NewsKyle Rittenhouse Trial


Juror from Derek Chauvin trial speaks about stress, pressure jurors face in high profile cases

Brandon Mitchell, Juror for Derek Chauvin Trial
Posted at 6:16 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 23:41:30-05

MILWAUKEE — Jury duty is often described as one of the highest forms of public service any American can perform. But that civic duty can also come with a lot of stress and pressure.

The 12 person jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial likely feels that pressure as they deliberate.

Brandon Mitchell is familiar with the stress jurors in high profile cases face. Mitchell served on the jury during Derek Chauvin's murder trial of George Floyd. He describes the experience as traumatizing.

"The most traumatizing part is that you're recanting somebody's last minutes, somebody's last breaths, somebody's death day. So watching that over and over again and going through the scenario of what happened, how it happened, that's just a traumatic experience because there are people that have died," Mitchell said.

But it's not just during the the trial that jurors may experience feelings of stress and pressure, those emotions can last long after the final gavel. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, juror stress symptoms post trial can include: insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, stomach distress, nervousness, irritability, lack of concentration, problems in interpersonal relations, extreme moodiness and mood swings, headaches, heart palpitation, depression, crying, numbness, and post traumatic stress disorder.

Juror stress
It's not just during the the trial that jurors may experience feelings of stress and pressure, those emotions can last long after the final gavel.

"When we first finished the trial, there were definitely a few weeks where I really needed to take time to myself and really recover and jut be in a positive space," Mitchell said. "I know some of the jurors were having nightmares, were having flashbacks from when you were in the courtroom."

Jury Consultant Advisor for IMS Litigation Insights Christina Marinakis said jurors "don't always realize what [they've] gotten into, until [they're] into it. Sometimes those feelings are unexpected for folks."

Marinakis was also involved with the Chauvin trial, working with the prosecution during jury selection. She also conducts post-trial interviews with jurors, and knows first hand the emotions many face.

"It can be a bit daunting for folks, especially if you come out with a guilty verdict and you feel somewhat responsible for sending someone to prison for a very long time," Marinakis said. "On the flip side, when you're on the defense side, you can also feel just as guilty by not rendering a guilty verdict because then you feel like you've let down the victim and the people that were injured or killed in that situation."

Marinakis said she's seen a lot of jurors lean on each other to cope with the stress a trial brings. That rings true in Mitchell's experience as well.

"We did build that camaraderie throughout the experience," Mitchell said. "You have someone that's been through the exact same things as you. They understand what you're feeling, they understand what you're going through and it just makes it easy to have someone to lean on."

Derek Chauvin
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, listen as Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Matthew Frank, questions witness Donald Williams, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Tuesday, March 30, 2021 at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

Mitchell also said that the judge in Chauvin Trial let the jurors know about 24/7, free counseling available to the jury post-trial.

Another example of resources given to jurors is a pamphlet from Chester County, Pennsylvania.

TMJ4 reached out to the Kenosha County Courthouse to see if any resources would be made available to the jurors in the Rittenhouse trial, but the clerk of courts said they were not at liberty to say.

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