Witnessing Injustice: Katrina Robertson’s Take on the Broken Jury System

Show Notes

Journey into the depths of our flawed justice system with Katrina Robertson in this captivating episode of Faithfully Engaged. As a former juror in a high-profile murder trial, Katrina witnessed firsthand the limitations and manipulation that exist within the jury system.

Explore the challenges jurors face, from limited information access to emotional manipulation, as they strive to deliver justice. Discover the importance of understanding the complexities of the legal system and advocating for reforms. Katrina’s book, Amazon Juror Number Eleven, offers a powerful and personal account of her experiences and resilience journey.

If you’re interested in criminal justice reform or want to gain insights into the flaws in the jury system, this episode is a must-watch! In this episode, you will be able to: Discover the alarming flaws of our broken justice system and why it desperately needs reform. Uncover the hidden tactics of emotional manipulation used in trials that can sway a jury’s decision. Learn how limited information access for jurors can lead to biased and uninformed verdicts.

Juror #11: A Memoir Of The Broken Justice System And Rising From The Trials Of Life: https://amzn.to/47AjlP7

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00:00:09 – Johnny Sanders
All right, well, welcome back to another episode. We have an interesting topic today. I’m sure everybody listening that has been on jury duty has very fond of memories of being on jury. And another interesting thing about this guest, if my mom is listening, she’ll be proud of this. My mom taught me growing up that there is an OBU best and an OBU West. And I went to the OBU west of Oklahoma Baptist University, and my mom went to OBU Best, the Washtall Baptist University. And my guest Katrina went to Washtall Baptist University. So, Katrina, why don’t you tell the listeners a little bit about yourself?

00:00:54 – Katrina Robertson
Sure. Absolutely. Yeah. And it’s funny, I was on another podcast episode where the host was reading where I’d graduated, and he said, a graduate of Ochita Baptist University. He did that intro, though, after we had recorded it. And then I’m glad that he sent me the preview because I was like, he was from, I think, maybe Michigan. So anyway, when I went back and listened to the podcast after the fact, he just completely eliminated the name. It’s just one of those. I tried to spell it phonetically. It’s like wash tall. But, yeah, if you’re not familiar, it looks like a doozy to pronounce. But yes, I did graduate from Washta with a degree in professional accounting, did public accounting for a while. I’ve been a financial planner and advisor, more specifically, a compliance officer for a local wealth management firm here in Hot Springs, Arkansas, for the past 16 years now. Been married for 27 years then. My husband is a chaplain and was a pastor, and for many years before he began doing the chaplain work. We have five children, two biological, three adopted. Two of the ones came from foster care. The third one more or less kind of adopted off the streets. That’s a whole nother story. But then more recently, like you mentioned, I wrote a book, published it at the beginning of this year. And it was after last year, I had had this experience where I was called to serve on jury duty for a murder trial. And I won’t completely give everything away, but the short story is I ended up with contempt of court charges. A mistrial was granted in the original murder trial. Then I had my own hearing and was faced with possibility of jail time. And it was five months of hard, just a really trying time out my life, where I was kind of simultaneously juggling significant, heartbreaking situations with a couple of my kiddos and got to the other side of it. And I was like, you know what? I’m going to write a book. Kind of tell my side of the story here.

00:03:37 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah. So with this whole process, let’s kind of start in just some basics, maybe not necessarily just with your individual story, but overall, through your process and what you’ve learned, what are just some of the flaws of the jury system that we have that maybe a lot of people that maybe haven’t been in a jury or haven’t been involved in a tough case don’t quite understand.

