Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Skeptical Juror and the Texas Condemned Man

He is an unlikely watchdog over the criminal justice system, a 64-year-old former aerospace engineer from Southern California with no formal legal training. Yet his blog, The Skeptical Juror, has rapidly become must-reading for journalists, lawyers and lay persons interested in wrongful conviction cases that otherwise might escape attention.

Meet the man behind the blog, J. Bennett Allen, who stopped an injustice in its tracks as a juror in a 2007 child molestation trial. Allen, the foreperson, came to believe the defendant was innocent. The 11 other jurors thought otherwise. Using his training as an engineer, Allen skeptically questioned each piece of evidence until -- in a scene that reprised Henry Fonda's 12 Angry Men -- he converted all but two of the jurors. The judge declared a mistrial, the defendant was eventually freed and Allen morphed from a skeptical juror to The Skeptical Juror.

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