After voting to convict Joyce Buffaloe of making a false 911 call during a late night traffic stop, jury foreperson Patricia Klugherz then stayed in the courtroom for her sentencing.
The 73-year-old Klugherz had been the last hold out juror, and after the verdict was announced she realized she had made a mistake: She didn’t think Buffaloe was guilty. Buffaloe, a black woman, had been stopped by the police in Bradenton, Florida while she had her 8-year-old son in her car. Buffaloe, who had just helped change the tire on a friend’s car, felt like the two police officers were harrassing her. She called 911 for help after one of the officers pointed a stun gun at her and threatened to use it on her. The police arrested her for obstructing justice by calling 911. Ironically, she wasn’t cited for any traffic violation.
Klugherzthen thought Buffaloe was genuinely afraid for the safety of her and her son when she called 911, and that the police were out of line in how they treated her. After the judge sentenced Buffaloe to a fine and court costs that amounted to $220, Klugherz gave Buffaloe, a single mom, that amount of money.
Klugherz later told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, “It made me feel very guilty that I did it. I will always feel like I made a mistake.” She said about paying Buffaloe’s fine, “It’s to help me as much as to help her.”
When asked about Klugherz’s regret at convicting Buffaloe, Prosecutor Shelli Freeland defended the charges as appropriate for her conduct. Freeland said that she actually gave the 35-year-old Buffaloe a break by only recommending a fine and no jail time, because she had no criminal history and her testimony seemed sincere. Read the December 2, 2007 story in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Hans Sherrer / Justice Denied