00:04:08 – Katrina Robertson
Right. That’s a little bit of a hard question to answer. I can tell you one of the problems I personally had with the jury system. Again, part of this is me and my personality. But what I discovered, that as a jury member, you’re expected to sit, listen, do as you’re told, ask no questions, go with group think, and that I’m very much of an analytical, want to know the whole story, the full picture. I view the responsibility as a huge one, that you are kind of tasked with the responsibility of really determining. In this case, we’re talking about murder in the first degree charge. Everybody knows that when you serve on a jury, you’re not allowed to seek out information about the case outside of the courtroom, and you’re not allowed to talk about the case, even amongst this was a four day trial. And so even us as jurors, when we would be in the jury room, you’re not allowed to speak about it when witnesses are giving testimony. You can’t raise your hand and say, can I ask a question? You can’t do any of that. And I really struggled because it became very clear that information is very much cherry picked for the jury, and it’s given to you in a very emotionally manipulative way. I’m sure everybody has at one time or another, watched a TV show or a movie where there’s a court scene and you see all of the theatrics that the attorneys put on. And I really, truly thought that was just made for movies. And I got in there and sat down for opening statements, and I thought, oh, my goodness, these people have a minor in theater or something. And that really kind of bothered me because I was like, I mean, I understand they’re trying to hold our attention, but I’m not here to be entertained. I only want the facts. And it’s kind of like I’m not one that can be emotionally manipulated. I mean, maybe for some people, a fact or a piece of testimony, if it’s told in a certain way, maybe they believe it more. I don’t know. But I’m very much just give me the facts, things like the prosecution displaying a large blown up picture of the victim’s autopsied body for us to view during closing arguments. I mean, is that necessary? You see what I’m saying? Like pulling a family member, a daughter of the victim up to testify, who was estranged from her father for five years, no communication or been with him at all, has no ability to testify to the event or his character or anything. It’s just simply for us as a jury to see a family member emotionally upset. You see what I’m saying? I don’t doubt that this individual went through regardless of whether they were estranged. That’s irrelevant. Having their father killed, that’s going to be traumatic. But not a credible witness, only to play on the jury’s emotions. You see what I’m saying?

00:08:07 – Johnny Sanders

00:08:07 – Katrina Robertson
So my problem is, if you are the judge in a case, right, you have the ability to ask questions. You have the ability to. So in this particular case, there was 17 witnesses called for the state prosecution, 17 witnesses that did nothing but basically say the same thing over and over again. She shot her husband. Oh, I didn’t even tell you what the case was. It was a 60 year old woman who had shot and killed her husband. So that’s the case. And she’s being charged with first degree murder. First degree. The statute is, we had to be able to say beyond a reasonable doubt that she intended to kill her husband. Her claim was self defense. So 17 witnesses for the state that all basically say she shot him, which there was never anything debatable about that. None of them, though, are able to prove that she intended to. Well, then, so then it’s the defense’s turn, and there’s 14 witnesses, but every time one gets up to speak, prosecution objects. Judge sustains, and they’re not allowed to speak. Only three of her witnesses were able to speak. So we’re left, as a jury, not allowed to know what those witnesses were going to testify about, why it was objected to. And it’s kind of like we were given instructions at the beginning that we, as the jury, also had the responsibility to judge the witnesses credibility, their character, whether it was relative or not. And we did not have that opportunity with nearly all of the defense’s witnesses. So I’m like, I felt like we were very much treated as kind of ignorant. There’s lots of, and obviously, none of us went to law school. But if you’re going to task us with this responsibility, then trust us that we’re smart enough to have some common sense here. There’s lots of hushed conversations at the bench. And then if they want to hash things out even more, they ask the jury to leave. And I’m like, should I not be viewed as somebody that can determine relevance versus irrelevance and be able to make a decision based on the facts? You see what I’m saying? And I’m doing a whole lot of talking here, so you just interrupt me if you have a question or something. And also the rule about not being able to research the case, those were all rules that were put into place back when really the only access to information a jury would have would be outdated newspapers, maybe hearsay from people in the town. Nowadays, we literally have non biased factual information literally at the tips of our fingertips. And it’s just if we just skip forward. So what was my contempt of court? What was it that happened? Well, I. So throughout this four day trial, while I guess, you know, the fourth day is when we deliberated and gave our verdict. So three days worth of hearing this case, we really never learned much about either the defendant or the victim. All we really knew is that she was a 60 year old piano teacher who shot and killed her husband, supposedly out of self defense. But anything in the realm of talking about that self defense was not allowed. As far as the victim, we knew his name, we knew his age, and we knew that he died by a gunshot and that there was allegations that he was an alcoholic and abusive. But anything in the realm of talking about possible alcoholism or abusiveness was not allowed.

00:13:06 – Johnny Sanders
What’s the rationale between that not being able to be discussed?

