Seems like I am one of the few following the trials of soldiers accused of atrocities in Iraq. I follow them because I am a retired Reserve officer and because I spent time in Iraq. The latest trial concerns a 101st soldier accused of a revenge killing in Southern Iraq. This soldier is facing trial in a civilian court where it will be nearly impossible, I believe, to educate the jury on just how difficult things are and have been in Iraq. He is presumed innocent, of course. But, whatever he did or did not do, life in a war zone is hugely difficult.
When I was in Iraq, I tended to minimize the difficulties when talking to folks back home. You do not want to visit your problems on people back home. Too, as a soldier, you are never sure how much the folks back home will understand. So, the job of educating the jury will be very difficult for this civilian criminal defense lawyer.
That is not a new problem for lawyers. This trial is just more so. In the average discrimination case, for example, the challenge is educating the jury about the daily obstacles a woman faces, or a minority faces. That is why, contrary to popular belief, when we pick a jury, we seek to strike jurors biased against our client. But, we also seek to keep jurors who might have some understanding of our client’s predicament. There is a saying in Iraq that applies to juries. "Things are never easy in Iraq."
I do not know what this soldier did or did not do. But, I do know that not many on the jury will understand……