Jurors paying the price in mace case
Four men and three women dropped what they were doing last week ” whether it was work, family obligations or something else ” to hear about a July 2006 spat between two men at the S-curves.
On Friday they awarded one dollar to Jarrod Hollinger for his pain and suffering that stemmed from a road rage incident. But if there was any pain and suffering in this case, it belonged to the jury of seven.
Their date with Aspen’s judicial system began Wednesday, when jury selection began. Court testimony, meanwhile, gobbled up part of Wednesday and Thursday for the jurors, and they finished deliberations on Friday night.
Hollinger had sued Scott Courts for unspecified damages because Courts sprayed him with mace after the two motorists nearly collided near the entrance to Aspen. Courts, meanwhile, had filed a countersuit, arguing that he sprayed Hollinger in an act of self defense because he was afraid Hollinger was going to beat him up.
Friday evening, after some 10 hours of deliberations spread over the course of two days, the jury decided the plaintiff Hollinger would get what he deserves: one buck.
After the verdict, one juror said that it wasn’t about the money. Instead, she said that the decision was about teaching both parties a lesson.
Hopefully they got it. We’re not so convinced. That’s because after the trial each party suggested the verdict was symbolic of a moral victory.
Taxpayers should be reminded that their money helped pay the judge who presided over this trial, not to mention the court workers who sent out jury summonses and rifled through the paperwork connected to Hollinger vs. Courts.
As for the jury members, they should be recognized for performing their civic duty and putting their lives on hold for a few days. We believe the jury also delivered a logical verdict, and a clear message to boot.
Another appropriate verdict would have been to sentence the pair to three days of detention, make them sit in the corner of the courtroom for one hour, and order them to write “I’m sorry” 100 times on a sheet of notebook paper ” double spaced.
Unfortunately for the jurors and the taxpayers, had Courts and Hollinger put aside their egos and behaved like adults, they could have settled this spat over a cup of coffee or beer. Instead, they exploited the justice system and took their squabble to a jury of their peers. And now one of them is a dollar richer for it.
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There is a lot of pent up energy among hikers and bikers to get into the high country, but snow fields, avalanche debris and high stream crossings are presenting challenges later than usual. Forest rangers with the Aspen-Sopris District provide trail condition reports that are updated each week so hikers and backpackers aren’t caught unaware.