00:13:11 – Katrina Robertson
So here was the thing. Of course, after the fact, I’m a researcher by nature, so after the fact, I didn’t have a problem at all not researching the case, per se, because sitting there listening to people talk about it for three days, I could guarantee you I could tell you more about the case than anything I could dig up online. But like I said, what I didn’t know was the two main people, the defendant and the victim. No, I’m not quite answering your question yet. I’ll circle around to it. But I was like, that night before we were going to go in for deliberations, I was like, I wonder if I just put his name into this court search engine, if anything will come up. I put his name in there. Nothing came up. That was the extent of what I had done. We go back that fourth day after closing arguments, go back to deliberate after we had deliberated. And in the book I write, I’m very transparent with how difficult of a process it was. I was very emotional during deliberation. One thing I talk about in the book is I’m not sure whether it was having to utter the words guilty about another human being. I mean, it just really fell heavy on me. But anyway, after we were donE, and I’m very transparent in the book about how emotional I was and stuff, I made the offhanded comment. I said, I don’t know about you guys, but it really bothered me that so many of the defendants witnesses weren’t allowed to speak. And I wish we knew more about the victim. And I tried to look him up, but I didn’t find anything. And that was kind of the extent. We ended up voting unanimously not guilty on first degree, but guilty on second degree. Go out there, give our verdict and sentencing. I think, praise Jesus, that’s over. Three days later, another juror goes back to the courthouse and files juror misconduct complaint against me. And then the defense attorney grabbed hold of that and wanted contempt of court against me in a mistrial. So that’s what happened. Okay, so why did they not allow any of that? So then after the fact, when we went to the mistrial hearing, as far as we all got summoned back to court, all the jurors, all the defense prosecution witnesses, we all have to go back to court and we’re like, oh, my goodness, what’s this about? They pull us jurors in one at a time. They saved me for last. So I’m like, this is about me. Get in there. And this defense attorney just absolutely slanders me, lies about me, rips me up one side and down the other. I include the transcript in the book. It was a horrific experience. But I kept hearing him say during that trial, arguing that the state fought so hard to disallow 404 B evidence. So of course I go home and I’m like, what in the world is 404 B evidence? And look it up. Well, it’s evidence that is related to an individual’s, basically their character based on prior acts, and that it can be disallowed in criminal cases. The whole idea behind it is, okay, maybe he had the history and character of being an alcoholic or abusive, but was he abusive and drunk in that particular moment? My thing is his history absolutely is relevant, because if you’ve got somebody who has been abused, there can be that moment where maybe they’ve been abused worse before than they have this time, but they snap. They don’t necessarily plan out a murder, but that kind of heated the moment kind of thing. Now that’s been changed now, and it varies from state to state. But I’m pretty sure now, and this is without me doing lots of research, that they can’t do that in self defense motives for defendants. But that obviously is something recent. All of those individuals obviously had something to testify about, either prior incidences or his character or maybe even her character in general, and they didn’t allow any of it. And I’m kind of like all of those people could have absolutely been completely uncredible, not relevant, but I don’t know. We weren’t given the opportunity to make that judgment, but yet we were tasked with the responsibilities of literally being the judge in the situation. So anyway, that is a 15 minutes answer to your response there of what is wrong with the jury system. There was a lot of nuances to my particular case that I was involved in that made it not a cut and dry case, where obviously there are some cases out there that are not going to have all these different nuances, but some people may hear my story and say, well, there isn’t a problem with the justice system. Juror number eleven, she was obviously the problem. She didn’t do what she was supposed to. And I’m like, I can totally take responsibility for that. But is that one action, me making an offhanded comment after we had already done deliberations? Is our justice system so fragile that that completely overturned the entire trial? You see what I’m saying? When they pulled us all in to determine if I had truly committed misconduct, that there was misconduct, like I said, they pulled all the jurors out one at a time, and they basically asked them if there had been any misconduct. There were only two jurors that had any recollection of anything ever even being said, which certainly goes to say that I obviously was not sitting there in the jury room trying to prejudice or persuade or. You know what I’m sayinG? But I just realized how much room there is within the justice system for manipulation and power plays. I kind of went in there with this idea that it’s all about truth and facts and justice, and I’m like, no, it’s about how well you can manipulate rules to your advantage. It left a bad taste in my.

00:21:08 – Johnny Sanders
Mouth for sure when you say that, too. Only two have that, and you talk about manipulation. Where my mind kind of immediately goes is if we have a high profile case and we want to get a mistrial, two people say something like, what if it’s not even true?

