di Maio. I guess I could have purchased it in a bookstore for the list price of $134.95, or I could have purchased it new from Amazon for only $107.96. If I was really cheap, I could have bought it used from Amazon for as little as $58.20. Instead I downloaded the book, all 424 pages, as a PDF from Scribd, for free. (Unfortunately for all you late-comers, Di Maio's book is no longer available for free download at Scribd.)

From Scribd, I also downloaded, Forensic Pathology of Trauma by Michael J. Shrum and David A. Ramsay. There is one paragraph in particular I wanted to reference from that book. It has to do with corneal cloudiness and the significance it might have with respect to Missouri v. Case. That book is 648 pages long and retails for $199. I have no idea why these authors are making their books available as free Scribd downloads, since they can charge if they wish, but I certainly appreciate the free material.

And speaking of YouTube, I hope to be putting together a few musically based videos for the site. I've never posted to YouTube, but I suspect they'll go out of their way to make it convenient for me to have them store and manage all my videos.

I touch base with Wikipedia frequently for a first look at a subject new to me. It's the free online encyclopedia. I use frequently to see if I am using a word properly, or to find a synonym. I've used just to keep current and ward off old-fogeyism.

The most valuable reference tool is of course Google. I realize that and want me to use their search engines for free, but they are going to have to up their game considerably to compete with Google.

And don't get me started on Google Maps. It allows me to walk down the streets outside the courthouse building where my trial is going to take place.

One of the new search engines that I have found useful is WolframAlpha. It's mathematically oriented, and probably not for everyone. However, navigate there and enter the following in the search field:

October 22, 1997, Kansas City, Missouri

Then hit the "=" sign to execute the search. WolframAlpha will then tell you many things you might want to know about Kansas City on October 22, 1997. That's how I learned about the hourly temperature, the hourly cloud cover, the time of sunset (by various definitions) and the phase of the moon. Turns out that information is important in Missouri v. Case. Let's see you find that information on Google.

Also I opened a free gmail account, so that you can contact me. It's Actually, the gmail accounts were so reasonably priced, I took two. You can, if you prefer, email me at Google will automatically forward all the mail sent to that free account to my other free account. So helpful.

The look and feel of the site didn't come for free, however. I contracted with my friend and collegue Ed Lewis to put together a web presence I would be able to manage on my own. Though I paid him promptly, I remain indebted to him for his professional contribution. To see more typical examples of his work, visit him at The Leucadia Project.