Interview: Willie Jordan

Willie Jordan
Willie Jordan was a member of jury that convicted Clarence Aaron.

I had no idea. ... I'm surprised at that, I really am, that [he got] that harsh a sentence. What do you remember of the case?

... I believe it was drug trafficking. And there were two people on trial at the same time. And they were found guilty. It ... was a pretty long trial, actually. We deliberated after the lawyers presented their cases and the clos[ing] arguments. We went to deliberations about 1:00 in the afternoon. And by 5:30 or 6:00 we were still deliberating, we hadn't reached a decision yet. And we came back the next day and finally reached a conclusion about 10:30, 11:00.

Was it unanimous?

Unanimous. For a long time it was eleven to one, though. One person just couldn't quite see it. We had to go everything over and over and over again until finally she did. ...

Do you remember the evidence?

No, I can't remember. I think they were actually caught maybe with the drugs, transporting them or trying to sell them, I can't remember exactly what it was. But it was trafficking ... .

There was nothing found.

Um hmm.

The witnesses were felons.

Yes, I think we knew that. Some of the ones that testified against the defendants were already serving time.

It didn't give you pause, that the witnesses had something to gain from testifying against Clarence?

They probably did ... but there's other things involved too, other than just that. It just seemed like when the worm starts a-squirming he'll tell the truth to get off a little bit, maybe, make it a little easier on themselves.

How can you be sure it's the truth?

Well, you can't be, I guess, exactly sure about it, but you can make the best deliberation you can, and try to draw a conclusion with what information you have. ...

Did you know anything about the boys?

No, I didn't know a thing about them. Wasn't supposed to, I don't guess.

Did they get the sentence they deserved?

Well, you know, I meant to look in the paper later to see what kind of sentence they served and somehow or other I missed it. And I never did know what kind of sentence they got.

What did you think they should get?

... Well, I wouldn't have thought of a large number of years, no. Just probably a short sentence. Now what a short sentence is I don't know, three to five years, maybe something like that ... .

Clarence Aaron got life.


Three life concurrent sentences.

Three concurrent life sentences. There's no hope of parole?


Well, that's more than I thought it would be. Well, see, I had no idea. ... I'm surprised at that, I really am, that [he got] that harsh a sentence.

Does it sadden you?

Yeah, it does, somewhat, it sure does. It sure does. We weren't told anything about [sentencing] guidelines. And, of course, the judge, I guess, did the sentencing.

Jurors are not supposed to know about sentences; they are just supposed to determine guilt or innocence.

That's right. ...

Do you think the verdict might have come out different if you had known the sentences the defendants were facing?

It might have been a little tougher, but the evidence was such that I don't think we could have had any other conclusion other than guilty. ...

How do you feel about the sentence?

I wish I didn't know now that they'd got life.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Nothing in particular, although I think we made the right decision. But I'm kinda wondering about the sentencing law. ...

You don't feel at fault?

No, I don't feel at fault, because I think I made the right decision about [them being] guilty.

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