00:21:30 – Katrina Robertson
Well, and of course, I’m not going to lie on the stand. I guess I could have been like, no, I didn’t look him up. I didn’t say anything. But, I mean, I wasn’t going to do that. I typed his name in a court database, and I didn’t find anything. And that’s what I said. But the thing that was so bizarre about the whole thing that I said, most people who read my story kind of walk away going, what in the world? So, like I said, it was the defense attorney that was the one pushing for a mistrial. Well, like I said, we came back not guilty on first degree and guilty on second degree by him fighting for a mistrial. He opened his client up to the possibility of first degree murder all over again. So it was kind of like, I’m sitting there in that courtroom, and he fought harder for my contempt of court charges than he fought for his client through four days of a trial. And I’m like, what in the world is going on? I don’t understand. Is he just trying to keep his hands in her pockets to drag this out longer? He was not a public defender. He was a private attorney. So it was just kind of like, of course, I ended up having to go get my own attorney. And I sat down with him, and he said, of course, the weight of feeling like I was the sole cause because obviously there was no maliciousness or ill intent. Like, I went in there wanting to do the best I could for both the prosecution and the defense. You see what I’m like, both the family of the victim and the defendant, that was my desire. And then to have all of this happen and then to complicate it a little bit additional, I’ll throw this in. Another issue was that I knew the judge on a personal level. And so the defense attorney then throws that out in there, and so he refuses himself, and another judge steps in. And so then to be put in this position where, like, oh, my gosh, what in the world is happening? And I was sitting in the first meeting with my attorney, and I’m in tears and emotional because I had written out a statement to read, and the judge would not allow me to read it. And I’m like, I said, I just wanted the opportunity to apologize. This was not my intent. He said, katrina, he said, you’re not a bad person. He said, you actually are a dream of a juror because it’s very apparent you walked into that trial with the perspective of that defendant was innocent unless you proved her guilty. And he said, very few people are actually able to walk into a trial with that perspective. And it was apparent you did, which is absolutely the truth. And why I had a problem right from the get go, because not only you kind of have, like I mentioned, almost all of her witnesses not being allowed to speak, but also if people aren’t aware of how it works. When you have a trial, prosecution goes first with opening statements and then the defense goes, and then the prosecution gets another go at it. And then the prosecution gets first go at all their witnesses, and then defense second turn, closing arguments. Prosecution gets first go, defense gets to say something, then prosecution gets to rebuttal it all. And then also in this case, there were four attorneys for the prosecution and only one for the defense. So the whole thing seemed very unbalanced. Well, the argument for that was, well, because in our justice system, they’re innocent, right, until proven guilty. So therefore, we give a whole lot more weight, coverage, maneuverability or whatever to the prosecution because they’re the ones with the burden of proof. Well, the reality is that most people go in there wanting the burden to be on proving they’re. Anyway, you know, my, my know. He said, Katrina, do jurors talk about the know amongst themselves and probably even with family members and friends outside the courtroom if it’s a multiple day trial? He’s like, absolutely they do. Maybe there are some that are like black and white Rules. And he said, now do jurors probably look stuff up about the case and the parties involved? He Said, probably Most people spend half their day on Google, and why not? He says, it’s natural you’re going to do it. He said, has things that people have found online been brought up during time in the jury Room? He said, probably. It’s probably happened. He said, but has another juror come back three days later after a unanimous decision and complained about it? He said, never in the history of at least our county, I can’t speak nationwide. But he Said, no. He Said, katrina, you’re a Unicorn. He Said, and then to have the testimony that was given in the Hearing, not only, but then to also the judge decide on a mistrial, he says, we really don’t even know what to do with you. Well, I was like, hi, My name is Katrina. My Life is Just kind of one Big train wreck after another.

00:28:00 – Johnny Sanders
With this fellow Juror. Did you have any suspicion at all? Did you have any Bad Blood or anything? Or was this.

