THE SEEMINGLY inexplicable verdict in the trial of a former Boston firefighter raises serious concerns about the competence of federal prosecutors under the leadership of much-praised US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, and at the same time makes you believe jurors are paying attention (“Arroyo cleared in fraud verdict,’’ Page A1, Aug. 16). As the prosecuting attorney said over and over, as if the jury wasn’t listening, the evidence against Albert Arroyo was overwhelming. Indeed, it seemed ridiculously clear that Arroyo had gamed the system, and his only defense was that everyone in the Boston Fire Department does more or less the same thing. For sure, he was guilty of some offense, just not the mail fraud charge used to prosecute him.
When I was called to jury duty a while ago, I thought of the movie “12 Angry Men,’’ and the lessons it dramatized. Charges must be proved. A defendant may be guilty of many things, but I was not judging many things, just the crimes alleged. This is basic stuff, ingrained in the lore of a jury of peers.
The Globe editorial comment on the trial (“Arroyo verdict shows need for crackdown on disability abuse,’’ Aug. 17) tries to make lemonade out of this sour outcome, claiming the trial itself highlights rampant abuse in the Boston Fire Department. But the evidence of that is already unimpeachable. The US attorney’s office missed an opportunity, plain and simple.