Not Guilty Echo Chamber?

I’ve been thinking of the term "Echo Chamber"  a lot as Deliberations Season 1 has been airing.

The point seemingly most undisputed on this season is that Carl’s a dick. At first I loved and embraced the sentiment. Listeners cared enough to hate! Yay! I even printed stickers, but as time wore on I grew slightly uncomfortable. 

For those who don’t recognize the name, Carl is the most conservative juror. He is born again and outspoken regarding his religious beliefs (as well as the way those beliefs impact his perception of the defendant). 

I’ve been meaning to discuss the controversy that is Carl. It was never my intention to create a dynamic in the jury pool that allowed for one hero, Mandy, and one villain, Carl. You’ve heard me reach out to listeners who were sympathetic to the character of Carl. I’d like to share with you a few excerpts from their emails. While you may not agree with Carl’s arguments, I’m curious if the following has any impact on the way you view him and his viewpoints. 

From a Chicago nurse and listener of Deliberations: 

The law leaves much room for interpretation and Carl interprets it through the lens in which he sees the world. The reason we have juries of more  than one person is so that the melting pot of people from all walks of life can make a decision after weighing all options. Having people like Carl and Mandy in the same jury brings balance and equality to the decision making process.

From a listener named Lisa: 

A jury should be a cross section of our community. If we are in the Bible Belt, there will be a heavy biblical influence in the juries decision. If a jury is seated in San Fransisco the jury will be influenced by very liberal beliefs. The reason for this is that no matter what our beliefs are we must live with and learn to interact with the majority of folks that live in our community, so we will be judged by their consciences.  

And finally from a listener named Michael:

In describing Carl as close-minded or biased, I think people are usually just naming his very specific worldview. In other words, he has a specific Christian understanding of the world, which I relate to. Something to keep in mind is that Christianity has a pretty clear set of morals and ethics (even if different groups of Christians might define those a little differently). While it's true that morality and legality are not the same thing, they're always inextricable. Our laws regarding murder include a lot of vague references to "ill will" and even "evil". Therefore, when Carl's faith suggests that being a member of the BDSM community is evil, it's easy for him to connect the dots to this case, and infer that the defendant is guilty. It would also be unfair to tell Carl to discount his faith for the sake of this case, because he happens to represent what I assume is a fair cross-section of Samantha's peers.

This case is complicated. Could Carl do a better job of considering multiple points of view? Yes. Could Mandy? Yes. Could I? Yes. Could you?


Let me know your thoughts and whether these excerpts have in any way altered your opinion of Carl. I’m excited for everyone to hear the conclusion to this season’s deliberations this Wednesday. Thanks to everyone for reading this and joining in debate over the controversial and frustrating case of Samantha Hall.

Verdicts Under Audit. Lizzie Borden.

Verdicts Under Audit. Lizzie Borden.

On August 4th 1892 Andrew and Abby Borden were stabbed to death with a hatchet in their Fall River Massachusetts home. Almost immediately the police focused on Andrew's younger daughter, 33 year old Lizzie. Her dubious alibi of being outside in a stifling hot barn was almost as suspicious as the burning of her dress shortly after the murders.



While conducting research for Deliberations Season One (featuring an alleged murder associated with BDSM) two cases appeared in my google news search I was surprised and dismayed to discover. The first was the Dublin homicide of a woman named Elaine O’Hara. She was a suicidal childcare assistant with a history of mental illness, including depression and borderline personality disorder. Her murderer was a man named Graham Dwyer, a married architect with children. Graham nursed a fantasy of stabbing a woman to death during sex since his adolescence, and he preyed upon the vulnerability and psychiatric fragility of Elaine O’Hara to meet that end in August of 2012.



The 12 member jury is generally considered a “historical accident.” When the US was formed, deference was given to many examples of English common law (law derived from custom rather than statute), and the twelve member jury was one of them. In other words, we’re doing it because the guys before us were doing it, who were doing it because the guys before them were doing it, so no one knows why the number 12 became a thing in the first place.