00:28:12 – Katrina Robertson
Well, that’s Interesting that you asked that, Because I did have. When we all got called back to court and stuff and after they put me on the hot seat and I locked eyes with her sitting out there in the courtroom. And it hit me. I was like, it’s her. She’s the one that came up. And so when we were deliberating, like I Said, this is a Woman, 60 Years old, shot, Killed her husband. She’d never been in trouble before. She was a piano teacher for her whole life and claiming self defense and stuff. When we very first started deliberating, our first initial vote that we took, there was actually nine jurors that voted guilty on first degree murder before we really kind of then got in and started arguing about it. She was the one that was most vocal on wanting first degree murder and the most reluctant to back down off of that and go with second. I disclose a couple of our conversations, and she very much was like, what about the victim’s family? And they deserve justice. She talks about an incident where she passed the defendant in the parking lot, and, oh, my gosh, I can’t believe very much viewed her as just simply the title of murderer. And then when we got to sentencing, how we decided to handle sentencing was the maximum sentencing for the second degree murder. And there was also an additional charge where, again, I think it’s just state by state. If you kill somebody with a firearm, it’s an additional charge. Which was ridiculous, because I’m like, so if you blunted them to death with a mallet, that’s no extra time for that, but you shoot them with a gun anyway. Try to make sense out of politics. So since she had shot him with a gun, there was an additional sentencing for that. But combined, the maximum was 40 years. So we decided how we would handle it is we would go around the room, and we would just give the number of how long we thought the sentencing should be. And, I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know if you can imagine being that situation. Like, you’re getting ready to say how long somebody ought to spend. And also, we’re talking about a 60 year old woman. It was huge to me. I couldn’t understand how these people were, like, while we were taking breaks, like, talking about basketball and weather. I obviously don’t have the aptitude to be a judge to do that. Day in and day out, we start to go around the room, and as we go around the room, it’s 20 years, 20 years, 20 years, 20 years. So it was obvious and very much in juries, you realize how real the whole group think is. I’m not a group think person, though. I don’t have a problem going against Gurney, but you could tell, like, whoever, the first couple of people, whatever they said you could tell everybody else is like, I’m not going to make waves. 20 years. 20 years. Well, it got to her, and she said 40 years. Like I said, she was very much like, they need to be hung, rot in prison. Well, I was the last person to throw the vote out there. So to counter what we were going to do is we’re going to take an average of what everybody said, and that would be our sentencing. So to counteract her 40 years, I said zero. To basically just nullify that and keep it at 20 years. Well, when I did that, I got a really big eye roll from her anyway, so I said all that. Obviously, she and I had some differences. But here’s the thing. I don’t think that she went back up there to the courthouse to complain about me necessarily out of a vengeful type attitude. I honestly don’t think she thought all of that was going to happen. You know what I mean? I think she probably was. And again, I’m jumping a little bit into politics here. I think she’s kind of like one of those mask police kind of people, like a Katrina, if you may, where it’s like she didn’t follow the rules and she admitted she didn’t follow the rules. And by golly, we got to make. Doesn’t matter if the fact that she, quote, unquote, broke a rule had zero implications in anything. Everybody needs to be aware that she broke a rule. Like that kind of attitude.

00:33:38 – Johnny Sanders

00:33:40 – Katrina Robertson
Where your focus on the rule actually causes more collateral damage than the breakage of the rule would have. And that’s why I say the mask police. And I know that’s not what this episode is about, but it’s like, we got to enforce this rule because it’s important, because it protects people and saves people. And you don’t think about all the collateral damage that this quote unquote rule causes. I kind of equate it to, like, in school zones, the speed limit is like 20 miles an hour, for obvious reasons. There could be children running around that’s not paying attention. And so you should go slower. It’s a rule that makes sense. But if you are so focused on not going over 20 that you’re just staring at your speedometer to make sure you don’t go over 20 and you hit a kid because of it. Okay, so you’ve completely missed the point. You know what I mean? Right. So it’s kind of like those, like I said, the mask police. Like, well, I wasn’t going over 20. So I didn’t do anything wrong. No. Anyway, so, yeah, that’s my crazy story.

00:34:59 – Johnny Sanders
During your side of things. So you’re in contempt of court and all of that. How long of a process did that take for your own justice system?

