Jurors in the corruption trial of former Gov. George Ryan did not expected episodes from their own pasts to be scrutinized by lawyers and laid out for the world to see, reports the Chicago Tribune. Juror Denise Peterson, a substitute teacher, is furious that Ryan’s attorneys are questioning the credentials of three jurors who failed to disclose arrests from more than 20 years ago. “I’m waiting for them to go after me for the three library books I forgot to return,” said Peterson, 44. “We laugh about it now, but it’s the little things that are coming out. I mean, how many people have gotten into fights with their siblings? I’m sure they’re trying to call my sister to see how many times I hit her.” Among claims attorneys investigated was a report that a male juror had been arrested in 1980 for allegedly hitting his sister.
Joshua Morrill, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in juries’ decision-making, said the news that the defense unearthed old criminal charges against several other panel members could have potentially disastrous effects on an already unstable jury system. Some jurors, already jaded by the system, might not be willing to do anything that would attract attention during deliberations, especially if this case ends in a mistrial, Morrill said.