This Is So Disturbing

Sometimes we’d just rather not know, because knowing seems to include a responsibility to do something, and not only can’t we do anything (other than a blog post, I guess) but we wouldn’t be too sure what to do even if we could do something.

Anyhow.  There’s a guy named Paul Sanders.  He apparently sat on a jury in a death penalty case in Maricopa County Arizona, where a woman named Marissa Devault was convicted of killing her husband, named Dale Harrell, with hammer blows to the head.  After the trial he wrote a book about his jury “experience”.

And he writes a blog where he talks about other death penalty cases as well, including of course the Jodi Arias case which comes out of the same increasingly weird Arizona backwater.

The guy is unbelievably self-absorbed:

A political science professor told me once in my senior year of college, “You are altruistic to a fault.”  I would hope that all of us in this room are the same way.  That we are united in the belief that despite the horror of what human beings do to each other, we can find the good from of it.  We will search through the wreckage of what any trial is, a search for lessons.  Closure comes when one is ready and, sometimes, it may never come at all.

He promises more.  Ugh:

I believe I have eleven more books in me.  The first eight will be from one to two trials a year.  Then, there are three on the shelves: “Mortician”,  “Limousine: Looking Back” and “The King’s Crown”.  This would give us thirteen books.

He has a special gift from God.  We’re not making this up:

The driving force behind this site is this special ability that God has given me.  I do not understand where some of my creations come from. I love the art of a good title, “The Logistics of Serendipity”, being one of my favorite.  Maybe my writings are “Flowery and Slanted”, maybe there is some bias, a confirmatory bias, toward the victim. And, maybe, it favors the jury.  It is in the jury that we find justice.  If we do not, then we find the lessons…One might hope that my gift can clarify the confusion and pain that one suffers as a family feels in a murder trial.  If it helps one person have faith when the night is darkest, then my gift is worth the effort.

This is the nightmare juror.  The trial is about whether the accused is guilty, and that’s all it’s about.  It’s not about the victims.  And it’s certainly not about the lawyers, or the jurors, although they are the main actors in the production.

To a juror like this guy, though, a trial of someone else, about something with no connection to him, will wind up being about him.

One Amazon reviewer of his book gets it:

Sounds to me like this person should never have been on a jury to begin with, also hope Marissa Devault’s attorneys can use this book to prove juror misconduct. She hasn’t had her first appeal yet.

Yeah.  What she said.

Lawyers should be thinking about how to ferret out narcissistic assholes like this in jury selection.  We don’t think there’s any easy way to do that, though.

Food for thought.



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6 responses to “This Is So Disturbing

  1. This is why I totally disagree with jurors being allowed to write books or blogs about a case they were chosen to participate in.
    The jury foreman in Arias case actually seeked interviews from pro prosecution bloggers.
    During the era of Scott Peterson’s trial, anyone writing about the case made a fortune. The jurors made a lot of money and Peterson’s so called mistress bought a house and opened a spa.
    If they were forced to remain silent about it, it might attract real jurors.
    And even if they are told not to judge the defendant’s demeanor, it seems that they are often too eager to give their assessment of the defendant’s feelings or lack of remorse.
    And it is not about the victim’s family so apologizing to them or giving them a ‘look’ should be enough to realize they didn’t get the instructions.

    Marissa Devault escaped the death penalty and had the lovely Janeen DeMarte calling her a sociopath. Her life was saved by the testimony of her children.

    The after trial interviews should be used for the appeal.


    • Well, I’d have to devote a lot of thought to “prohibiting” this kind of thing. In some ways I think it’s a lot better to have it out in the open where everyone can see it.

      Sometime my thoughts drift to that whole Scott Peterson thing, too. I thought that was a frenzy as well, maybe not quite as crazy as Casey Anthony or Jodi Arias but certainly enough to make you scratch your head and wonder whether people hadn’t lost their minds and focused on the wrong person.


      • mn

        The Peterson trial was the biggest thing since OJ. They had a giant billboard, in front of the courthouse, asking people to vote guilty or innocent. His lawyer, Geragos, didn’t show up at the sentencing. This guy also has no record and they had zero physical evidence in the house, truck or anywhere else of a struggle, never mind a killing or transport, despite the fact that he opened the house to the cops immediately. This is just a déjà vu, mob rule.
        In the Arias case there were eleven just like this guy, not counting the alternates or the ones from the first phase. I bet not one of them could even name the aggravator, they have no idea what even made her eligible for the death penalty, zero. For that matter, I’d like them to explain how they reached the conclusion that she’s guilty of premeditated AND felony murder simultaneously.
        This is a nightmare juror? This is a nightmare husband, father, BF, neighbor, he would make a nightmare pool guy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I should have specified that I think it should be illegal for jurors to profit from their participation at trial. If they want to talk publicly or write about it, it is another story. It does give us an idea of their state of mind and reasoning power.

        I read Scott Peterson’s appeal brief and the State Attorney General’s response brief as I was not very familiar with the case. This man was found guilty and received the death penalty because of his trial by media. I don’t think they proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And the jurors profited from this Circus.


  2. Yes, indeed, this Paul Sanders guy is something else. I will say first that I admire his dedication to writing and publishing. But that’s where the flattery stops. I messaged him awhile back and asked him politely if he might be using a recording device in court. It just seemed to me he had too many details for a pad and pencil note taker. He didn’t bother to answer, which could have saved him perhaps from going before the court. It’s that type of arrogance that has taken over trial watchers on the prosecution side of Jodi’s trial.

    Liked by 1 person

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