00:35:11 – Katrina Robertson
Right? So it felt like 500 million years. It was actually only five months, but the only reason it took five months was because. And I wrote the book in kind of a diary format to where the beginning of the story is April 9 of last year, and it was actually the day of my daughter’s wedding. So I was in the midst of preparing for her wedding when my phone buzzes, and I am summoned to jury duty on Monday. The wedding was on Saturday. And I’m like, awesome. I’ve got to go to jury duty. So that’s the start of the story is April 9. And then it was, like, April 13 or whatever, when she came back and complained. Anyway, in the next week or something. So then I guess they all had their meetings at the courthouse and decided, yes, we’ve got a. And the defense attorney is like, yeah, I want contempt of court. I want a mistrial. We all got called back to court. I think it was, like may twelveth, I believe, somewhere in there. We got the letter the next week saying we have to go back to court. And so there was, like, a couple of weeks of kind of, like, this anxiety of, like, what in the world? What’s going on? So I had a couple of weeks there until we went back to court. We go back to court. Like I said, I think it was, like, may twelveth. So it was almost a month after the trial, and then at that hearing, that’s when the judge says, yes, you’re in contempt of court. And she gave me a summons to show cause for June 27. So that was then another six ish weeks of where I was meeting with my attorney and really just kind of feeling like my world was falling apart. Like, I completely took myself off all social media. There was these horrible news articles that were like, don’t Google my name. Just don’t Google my name. I’ve had another podcast where they posted links to the articles. With the podcast, I’m like, it just makes my stomach turn. But like I said, I’m a financial advisor, a compliance officer, no less. In a small town, people talk, right? It was a very difficult time for me because I was also juggling some really heart wrenching stuff with my kids. And so I just kind of stepped away. I mean, didn’t step away from life and when you read the book, you’ll see what I’m talking about. But as far as disengaged from social media and that kind of thing. But then. So we go to court on June 27, and I’m thinking, I just want it over with. You know what I mean? Well, so we go, and my attorney objects to the fact that the prosecution, the state, did not bring any witnesses, and the judge agrees and continues the case. I spell it all out and include the court transcripts and stuff in the book. It all happened very fast, and it was like he was wanting the juror that complained about me, like he wanted a chance to cross examine her, which I’m kind of like, yeah, absolutely. I’d love to have her on the hot seat as well. I said, but can we say, never mind. We don’t object to no witnesses. Like, seriously, I just want this over. But it all just happened real fast. She continued it and reset it for August 3. So I’m like, another six weeks of just, like, that pit in your stomach. And the whole entire time, I have my attorney telling me that I could face a year in jail. And to sit in a room when you’re, like, a professional, a Christian woman, a leader in the church, the oxygen left the room, you know what I mean? And trying to. Finding myself, trying to plan and prepare for the worst was just. It was kind of like. I kind of felt like I was in this alternate reality. So then we finally do have my hearing on August 3. So that’s April, May, June, July, August. That’s only four months. So another month goes by, and I’ll just kind of leave a little bit of a cliffhanger. The reason why I say it was five months is because I really didn’t feel like I was. Even though, no, I didn’t have to spend any time in jail. You’ll have to just read the book to find out what my, quote, punishment was. And you’ll say, seriously? But I didn’t feel like it was true. Everybody was like, aren’t you so glad it’s over and all that? Well, there was still this supposed mistrial for this defendant, and anytime her case was talked about in the newspaper, my name was talked about in the newspaper. So I didn’t feel like it was going to be completely over for me until it was over for her. And that didn’t wrap up for another month. But I’ll leave a cliffhanger out there and say that there actually never was a mistrial and just let you wonder what in the world happened then of yet another, like, try to scratch your head and figure out this, quote, justice system. And then if you want just another twist in the story, I actually have developed a pretty close relationship with the defendant. We talk regularly. She’s actually giving one of my son’s piano lessons via Zoom from prison. So anyway, life takes us on crazy journeys sometimes.

00:41:48 – Johnny Sanders
Absolutely. Which I’m imagining a year ago. You know that’s your daughter’s weding, right?

00:41:55 – Katrina Robertson
Yeah. A year ago, I still hadn’t even had my hearing yet.

00:42:03 – Johnny Sanders

00:42:04 – Katrina Robertson

00:42:06 – Johnny Sanders
Well, I know this was said to you. You’re kind of the unicorn. This was a very specific example. There’s really not a ton of other cases like this out there, right. But for somebody that’s listening or just people that you hear in general for jury duty, that generally they’re going to just happen and not be that big of a deal. But how can people be not solve this, but be aware and maybe be more of an advocate for a more justice system? What can people do to be a little bit more involved?

