2014-10-13

Jury duty? Didn't expect my technical background to be relevant.

Jury duty? Didn't expect my technical background to be relevant.

The door rang at my condo, but I had no idea it would a defining moment back then.

??: "Mr. Bytewave? County clerk, I have a legal document for you, if you can buzz me in."

Moments later, I'm very happy. Ever since my uncle told me about his own experience serving on a jury when I was 8 or 9, I always wanted to do it too. I'm into law and politics and always valued those over IT. I just didn't think when I was younger that I'd make a killing in those fields, but that changed. I'm currently studying nights to move fields; Bytewave will not spend his life reminding frontline staff they should have reset the modem before calling after all...

Fast forward several weeks...

Crown Prosecutor: "The defense's claim that exculpatory evidence might exist on that computer is baseless and since it is no longer her property, unverifiable."

I was incredulous. Nearly everyone else on the jury was leaning towards 'guilty' in our closed door sessions that far, but that bit was just insane. The accused had a file she believed was exculpatory evidence, but no longer had physical access to the computer it was on, and had failed to convince the court a warrant to get it into evidence was needed. Time for a phone call from a secure line.

Bytewave: "Yeah, I know I'm supposed to be isolated and I don't care, that's what burners are for. I'm not sending someone to jail unless they're guilty, even if I have to be one of two dissenting voices on this 12-man jury - thankfully they need unanimity. This whole thing seems like a farce, the DA wants a win and I'm pretty sure is lying to get it. Either way, I need that file to know if the accused is telling the truth or not - you can get it for me if you're up to it."

Amelia, also senior staff at my telco: "There's no way I can get into her condo. I know it was sent through our network, but unless Internal Security cooperates there's no logs and Corp will never admit we even have the capability to see those.."

Bytewave: "I don't need logs, I need the file. I have a username and a password, all you need to do is be in the hallway with a phone or a tablet to get the truth."

Any powered-on Windows computer, even if it's not past the User prompt, will yield all it's secrets to a mobile device with the right app if you're in wifi range. All the times I watched videos over my wifi while my computer was sitting on the login prompt taught me at least that.

From a hallway, my friend gets the file with the login creds I gave her and send it to my burner.

Bytewave: "Thank you. She was telling the truth. You saved someone here Amelia. I'll see you at work soon."

My first impulse was bad. I almost emailed the file to everyone relevant. Wasn't the right play tho, and thankfully I figured that in time...

Back into jury conference...

Bytewave: "Yes, I could have sent it to the DA and the Judge, but then the way I got it would have likely been grounds for a mistrial. In this closed session where only the twelve of us know what's going on, we can deal with it more cleanly. Nobody needs to know we have this file at all, I just need everyone to look at it and make up their own minds."

Minutes later, seven weeks in, we have a verdict.

Jury lead: "Not guilty, your honor."

I broke three different laws and could have gotten my best friend in trouble. But an innocent woman about to be convicted went free - it'll always be one of the things I'm most proud to have done­. Juries exist for a reason. Be it through jury annulment or anything else, one of their duties is to give the middle finger to the law if they know it's right. Before the trial, I might have lied when they asked me if I knew what "Jury annulment" was - so I could be on the jury at all - and I might do it again.

Don't be overly honest with the system if you're truly sure lying will give a fairer outcome. The whole concept of juries boils down to defying the system if believe it's the right thing to do.

Try one of these subthreads