Ethical Behavior in Criminal Justice

You are a member of a jury. The jury is hearing a child molestation case in which the defendant is accused of a series of molestations in his neighborhood. In an attempt to ensure the jury is not unduly influenced, the judge instructs the jury and all officers of the court (any person who has an obligation to promote justice and effective operation of the judicial system, including judges, the attorneys who appear in court, bailiffs, clerks and other personnel) not to discuss the case with anyone outside the courtroom – especially anyone involved in the case. After the fourth day of trial, you happen to ride on a very full elevator with the lead prosecutor. You are standing directly behind the prosecutor. The elevator is very crowded, and it is fairly obvious that the prosecutor has not noted your presence, and/or he does not recognize you as a member of the jury. You happen to overhear the prosecutor whispering to his assistant that the defendant has a previous arrest for child molestation, but the prosecutor is not allowed to mention this fact in court because the judge believes the information would unduly prejudice the jury. Based upon what you’ve heard so far, you expected the defendant might be guilty, but now you definitely believe he is guilty. What would you do?

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