00:42:45 – Katrina Robertson
Oh, goodness. I think that you just have to kind of go in if you do have jury duty, especially if it’s something like a murder type case, go in with the right head on Your shoulders and perspective that I was naive in not realizing there was as much manipulation and power plays that go on and just being aware of that. And for goodness sake, if you’re going to look something up, don’t mention it. Don’t do that. And the thing that was frustrating for me, I knew that at the end of the day, if I had found anything, I knew that you are forced to consider only what is presented in the trial for the case. And I didn’t have a problem doing that. And that was one of the things that made the verdict and sentencing so difficult for me is because really, the reality is I was even struggling with second degree murder. My heart wanted to go with manslaughter or completely acquitter. That’s what my heart and my emotions wanted to do. But when I addressed the facts presented in the case, I was forced to come to the decision of second degree murder. And so I was like, okay, here. I did everything I was supposed to do, and I believe that everybody in that jury room did come to the verdict and sentencing based only. But then to say my statement that was kind of a negative introduction of evidence somehow persuaded or prejudiced them with outside information was just completely absurd. But I guess just I realized the law is much more complex than what I originally kind of I mean, we, we all know on some degree that the law is complex, but then when you really get down into it, it is so complex. And I know that it’s that way for a reason. But then, like I said, you have these individuals that take these rules that were intended to bring about justice, but instead take those rules to pervert justice. How do you fix it? The sad answer is, as long as we have prideful, arrogant, power hungry people moving the chess pieces, we’re not going to fix it. In other words, as long as people is involved, it’s going to be a broken system. I’m kind of like, what if I had discovered that this guy had all kinds of domestic abuse records? What if that had popped up? I would have been forced to even struggle even more with the fact that that couldn’t be considered in my decision making. And here was another thing that made it even harder. Whenever they pick a jury, there’s twelve members of a jury, but they always, at the very beginning, have two alternates in case something happens with one or two of the jury members, there’s a couple of other people that have heard all the evidence and so forth that can. Then they’re there for the entire trial and all deliberations. But unless you lose a juror or two, they don’t actually participate in deliberations and voting. Well, in our case, two jury members had been dismissed, probably for misconduct, maybe reported by juror number eight. I don’t know. So I have a little bit of sarcasm that I can’t get away from. But seriously, no hard feelings against juror number eight. But I actually tried reaching out to her to let her know I’d written a book, but no response there. Can’t blame her. But honestly, I don’t try to paint her or anybody as a villain in the book and was really worried that it would come across that way. And I’ve had a lot of people say, no, it absolutely doesn’t come across that way because that wasn’t my purpose. But you just realize that I kind of got lost my train of thought. So if there had been another alternate still available, I probably could have seen myself recusing myself, saying, you know what? I don’t feel like that. I had all the information needed to make a fair decision, and I could have stepped out and an alternate would have stepped in. I didn’t have that option. The alternates had already been used up. Now, I could have still done it, but that would have resulted in a hung jury, and I didn’t want that on my shoulders. Well, obviously, I had a mistrial on my shoulders instead. But again, I circle back to the thing that given only what was presented in the trial, second degree murder was appropriate. But then I was left really scratching my head when a mistrial is found. And like I said, when we very first started voting, it was nine that were voting for guilty on first degree. And I had no doubt in my mind that if the exact same testimony and evidence were repeated a second time, that there was a high probability that she could walk away with first degree murder. And so that’s why, of course, the defense attorney and the defendant had no idea about what went on in the deliberation room and how poorly her case looked from a juror’s perspective. And I was like, what in the world is happening?

00:49:30 – Johnny Sanders
Bizarre. But I’ll say on the outside looking in, obviously, it’s super personal to you, outside looking in. If you’re a kind of a law and order or just a courtroom type of person, I imagine your book is incredible reading.

