Elizabeth Holmes is the founder of Theranos who got charged with various counts of wire fraud. I haven’t been following her trial much at all, but I was struck by a news item about it this week.
What happened is that a juror was dismissed for playing Sudoku while the trial was going on. This led to her being called out by the judge:
“I do have Sudoku, but it doesn’t interfere with me listening,” the juror said. “I’m very fidgety, so I need to do something with my hands. So at home I’ll crochet while I’m watching or listening to T.V.”
In chambers, [Judge Edward] Davila asked the juror: “So has this distracted you from listening?”
“No,” the juror said.
“Have you been able to follow and retain everything that is going on in the courtroom?” Davila asked. “Oh, yeah, definitely,” the juror said.
I guess the judge wasn’t buying it because the juror was dismissed. This seems a bit harsh. A lot of what happens in any trial doesn’t take one’s full attention to follow. I don’t see anything wrong, at least to the point of disqualification, with doing a puzzle. It’s not much worse than doodling.
As part of the same story there was another item that caught my eye. Apparently this is the third juror to have been dismissed, as “a second juror was removed two weeks ago after revealing that, due to her Buddhist beliefs, she could not in good conscious [sic} return a verdict that may send Holmes to prison.”
This surprised me as well. Buddhists can’t send people to prison? I could see them being against the death penalty, but they’re against all incarceration? That seems like a pretty strict sort of Buddhism. I wonder if this was just an excuse the juror was using so they could go home. But then why did they take so long to notify the judge about their having an issue with the penalty? And shouldn’t this have come up during the jury selection process? This trial is a pretty big deal, after all.
Anyway, there you have it. You can’t play Sudoku in the jury box and if you’re a Buddhist . . . I guess you can’t be on a jury at all, at least if there’s any jail time involved.