Judiciary

Texas Supreme Court justice serves as juror in shoplifting case

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Texas Supreme Court Justice Jeff Brown says the two days he spent as a juror in a shoplifting case last week reaffirmed what he had experienced as a trial judge: Jurors are very conscientious and they work hard to follow their instructions.

Brown was chosen as jury foreman in the case of Virgil Crawford, who pleaded guilty to felony theft for shoplifting but wanted a jury to determine his sentence, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

Crawford had stolen hamburger meat and toys for his children—merchandise worth about $45—from a Wal-Mart before Christmas last year. He faced a possible sentence of two to 20 years in prison.

Crawford had 27 prior convictions, including three felonies. But the felonies were decades old. One of the felonies was arson, which stemmed from an attempt to light a cigarette by shoving a pencil into a prison electrical outlet, according to defense lawyer Dawn Meredith.

Brown told the American-Statesman that some jurors initially wanted light or heavy penalties, but “a good chunk of people were right around where we ended up.” Crawford was sentenced to six years in prison.

“I feel like it went pretty smoothly,” Brown told the newspaper. “I was pretty happy with it.”

Crawford was also satisfied with the result, Meredith told the newspaper. She said that after the decision, Crawford hugged her and shook the hand of his other lawyer, Erick Bovik, who is Meredith’s husband. Crawford also “had very nice things to say about the prosecutors. He thanked them, said he understood they were doing their job, that there were no hard feelings, and he promised to turn life around.”

Brown is a justice on the state’s highest court for civil matters, so there is no possibility the case would come before him on appeal. His tweet about the experience is here.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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