With the pounding of her gavel, the judge brought the case to a close, for now at least–a case that held the country’s attention for the last several weeks. You know which trial it is. Everyone knows what trial it is–the trial of George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
Regardless where I stand on the outcome of this particular jury trial, I wonder if these jurors, or any of the other jurors on murder cases, ever suffer from trauma or PTSD as a result of their being seated on that jury.
O.J. Simpson jurors
As I thought about his case, I wondered if any statistic or study exists on whether or not jurors who are seated for murder cases experience PTSD. They must sit for an undetermined amount of time and look at gruesome crime scene photos and listen to heartbroken friends and family on both sides of the crime.
Among many other things, the crime scene photos and testimony that a jury must closely examine, the horrible pictures of unimaginable crimes – I know that I would be triggered if I were sitting on any of those juries.It has been reported that jurors from the OJ Simpson trial had insomnia, and when they did sleep they had nightmares – some long after the trial was over. The jurors in the Jodi Arias trial have suggested that they, too, have experienced sleep disturbances when sleep does come.
I found an interesting article on PTSD in jurors in Medical Daily. The article, Vicariously Traumatized, Jurors In Murder Trials May Experience Symptoms Similar To PTSD, in its entirety can be found here. Please read and comment here on PTSD Perspectives. I’d love to know your thoughts.
I was a juror in a murder case, where a prostitute was abducted, raped, taped up, and then strangled to death 14 hours later. We found the defendant guilty of first degree premeditated murder and felony murder. We unanimously recommend the death penalty. I know we made the right decision, and I am consciously comfortable with it. However, I have been suffering from insomnia and intense dreams that are necessarily about the case but involve large amount of information and evidence that my mind is trying to piece together like a puzzle. I have never had problems sleeping in my life before now.
First of all, James, thank you for your service. Jurors often pay a price on behalf of citizens, and we thank you for your willingness to be part of the judicial system that protects us.
You are right to suggest that your mind is trying to piece together a puzzle. When our brain is overwhelmed, the experience becomes “trapped” in one side and cannot be appropriately filed in our memories. Therapies such as the Instinctual Trauma Response Model (Intensive Trauma Therapy) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) are sometimes used to treat these types of symptoms. If you have not sought treatment, consider talking to a trauma-trained mental health professional.