00:49:47 – Katrina Robertson
I’ve done a couple of fun podcasts that are kind of focused on criminal justice and the justice system and that kind of thing. One of them that I did more recently, I’ll do a name plug for, it’s Jen and Justice. I think our episode is supposed to air next week sometime, but the host is an attorney, a defense attorney, and so she does have a very good working knowledge of the legal system and how jury trials work and stuff. And so she was a real fun one to talk to. And I’d reached out to her asking when the episode was going to air, and she had let me know, well, and I say, next week, I don’t know when this episode is going to air. That one was going to air around July 4. She said, but my interview with you really helped me tweak my Vor Dyer process for jury selection with my last case. I don’t remember exactly what I said. I said, oh, did it go somewhere along the lines of, are you somebody that can make a decision based on cherry picked information that’s been delivered in a manipulative way and also viewed as ignorant, where lots of hushed conversations will happen around you and you’re not allowed to ask questions? I said, was it a long? And she laughed. She said, as close as I could get. I’ve had some fun. And I actually had one. She was a law professor that has had her students read. My book is kind of the perspective from a juror. And then I had a court reporter reach out to me. She actually had emailed me and then asked if we could talk on the phone, I called her. So if you read the book again, I don’t try to villainize anybody, but I do put court transcripts in there that just speak for themselves. So this second judge that stepped in when the original judge recused, she’s a bit of a peach. And I’d asked her, I said, have you ever had to do court reporting for a judge like that? And she’s like, oh, yeah, absolutely. Like to where you want to crawl under a table? Just that, the arrogance. Yeah, because it was pretty bad. It was pretty bad. I was like, how do you sit there and just repeat what they say all day long? Anyway? So that’s a whole lot about that. But what I did want to just kind of plug in there. Like you said, my story is absolutely kind of unique and a unicorn. I mean, no, I have not run into anybody else that has been through that exact situation. But like I said, I interweave stories with my kids in there, and I have a fairly large circle of foster and adoptive moms who understand that kind of parenting, trauma kids and the hard within that. But the theme throughout the book is really just learning to rise, no matter what life throws at you. Because regardless of what your story is, you’re going to have, if you’ve lived long enough, you have walked through some absolutely devastating things. Whether it’s the breakup of a marriage or a health crisis or having a business, you put your heart and soul into fall apart or a prodigal child. We all walked through just absolutely horrendous things. And I’ve been so encouraged by the people who have reached out to me that have said, you know what? Reading basically your diary every day of getting back up out of bed and putting 1ft in the other, and then even further than that, feeling safe to say, god, I’ve got some questions right now. I’ve got some questions. And I’m kind of mad. No, I’m a lot mad. Like, being safe to say that. But then at the end of the day, to say, you know what? Even if that’s what really true faith looks like, is even if this all falls apart, I still trust you. And so I think that’s kind of really a big part of my story is what does real, genuine faith look like? Yeah, we always want to believe and hope for the best, but the reality is the best doesn’t always happen. And sometimes the miracle is just keeping your faith in the even if.

00:55:04 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah, no, I think that’s great and certainly sounds like, even though most people listen to this, and in fact, probably none, listening to this will have your exact experience. Like you said, we all face something and being able to continue on and to have that faith despite hard circumstances is something that we could all learn and grow from.

00:55:25 – Katrina Robertson

00:55:27 – Johnny Sanders
I’m imagining people listening to this are going to want to buy your book and stay in contact with you. So where can they find your book at and stay in contact with you after the show?

00:55:39 – Katrina Robertson
Sure. Well, it’s out there on Amazon. I’ve got the paperback and hardback and then of course, the e version, the Kindle. And then I also went out on a limb and did an audio version as well. For those of you, I think a lot of podcast listeners are probably audiobook people. Full disclosure, though, I self narrated and I am by no means a professional voiceover person. And it was a huge learning curve. I’m sitting here looking you with your headphones and mic. I’ve got those in a box, like for when podcast members hosts want that to be used, but I can never get the crazy things to actually recognize the right inputs and outputs anyway. So huge learning curve to try to record the audiobook and get it to ACX or audible standards to upload. But it is out there. It was just important for me to record it in my voice since it’s my story. So it’s there. I don’t necessarily have a website. I’m on Facebook. I’m not hard to find. If you search Katrina Robertson and maybe even narrow it down to Arkansas, you’ll find me. I’ve actually been starting to be asked about speaking engagement, so I’m thinking about possibly exploring that. And if that’s the case, I’ll eventually put up a website and that kind of thing, but just kind of seeing where it all takes me. But Amazon juror number eleven is the name of the book. The subtitle is a memoir of the Broken justice system and rising from the Trials of Life. So you’ll find it out there and then Facebook. Katrina Robertson, you’ll find me.

00:57:35 – Johnny Sanders
Okay. All right, well, I’ll definitely include the Amazon link down in the show notes down below, so definitely give that a look. And yeah, I’ll include Facebook on there too, if you want to stay in contact with her. But Katrina, fascinating story and thank you so much for sharing with us today.

00:57:52 – Katrina Robertson
Yeah, well, thanks for having me here. I’ve enjoyed it.